Care will be needed in using technology for obtaining consent
The increased use of technology in the delivery of healthcare continues to amaze. Ground-breaking eye implants, non-invasive heart surgery, microneedle vaccine patches (no injections) and artificial wombs are just some of the technological advances already in use. Technology in the form of tablet apps will also become more widely used to document a patient’s consent, which poses a bigger risk than ever for clinicians. While the use of technology will help to eliminate documentary disputes, providers will still need to retain evidence that a patient is made aware of all ‘material’ risks, and whether the patient might attach significance to such risks.
Increased Government scrutiny will help protect the public
We expect increased Government activity and public protection scrutiny to guard against the risks to the public from ‘rogue’ surgeons. Jeremy Hunt, while Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, wrote to a number of private and independent hospitals on the issue of patient safety and increased governance procedures. In addition, an independent non-statutory public inquiry has been established to look into responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector and arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in this area. The inquiry will be particularly important for all independent providers and UK medical malpractice insurers.
Cost of medical malpractice claims will fall
Government activity will also continue to focus on, and implement, measures aimed at reducing the costs associated with medical malpractice claims. Reform of the calculation of the discount rate through the Civil Liability Bill, relevant for any personal injury claims involving future loss, will lessen the impact brought about by the reduction to minus 0.75%. Separately, the next step towards the introduction of fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence has been the establishment of a Civil Justice Council working group to recommend procedural improvements and a fixed costs regime for claims up to £25,000.