Denis Naughten TD has welcomed the publication today of the new Patient Safety (Notifiable Patient Safety Incidents) Bill 2019 which will provide patients with information on serious medical incidents by health professionals.
“This new law has the potential to take cases out of the legal system altogether” explained Denis Naughten.
“The new Bill is based on the principals of a Bill I published in 2016 and which was the basis for the commitment that I secured in the Programme for Government”.
“Patients who have been wrongly treated, and then have the incident covered up, deserve to know that the system has learned and that our laws will not tolerate cover-ups in future.
“As we know, medicine is not an exact science and neither is midwifery. When medical professionals meet a patient they take the patient’s history, examine the patient, carry out tests and then use their professional judgment to make a diagnosis. Sometimes this professional judgement is wrong. It does not mean the person is a bad doctor or a bad midwife, but that the person has called it wrong. This is the nature of medicine; it is a judgement call. It does not necessarily mean every mistake is negligent.
“To put it in context, if someone walks out in front of a car and is seriously injured, the driver is not the one at fault even though it was his or her car who hit the pedestrian. However, if the driver drives away from the scene of such an incident, there is an issue of liability.
“This is what we allow in the health profession at present. It happens every day. Approximately 60 complaints a day are received by the HSE on medical issues. These patients are being effectively abandoned by the current system because of the lack of management of these cases.
“People are then forced into taking legal action, and must sue the hospital and medical professionals to find out what happened, what went wrong and how to have the situation rectified.
“We have a defensive system in this country, which is inhumane and insensitive and forces people through the legal system.
“Every year about 17,500 people are admitted to hospital because they have been prescribed medicine in error. About 160,000 patients are injured within our health system every year. The majority of them do not take claims and many of them do not even know a mistake has been made, yet we have this culture of cover-up, denial and putting people, especially parents of profoundly disabled children, through an adversarial legal process for years upon years before they can get answers and resources to deal with the needs of their child.
“This needs to change and this legislation is intended to address this situation once and for all,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Contact: 086 1708800
Link to Patient Safety (Notifiable Patient Safety Incidents) Bill 2019 https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/bill/2019/100/eng/initiated/b10019d.pdf
Link to Health Disclosure Bill 2016: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2016/18/