Doctors in Ireland No Longer Defending Medical Negligence in Court

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Doctors all over Ireland are going to great lengths to avoiding having to go to court to defend against medical negligence. It is not that there are a flood of incompetent medical providers in Ireland that are causing huge amounts of harm to the population through medical malpractice and negligence. The real issue here that causes doctors to settle outside of course is the exorbitant legal defense costs in defending a case in Ireland, and the fact that you typically do not have a chance of successfully defending yourself should the case involve children.

Time is money for anyone, and time for a doctor or medical provider can be particularly valuable. Besides the legal defense costs, the sheer amount of time involved in defending a case makes it attractive to just write a check and move on.

In previous years, huge numbers of cases have been filed related to obstetrics and medical negligence. For example, look back to 2016. Over 65% of the $1.6 billion in claims were filed for cerebral palsy conditions related to a lack of oxygen to the brain in obstetrics cases. When you examine the flip side, you see that there has been really only one successful defense by a doctor of a cerebral palsy-related medical negligence claim over the last 10 years. This type of thing makes doctors hesitant to go to court to defend themselves, because everybody in the equation (including any jurors, usually want the family to receive money for care of the cerebral palsy-stricken child. Often, even the doctor in question wants the family to get the money they need.

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In these cases, and for lots of other heartbreaking medical negligence claims, doctors will simply choose to settle. The other thing contributing to a willingness to settle is due to various factors related to Ireland itself. The country has an extremely high rate of medical negligence claims, very high legal defense fees, and a high rate of quantum in terms of actual settlements. It makes it extremely expensive to actually go to court to defend a malpractice case for a doctor. The appeal of the easy settlement becomes an attractive one when a doctor or their legal time looks at the high expense of taking a case through to trial. Click here to learn more about your rights as a plaintiff and what to expect in a medical negligence case in Dublin.

The flip side of a relaxed medical negligence courts system is that, with less cases going to trial, and more going to fast settlement,  that families can get into treatment and care immediately for cases involing catastrophic events like cerebral palsy. With a relaxed court system and a flow of settlement money, care for the affected child can become independent of the family’s need to obtain a large claim through court. Everyone can somewhat win with a related and untaxed court system.

Since the mid 2000’s, high numbers of doctors began leaving Ireland to go work elsewhere. In 2015 alone, the Medical Council in Ireland issued 1,800+ certificates of good standing to doctors leaving to work abroad. The current number of trained doctors of Irish background working in the country now tends to hover between 700 – 1000 doctors total. This forces Ireland to also show a strong disposition toward internationally trained doctors — the discrepancy of native Irish doctors has made the country have the 4th highest reliance on foreign medical personnel, just behind Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

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Michelle Gram Smith
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