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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Carry On Doc - we won't tell anyone

How often to we hear politicians and commentators going on about the so called Compensation Culture? Those two words have been used to justify the major cuts that I have gone on and on about in recent posts.

One group of victims who are particularly targeted are those who are injured as a result of Medical Negligence. This is my own particular area of practice and I see case after case where patients’ lives are ruined by medical errors. Most recently I have mentioned the tragic story of a 34 year old mother of two who has died following an inexcusable delay in diagnosis of bladder cancer.

It does not seem to matter that these victims are entirely innocent; they are still made to feel that they are in the wrong if they seek justice against the NHS. It is as if they are responsible for the entire funding of the health service and it might all collapse because they are seeking compensation. The lawyers who represent them normally find themselves described as ‘ambulance chasers’ or worse.

But the real answer to this problem is not to blame victims or lawyers. The real onus is on the medical profession to do more to eliminate mistakes and to reduce risk.

In fact the opposite seems to be the case. According to a report in the Telegraph there seems to be a systematic failure by hospitals to report failing doctors to the General Medical Council (GMC) – the body who can decide whether a practitioner is fit to practice. Of 204 doctors who had received 2 or more complaints against them, just two had been reported.

This is an alarming report. We all wish to see a reduction in the number of medical accidents. There are far too many tragic stories.

The answer is not to attack the victims, to make it as difficult as possible to claim. The answer is to completely review risk management policies.

The starting point has to be a duty on organizations to report to the GMC.

The vast majority of Medical Practitioners do a fantastic job for their patients under difficult conditions. Their job is made that much harder when colleagues make repeated mistakes and are allowed to carry on regardless.

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