Posted on : 12-11-2013 | By : askinglaw | In : Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury
Tags: medical negligence
There are two sides to every story and so is the case when it comes to medical negligence claims. On the one hand, supporters say that the ability to claim compensation allows ordinary people to ensure that they get the legal justice they deserve if their care is inadequate or the operation they have goes wrong. Critics, however, point to the rise in ‘frivolous’ claims and the detrimental effect that settling such claims has on medical practitioners being able to work efficiently to what is already a tight budget.
The NHS and insurance
One of the big arguments against the apparent ease with which people can make medical negligence claims is that it pushes up costs for the NHS, which is already struggling to cope financially due to underfunding and a lack of resources. By allowing so many claims, it is argued that money is diverted from vital areas in which matters of life and death are an everyday occurrence.
Even though medical practitioners are covered by insurance against the eventuality that a claim may be made against them, the insurance costs themselves have skyrocketed in recent years. As with all other forms of insurance, when large claims are paid out, the cost is passed on in one form or another by the insurance companies. It is suggested by those who disapprove of the so-called ‘claim culture’ that fear of litigation can also make doctors and other medical professionals take the ‘safe’ option when treating their patients, even though new advances in medicine may give better results.
The other side of the coin
Of course, it is not just the NHS that needs to be insured against the possibility of litigation. Private medical practitioners are just as vulnerable. The fact is that although there has been an increase in medical negligence cases in recent years, there is more information (see http://www.firstpersonalinjury.co.uk/accident-claims/) than ever to suggest that this is more to do with patients’ knowledge of the compensation procedure rather than either an increase in negligence or patients’ desire to have access to ‘easy’ money.
In any branch of law, the more people who know their rights, the more people are likely to claim. This works with medical negligence too. Companies who offer free initial advice and will often take cases on a no-win, no-fee basis have found that more people are willing to take the compensation route because they are better informed about the medical procedures and what can be expected. They also know how the law could be applied when things go wrong.
Advocates of the compensation system also point out that knowledge of such a sanction helps keep medical practitioners focused on working to the best of their abilities and helps to form ‘best practice’ policies that can prevent injuries and illnesses in the future. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the compensation aspect of medical negligence law, it seems that it is here to stay. And though it will long continue to be a source of disagreement and discussion, it will continue to provide help for those who need it the most.