The Medical Protection Society’s protocols regarding the reduction costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland have been well received so far.
The Medical Protection Society-the non-profit organisation responsible for providing legal assistance to those working in the medical sector-has brought forward proposals for “pre-trial protocols” which aim to lower the costs of hospital negligence claims. There are significant expenses involved in bringing legal action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), a problem that the Medical Protection Society is keen to fix.
Their aim is to make communication between the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s legal teams easier 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 investigated-and potentially resolved-before litigation is even necessary.
This improved dialogue between sides should lower the costs of medical negligence claims in hospitals across Ireland by creating less adversarial processes. In both England and Wales, solicitors suffer financial penalties if they go straight to the litigation procedure without first attempting some sort of mediation. If the MPS is successful, such penalties would not be required.
Emma Hallinan-the MPS’s Director of Claims-proposes that the protocol 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. It would act as a scale of compensation awards for specific physical injuries caused by hospital negligence, ranging from dental damage to severe brain trauma.
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.