Letter: Medical mistakes

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your leading article "The scandal of medical compensation cases" (Review, 21 July) concludes with a call for all disabled children to have access to specialist therapists without the need to resort to litigation.

The Medical Protection Society has long been an advocate of a ring-fenced, no-fault compensation scheme for victims of profound brain injury.

However, we make the following points.

Where concern is raised about the outcome of medical treatment, patients and/or their representatives are entitled to a clear explanation of what has taken place and full answers to their questions.

We encourage early disclosure of medical records once a reason has been given. Approximately 60 per cent of claims are abandoned once disclosure has been made.

The development of the pre-action protocol as part of the Woolf reforms will expedite resolution. If that fails, under the new civil justice regime it is for the court, not the claimant or defendant, to set the timetable to bring the case to trial.

There is a need to ensure that all patients with profound brain damage receive the help they require, not just a minority who are able to prove that their damage was due to someone else's shortfall in care.

Dr GERARD PANTING

Medical Protection Society

London W1

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