Tougher sanctions are being considered for doctors who mistakes when caring for patients.
New proposals from the General Medical Council (GMC) could force doctors to apologise, even if they have previously refused.
And those who have made mistakes could see their practice restricted, even if their work has improved.
The GMC claims that if implemented, the proposals will improve public confidence in doctors as well as patient protection.
The independent doctors regulatory body is carrying out a major consultation into how doctors should be handled when serious complaints about them are upheld.
Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive said: “Doctors are among the most trusted professionals, and rightly so, and they deserve to be treated fairly. In the vast majority of cases one-off clinical errors do not merit any action by the GMC.
“But if we are to maintain that trust, in the small number of serious cases where doctors fail to listen to concerns and take action sooner to protect patients, they should be held to account for their actions.”
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Clare Gerada, medical director of the NHS practitioner health programme and former Royal College of General Practitioners chair said she had concerns that tougher sanctions could “traumatise and put in additional fear for the vast majority of doctors who go in every day to do a good job”.
She said: “Of course it’s important that we take into account the patient and we look at the damage that’s been done to the patient, but it’s also important that whatever sanction is a proportionate sanction, is a fair sanction.”
The consultation, which includes events for patient groups, doctors, their representatives and lawyers, runs from 22 August to 14 November. The GMC will publish the outcome in 2015 and the findings will be used to inform a new version of the GMC’s Indicative Sanctions Guidance.