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Irish medical negligence legal costs among highest in world, report says

Legal costs in Irish medical negligence cases are among the highest in the world, according to a report that says the slow pace of legal actions here is damaging patients and doctors’ mental wellbeing.

The average cost of a legal claim for medical negligence in Ireland is almost three times higher than in the UK, and cases take over 50 per cent longer to resolve, the industry report says.

Patients and doctors in Ireland are dragged through what can be a brutal process, for longer than necessary, with patients having to wait longer to receive compensation, the report by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) asserts.

In the report, the society, which provides indemnity cover for 16,000 doctors and other healthcare professionals in Ireland, compared the length and cost of legal actions here with other jurisdictions in which it operates.

A medical negligence claim in Ireland takes 1,462 days on average (four years), 14% longer than in South Africa and 56% longer than in Hong Kong, the UK or Singapore, it found.

Two hundred doctors in Ireland were interviewed for the report: 88% said they were worried about the length of time the litigation process was taking and 91% were worried about their mental wellbeing while it was ongoing. Some said they needed professional help, experienced suicidal thoughts, or quit medicine as a result of the claim.

“It was horrendous. I had to leave medicine after it,” says one doctor involved in a claim who is quoted in the report. “I developed severe anxiety during the course of the claim and PTSD. I lost my career in medicine and I am devastated about that. I knew I could never go through the same again.”

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Source: The Irish Times, 31 January 2024


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