Accident or on purpose?
Neglect, incompetence, and unintentional killing
in Medical misadventure in an age of professionalisation, 1780–1890
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Allegations of neglect or incompetence provided an evolving medical profession with a structured set of opportunities to set out the boundaries of acceptable practice. This chapter considers charges against practitioners that entailed their neglect, incompetence or questionable practice which occasioned a threat to patients' lives, and which were usually given public notice at the inquests on patients' bodies. As such it will cover allegations of unplanned or unintentional crimes against the body where the victim was a patient who died. Egregious cases of neglect and incompetence gave rise to charges of manslaughter by inquest juries, which were taken up by the police or others and could result in the criminal prosecution of a practitioner. Charges of neglect, manslaughter, and abortion collectively illustrate the risks and frustrations associated with rising expectations both inside and beyond the profession.


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