Medical-negligence cases set to cost record €374 million next year

State Claims Agency chief says cases ‘a very significant economic challenge’ for the State

Medical negligence cases are set to cost a record €374 million next year

Medical negligence cases are set to cost a record €374 million next year


Health Editor

Medical-negligence cases are set to cost a record €374 million next year, according to actuarial estimates provided to the State Claims Agency (SCA).

This compares to an outlay of €287.3 million on such cases in the first nine months of this year, and €250 million in 2018.

SCA chief executive Ciaran Breen said clinical negligence cases represented a “very significant economic challenge” for the State, quite apart for their impact on the people who have suffered injuries and on their families.

In one case resolved this year, the SCA paid out €32.5 million for a catastrophic injury claim.

“The SCA has been stating for many years that the present tort-based system is not fit for purpose when it comes to resolving clinical negligence cases,” Mr Breen told a conference on clinical risk in Dublin on Tuesday.

“With that in mind I am pleased that Mr Justice Charles Meenan is scheduled to deliver a report to Government next month in which it is expected that he will propose some changes to the present tort system.”

Mr Breen also expressed concern that a recent court judgment could spell the end of period payment orders (PPO), which were introduced in 2018 for catastrophic injury cases.

From 2010, interim payments were put in place in 83 catastrophic injury cases, he said. In the absence of PPOs, 17 of these cases revert to final settlement by way of lump sum, leaving 66 cases where interim payment arrangements continue to apply.

Mr Breen said PPOs are the best system for compensating people in such cases because they ensure families to not have to worry about a lump-sum payment running out during the person’s lifetime.

Since 2018, the High Court has put in place six PPOs allowing people to receive a yearly sum to guarantee the payment of their future care through life.

However, in the recent case, the agency was unsuccessful in trying to put in place a statutory PPO for a person who had suffered catastrophic injuries, when the High Court refused to approve the arrangement.

The SCA is currently processing more than 10,600 claims, of which over 3,000 are clinical. The total liability of clinical negligence claims is €3.2 billion. In 2017, the agency paid out 90 claims for values over €150,000.