Costs for medical malpractice and clinical negligence could reach €970 million

Time taken to resolve some claims more than doubled over four years since 2008

The State is facing a potential bill of €970 million for clinical indemnity claims against hospitals and medical practitioners in 2012, the C&AG has said

The State is facing a potential bill of €970 million for clinical indemnity claims against hospitals and medical practitioners in 2012, the C&AG has said

Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 08:02

The State is facing a potential bill of €970 million for clinical indemnity claims against hospitals and medical practitioners in 2012, the C&AG has said.

The figure has more than doubled since 2008 when the liability was €449 million.

The clinical indemnity scheme was established in July 2002 and covers all areas of medical malpractice and clinical negligence arising from the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients taken against public healthcare and practitioners. Consultants have been covered since February 2004. The scheme is administered by the State Claims Agency.

The average time taken to resolve claims has also increased, with the average time to resolve mental health claims rising from 2.2 years in 2008 to 4.8 years in 2012.

The report found if the recent trend in demand continues, it is likely the time taken to resolve cases will rise further unless the agency can increase its annual output.

Some 20 per cent of claims were obstetric-related, but these represented more than half the bill “due to the high settlement values associated with cerebral palsy cases and other serious birth-related claims”, the report said.

Of the 833 new claims made in 2012, 230 related to hip replacement procedures carried out using implants from De Puy Orthopaedics. The agency reached an agreement with De Puy that the company would provide indemnity for “most of the cases”, the report said.

More than 50 per cent of claims last year were resolved by negotiating a settlement, the report found, compared to 25 per cent in 2008. Over the same period, the proportion of claims resolved at no cost to the State Claims Agency declined significantly, the report said.

Less than 3 per cent of claims were resolved by the courts last year.

The cases that do go to court are generally those involving infant cerebral palsy or other catastrophic injuries.

There were more than 80,000 adverse clinical incidents, causing injury or adverse effects for patients, reported to the agency in 2012.

More than a third related to falls, 13 per cent related to violence or abuse, 8 per cent were medication errors and 7 per cent were peri-natal.

Some 6 per cent related to treatment given and 32 per cent were categorised as “other”.