Government urged to implement existing clinical negligence recommendations

Michael Boylan
Michael Boylan

A prominent medical negligence lawyer has called on the Government to urgently introduce reforms for resolving clinical negligence claims already recommended by a previous working group.

Michael Boylan, author of A Practical Guide to Medical Negligence Litigation and managing partner at Michael Boylan Litigation Law Firm, spoke following yesterday’s announcement of a new expert group chaired by Mr Justice Charles Meenan.

He pointed out that the recommendations of an earlier working group chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine had not yet been implemented.

Her group’s recommendations included the introduction of pre-action protocols and case management for medical negligence actions to encourage the resolution of claims before proceedings are issued.

Mr Boylan (pictured) also highlighted its recommendation for a ‘cards on the table approach’ involving an early exchange of vital factual information including medical records and hospital protocols.

He said: “This would encourage resolution of claims before proceedings issued, saving time and money for people with life-altering injuries. This is a hugely stressful time for patients and their families.

“A more innovative and specialist approach is needed towards the handling of medical negligence cases to ensure those who have been harmed as a result of gross negligence or malpractice can access justice successfully in an affordable and timely manner.”

In cases where liability is clear-cut, Mr Boylan added that admissions of fault should be made from the outset rather than what currently occurs.

He said: “There is a critical gap in the specialist advice and support that is currently available in Ireland to plaintiffs, which is putting them at a clear disadvantage when exercising their right to legal redress. The Court should be in a position to impose significant fines on the defendant where liability was unreasonably denied.

“Currently there is no effective sanction available to discourage spurious defences, whereas a patient/plaintiff lawyer must have supportive expert evidence available before proceedings are commenced as otherwise they are breaching professional ethics.”

Mr Boylan, a former member of the President of the High Court’s working party on periodic payments and medical negligence reform, is a founding partner of a new specialist medical litigation firm which he has co-founded with fellow medical litigation expert Gillian O’Connor.

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