"Loss of situation awareness" by medical staff: reflecting on the moral and legal status of a psychological concept

J Law Med. 2015 Mar;22(3):632-7.


This article examines the emergence of "accurate situation awareness (SA)" as a legal and moral standard for judging professional negligence in medicine. It argues that SA constitutes a status, an outcome resulting from the confluence of a wide array of factors, some originating inside and others outside the agent. SA does not connote an action, a practice, a role, a task, a virtue, or a disposition--the familiar objects of moral and legal appraisal. The argument contends that invoking SA becomes problematic when its use broadens to include professional or legally appraisable norms for behaviour, which expect a certain state of awareness from practitioners.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness*
  • Clinical Competence / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Medical Staff / ethics*
  • Medical Staff / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Morals*