Compensation Claims against the State Forecast Expected to Rise
The State Claims Agency has predicted that compensation claims against the State for hospital negligence could increase by more than a quarter in 2012.
Commenting in the Clinical Indemnity Scheme newsletter, Ciaran Breen – Director of the State Claims Agency – said that “It appears that people, injured as a result of a medical negligence event, are more likely to sue doctors, dentists and hospitals in these more difficult economic times” after attributing the increase on the economic downturn.
Mr Breen´s remarks were in complete contrast to those made by Patricia Byron – Chief Executive of injuriesboard.ie -after the Injuries Board Interim Report was released last month, which saw only a 4.1 percent increase in claims over the first six months and not the “recessionary spike” that had been predicted. However, both public officials referred to the fact that there had been a significant increase in claims related to the DePuy hip replacement recall.
As 345 compensation claims were filed against the State in the first six months of 2012 (as opposed to 542 in the whole of 2011), and the Statute of Limitations expired in August 2012 for many victims of the DePuy hip replacement recall, Mr Breen´s outlook may appear unjustifiably depressing. However, some compensation claims filed against the State are finding their way to court long after they might previously have been time-barred.
In July this year, the Supreme Court upheld a High Court judgement in favour of Olivia Kearney who, forty-three years beforehand, had went throufh a symphysiotomy procedure which the High Court determined was “entirely unjustified and unwarranted”. Should the remaining two hundred survivors of the symphysiotomy procedure be permitted to make compensation claims against the State, Mr Breen´s forecast could be very conservative indeed.
Compensation claims against the State for hospital negligence account for a small number of claims managed by the State Claims Agency – the majority are for public liability and employer liability – but account for almost 90 percent of the value of claims each year. In 2011, the value of the 542 compensation claims against the State for medical negligence amounted to 860 million Euros.