The Medical Protection Society has released a new set of proposals for protocol changes in the hopes that they will reduce the cost of making a medical negligence claim in Ireland.
The non-profit organisation responsible for providing legal assistance to those working in the medical sector-the Medical Protection Society-has recently published a new set of proposals for “pre-trial protocols”. These were created with the aim to lower the costs of making hospital negligence claims in Ireland. They state that with existing protocol and procedures, there is a significant expenses involved in bringing legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), which puts intense strain on both the medical system and the victims and families of those affected.
They suggest that by making communication between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s legal teams easier, more cases may be resolved before litigation is even necessary. They hope to do this by promoting openness and transparency on both sides. They also want to provide an opportunity for each negligence claim made against the hospital to be fully investigated by independent experts and potentially resolved before litigation is even necessary.
This improved dialogue between sides should lower the costs of medical negligence claims by reducing the amount of adversarial processes. In both England and Wales, solicitors and levied with financial penalties if they go straight to the litigation procedure without first attempting some sort of mediation. If the Medical Protection Society’s proposal is successful, such penalties would not be required as the process will be nearly automatic.
Emma Hallinan-the MPS’s Director of Claims-has suggested that the new set of protocols should first be trialled voluntarily before any legislation is introduced. She states: “We recognise the important role that the MPS must play, and have committed to trialling procedural reform before it is introduced in statute. We are in the process of writing to plaintiff lawyers with large medical negligence practices to request that they work with us to pilot this.”
Among the various proposals put forward by the Medical Protection Society, a tariff of general damages would be introduced. This is comparable to the Judicial College’s “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” in the UK. This tariff would act as a scale for compensation awards for specific physical injuries caused by hospital negligence. The range of medical injuries covered by this scale if extensive, including brain damage, surgical errors, and dental damage.
Other general damages-such as loss of amenity and emotional trauma-as well as special damages to replace lost incense and expenses would still require negotiation between parties to resolve. Many who have read the proposals commend the MPS, stating that they are heading in the right direction to lower the costs of making such hospital negligence claims in Ireland.