Irish Medical Conference Suggests More “Honesty and Transparency”

The traditional deny and defend stand when it comes to medical negligence is cruel, costly and does not correct the problem

According to a recent conference entitled “Patients Rights, Access to Justice and the Case for Candor,” medical negligence cases are needlessly costing the Health Service Executive millions of euro. The conference was organized by two advocacy organizations, the Medical Injuries Alliance (MIA) and the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA).

The current adversarial approach to medical complaints and accidents prolongs pain for families. “The victims are forced to battle the system for compensation,” was the theme of the conference, and the medical establishments learn nothing from the experience.

Key note speaker at the event, Dr Timothy McDonald, Chief Safety and Risk Officer for Health Affairs as well as Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics at University of Illinois, Chicago said the “deny and defend” method used by hospitals when accused of medical negligence drives up costs.

He suggests a system grounded in “honesty and transparency.” Hospitals going on the defensive are not helping the patient or the hospitals. “Having a deny and defend procedure in place is contrary to learning and improving – we need to recognize that the patient is not the enemy here. A candid approach leads to better learning for our nurses, doctors and surgeons and a quicker resolution can be achieved, one that is a lot more fair for the patient and will ensure that money does not get drained from the health service’s finances and buried into the legal system,” Dr McDonald said.

For example, when a patient is seeking $2 million in damages, the medical system spends in the region of $4.5 million defending the case, which is simply money down the drain, he said. A more honest and transparent procedure would not only get the victim the money he/she needs more quickly, the overall health care system would save money and be able to learn from the admitted inefficiencies. “You can’t fix what you don’t know about,” said Dr McDonald.

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