N – UK libel law risks patient harm

A Danish radiologist says that the lives of patients are being put at risk because libel laws are preventing doctors and scientists from speaking in public about their clinical experiences, writes Zosia Kmietowicz in the BMJ (2009;339:b5615). Henrik Thomsen, professor at the University of Copenhagen, is being pursued in the High Court in London by GE Healthcare over allegations that he defamed the company at a conference in Oxford in 2007. Professor Thomsen told the Sunday Times, “I believe that the lawsuit is an attempt to silence me . . . It’s dangerous for the patient if we can’t frankly exchange views” (20 Dec, http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6962816.ece).