A new bill before Parliament could change the kinds of medical negligence compensation claims the UK sees in the future.
The Medical Innovation Bill, which was introduced by Conservative MP Michael Ellis in the House of Commons on September 11th, could spell out the difference between “responsible, scientific innovation” and “reckless experimentation” for the first ever time.
Currently, the fear of clinical negligence compensation claims, malpractice claims and being disbarred by the General Medical Council could be dissuading some doctors from choosing peer-reviewed, sensible, innovative and group-approved treatment plans, even if patients give their fully-informed consent to the procedure and other options have been exhausted.
Therefore, the Bill proposes that innovative treatment should be approved formally by the multi-disciplinary team of doctors in a hospital, and be given the fully-informed consent of the patient. While Mr Ellis admitted this is a “severe test”, he argued it is better than the current system, in which innovative cancer treatments are prevented by law.
Could the Medical Innovation Bill assist clinical negligence claims?
The proposed bill could actually help healthcare professionals identify reckless or criminal doctors while understanding, monitoring and controlling innovation effectively. Mr Ellis said this will allow good doctors to feel confident in their innovative treatment options, while allowing bad doctors to be easily revealed as behaving negligently.
Lord Maurice Saatchi has already introduced these proposals in the House of Lords as a Private Member’s Bill. The proposals largely deal with cancer treatments, but have implications for numerous other medical conditions, and could drive medicine accessibility up the political agenda.
Arguments have also been made for people with terminal illnesses to be legally allowed to request innovative medical treatments, such as drugs that are in the early stage of development. It is rarely the case that patients are allowed to take drugs that are still in development, and people with life-threatening conditions ought to have the right to take useful drugs that medical experts deem fit for them to try.
Medical negligence solicitors have long seen that the drug development process has been unchanged and unchallenged for many years, and have spoken with doctors who are reluctant to prescribe medicines while they are still under development. Some people even try to make clinical negligence claims because they have not been prescribed a drug that has not yet been approved in the UK. Personal injury solicitors can find it hard to determine whether or not prescribing innovative drugs was negligent and reckless, or whether or not it was a sensible decision.
The new proposals could potentially improve patient healthcare standards and make some medical negligence compensation claims far easier to settle. Terminal patients in particular should never be forbidden from trying innovative new therapies which show a great deal of potential purely because their doctors feel doing so would be a professional risk, and personal injury solicitors would surely support moves to ensure this is no longer the case.