There has been a lot of talk about the rising cost of clinical negligence: the increasing number of claims, and the increasing levels of awards. We also hear the rhetoric that the fear of litigation drives doctors to practise defensive medicine. But I hear members tell me that it is the dread of a complaint to the Medical Council, and the risk of a public hearing, trial by media and reputational damage that concern them much more than a claim.
That is not to disregard the stress of litigation – but, generally speaking, the fact that your indemnity arrangements will step in to meet the financial costs of a claim makes it a less personally traumatic experience than the sanctions you might face at, for example, the hands of your employer, regulator or even the police. Although the cost of claims is far and away the largest call on members’ funds at MPS, they only represent about 20% of the cases we handle worldwide – the rest are complaints, inquests, disciplinary cases and other medicolegal challenges to a member’s professional practice. Our feature, "On deadly ground", illustrates just some of the wide-ranging problems that members contact us for advice on.