Coronavirus (COVID-19) - our advice for doctors

We recognise that this is a very difficult and worrying time for doctors. Our professional standards provide a framework for ethical decision making in a wide range of situations. They should be followed as far as practical in the circumstances. We're regularly updating our advice for doctors as the situation develops.

Openness and honesty when things go wrong: The professional duty of candour

Do you know what to do if something goes wrong?

In this joint guidance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) we explore what being open and honest about mistakes means in practice. And whose responsibility it is to explain and record what has gone wrong.

We include practical advice on:

  • when and who you should apologise to
  • what to include in an apology
  • how to say sorry.

There is also a section on encouraging you to report errors, not only with your patients, but at your place of work to help promote a learning culture. 

This guidance was published 29 June 2015. It was updated on 15 March 2022 to incorporate factual updates.