A joint international conference organised by the Medical Injuries Alliance and UK charity AvMA took place in Dublin entitled “Patients’ Rights, Access to Justice and the Case for Candour”. The Conference was addressed by Supreme Court Judge Mr. Justice Liam McKechnie; Dr. Timothy McDonald, Chief Safety and Risk Officer at the University of Illinois, Chicago; Moore McDowell, Economist, UCD; Ann Duffy, Clinical Risk Adviser at the State Claims Agency and Peter Walsh Chief Executive of AvMA
Dr. Timothy McDonald said a duty of candour might seem counter-intuitive from a financial viewpoint, given that it notifies patients early on about medical mistakes. However, since a duty of candour was introduced in Illinois, malpractice premia have dropped by $22 million over three years and claims have fallen by up to 50%. “Patients are less likely to sue when a hospital is forthcoming and transparent,” he said. Up to 60-70% of law suits go away without payment once doctors and hospitals share all information.
UCD economist Moore McDowell said the true financial cost of medical accidents is a significant multiple of the headline figure in the HSE accounts. The economically rational and avoidable level of accident-related costs in the HSE sector is about €250-400 million a year.
Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Liam McKechnie, said the justice system must ensure that where harm has been caused proper access to an effective remedy must be available and, where required, all necessary support must be provided.
The conference also heard moving account from families injured due to medical accidents, including Deirdre Courtney, mother of Bríd Courtney who suffered brain damage due to negligence during her birth at Kerry General Hospital. A settlement of €11 million was agreed by Cantillons Solicitors without admission of liability by the HSE in November 2012.
The conference also heard from Patricia Lynch, mother of Aisling Lenehan, who obtained an award of €690,000 in May 2012 with the assistance of the Medical Negligence Team in Cantillons Solicitors for untreated cardiac defects and undiagnosed / untreated feeding problems.
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