A member of a High Court working group, commissioned to investigate provision for the victims of catastrophic injury and headed by Mr Justice John Quirke, has announced that the working group is considering the introduction of pre-action protocols to reduce the financial burden to the State of clinical error admissions compensation claims.
Mr Michael Boylan was talking in Dublin at a conference on catastrophic birth and child injuries organised by the charity “Action Against Medical Accidents”. He said that a legal “duty of candour” should be brought in to require medical practitioners to advise a patient as soon as they are aware that a clinical error as occurred.
Quoting from a Health Service Executive report, Mr Boylan stated that there was proof to suggest that patients often forgave the clinical error when it is disclosed promptly, fully and compassionately, and not only would this action lessen the trauma and distress of patients and their families upon discovery, but also reduce the amount of legal costs arising from contested medical negligence actions.
The first proposal from the working group was included in a report published in November 2010. The report recommended that people who sustain catastrophic injuries would benefit more from periodic compensation payments than one lump sum. Mr Boylan hoped that the report would be acted upon and legislation brought in, although he acknowledged that the overall cost to the State could be greater and feared that this might prevent it from being adopted into law.