New figures revealed by the Scottish Government indicate that the NHS in Dumfries and Galloway alone has paid out more than £2.5m in medical negligence compensation since 1996.
75 compensation claims have been made against the NHS in the region in just over a decade – the average payout per case is around £33,000. However, over £400,000 was paid out in 2000/1 to cover just two claims.
How do the Dumfries and Galloway payouts compare to the national statistics? According to BBC News, over the same period around £81m was paid out by Scottish health authorities to just over 1900 medical negligence claimants.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of hospital- acquired infections such as MRSA and C Diff. In many cases, perhaps most famously in the case of Leslie Ash, those suffering from these “super bugs” are able to prove that the hospital was negligent, either in its failure to adopt a correct hygiene routine or in misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment.
Medical negligence cases are often a symptom of a poor working culture rather than necessarily bad individual skills on the part of a doctor. It is important to highlight medical negligence whenever it occurs, precisely because it is often not the fault of the individual medical health practitioner, but rather is the fault of the broken system within which they are working.
Medical negligence cases provide a necessary counter-balance to the inertia of bureaucratic and nonsensical procedures that are often as despised by the people following them as they are by the patients who suffer because of them.
Hopefully, figures like the £2.5 million paid by Dumfries and Galloway will be something of a wake-up call to the NHS in Scotland.
If you have been the victim of medical negligence in Scotland, you can continue to read about medical negligence claims in Scotland here, or visit the government’s site for a solid overview of Scottish medical negligence from a more academic standpoint.