Cruel medical negligence policy must be overhauled

A High Court judge has called for a radical overhaul of how the State manages claims for medical negligence.

Cruel medical negligence policy must be overhauled

Ms Justice Mary Irvine made her comments after the HSE went to court in a bid to explain its treatment of a girl from Carrigaline, Cork, who received catastrophic injuries during her birth in 2006. Earlier this month the parents of eight-year-old Grace Orchard settled a claim against the HSE for €5.8m for the mishandling of her birth at St Finbarr’s hospital. When the settlement was agreed Judge Irvine said she regretted it had taken the HSE until January to accept liability, which was three years after a case was taken.

Following this, the HSE applied to explain its actions because the State Claims Agency feared the court felt its delay in admitting liability was tactical.

Judge Irvine accepted the HSE did not have a policy to deliberately withhold admission of liability. But, she said a lot of reports were received late in the day and “it all leads me to my own view that we need a radical overhaul of how clinical negligence is managed”.

The judge said there needed to be new rules, protocols, and rules of disclosure. She said such recommendations had been before the justice minister for a very long period, and enabling legislation would bring in a better system.

The judge said parents feel the litigation process is cruel and disadvantageous and they can’t receive money at an early stage when it is most needed.

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