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Casebook Vol. 22 no. 1 - January 2014

From the case files...

Dr Sonya McCulloughMPS works hard to defend claims wherever possible. Part of a strong defence is having knowledgeable and skilled expert witnesses to demonstrate that the doctor in question has acted in the patient’s best interests and in line with good medical practice.

Perhaps the best defence of all is making sure your diagnosis and treatment plans are of the requisite standard; examinations (where necessary) are thorough and well-documented; valid consent is both taken and recorded; and note-keeping is accurate and contemporaneous.

In “The twisted knee”, Ms C brought a claim against Mr A, alleging, amongst other things, that he had negligently performed an arthroscopy in the absence of an MRI scan and unreasonably diagnosed a meniscal tear. Expert opinion found no liability on the part of Mr A, concluding that his preoperative working diagnosis was eminently reasonable in light of Ms C’s symptoms and signs. As a result, the claim was subsequently discontinued and no payment was made.

Perhaps the best defence of all is making sure your diagnosis and treatment plans are of the requisite standard

Mrs J made a claim against Dr A in “A tear during delivery” as she was advised that if Dr A had carried out an episiotomy and avoided the use of ‘double instruments,’ her symptoms would have been avoided.

She felt that a diagnosis of a third degree tear had been missed, and had subsequently had a major impact on her life. Expert opinion found that the episiotomy was not essential in this case, and detailed contemporaneous notes confirmed that the anal sphincter was intact, despite the second degree tear that was observed.

Sometimes, when a case cannot be defended, MPS works on a member’s behalf to ensure favourable settlement terms.

For example, in “Common can be complicated”, Miss G’s family alleged she was unable to use public transport unaccompanied due to her persistent symptoms, which they argued would hinder future employment prospects. Investigations by the MPS legal team revealed that Miss G could use public transport independently; therefore reducing the final settlement offer significantly.