Beginning in St Kitts on 29 October 2013, the visit saw Dr Charles focus on discussions with local law firms. MPS utilises panel law firms to represent members facing clinical negligence claims and this part of the trip aimed to secure the best possible legal representation for MPS members in St Kitts.
It was explained to Dr Charles that the medicolegal environment in St Kitts – encouragingly for members – is slow, but the frequency of lawsuits brought before the Attorney General was increasing. However, overall risk remained low, compared to other Caribbean countries – the small community, and fear of repercussions from making a complaint, was suggested as a reason for claims being comparatively uncommon.
One area of concern is the fast-growing cruise industry – where medicolegal implications may arise from unrealistic expectations of the standard of medical care available. A lively discussion was then facilitated by Dr Charles, as he delivered a presentation to more than 50 local doctors – ranging from junior staff to consultants – on “Safeguarding your practice: the six C’s”.
Much of the debate focused on:
- Consent processes and local shortcomings
- Confidentiality issues, especially in relation to HIV and disclosure to protect partners and others in society
- Disclosure for the court and police investigations
- Communication and why people sue
- What is negligence – determining the standard of care for a local situation
- Saying sorry.
After two brief visits to Antigua and Barbados, to meet MPS members and local law firms, it was then over to Grenada at the end of October, where Dr Boodhoo and Dr Charles met with another local law firm to discuss levels of medicolegal risk on the island. It was reported that the majority of clinical negligence claims are settled out of court in Grenada, and that such claims are still relatively low in frequency.