In an increasingly litigious society healthcare professionals are finding themselves more vulnerable to the potential for claims. It is widely acknowledged that there is a growing tendency among patients to pursue claims for compensation when treatment has not resulted in the desired or anticipated outcome. Furthermore, the regulatory structures within which healthcare professionals operate has changed dramatically over the last decade resulting in tighter regulation all round.
The medical litigation team
handles primarily defence cases on behalf of doctors and dentists, with the majority of instructions coming from one of the major medical defence organisations. The keystone of the department's ethos is goal driven case management, regardless of the work area (or often areas) involved in each individual case to the benefit of our clients.
What we do
• Clinical Negligence Defence
We represent doctors, dentists, nurses and other healthcare professionals in the defence of clinical negligence claims. Claims in Northern Ireland can be slow to process and our aim is to be proactive wherever possible in progressing cases. We conduct detailed reviews of medical records, take statements from all clinicians involved and instruct experienced experts to advise. We have a substantial track record across all variety of cases, including cases of the utmost severity with damages claimed well in excess of £1million.
Our solicitors regularly appear before all of the civil courts in Northern Ireland and conduct their own advocacy where appropriate.
• Regulatory Complaints: Appeals & Representation
Recent years have revealed an exponential rise in the number of complaints made to healthcare regulators, with concomitant investigations and hearings. Any clinician involved in a regulatory complaint knows that the stakes are high and a negative outcome can dramatically affect livelihoods. Our team understands the unique stresses involved in a regulatory investigation and is experienced in dealing with all of the main healthcare regulators. We regularly appear before panels and committees at the General Medical Council and General Dental Council in cases dealing with health and conduct. We also represent Doctors in the Republic of Ireland in complaints before the Irish Medical Council.
This is a dynamic and rapidly changing area of law and it is important for healthcare professionals to have legal representatives who regularly practice in the field and understand its intricacies.
• Legal Advice on Practice Based Complaints
Our team provides advice to general practitioners and general dental practitioners, in relation to practice based complaints. Often, the procedures applying to practice based complaints are complex and difficult to follow, resulting in clients needing guidance on how to resolve a complaint effectively.
It is worth bearing in mind that in many cases, the earlier a complaint is resolved, the less serious the potential consequences.
• Coroner's Inquests: Representing Healthcare Professionals
Appearing in court is never an experience that healthcare professionals take lightly, but where the subject matter of the court hearing is the death of a patient, the pressures can be intense. Our team has years of experience representing healthcare professionals at inquests and we understand how important the pre-hearing tactical decisions can be.
In all cases, we conduct a detailed review of notes and spend time with the clinician discussing their involvement in the patient’s care. We provide assistance drafting statements. If necessary, we engage experienced experts and liaise with the Coroner to arrange for those experts to be called as witnesses. Each member of our team appears regularly before the Coroner conducting advocacy in person where appropriate or instructing experienced barristers.
• Criminal Investigations
Healthcare professionals rarely find themselves the subject of a criminal investigation, but when they do, it is important that they appreciate that an adverse outcome may not only have repercussions by way of the court’s sanctions but will usually lead to a regulatory investigation. We regularly deal with a broad variety of offences, including cases involving allegations of assault, indecent assault, gross negligence manslaughter, attempting to pervert the course of justice, theft and misuse of drugs.
• Internal Hospital Disciplinary Investigations
We frequently advise and represent Hospital based clinicians in relation to internal disciplinary investigations. Dismissal from NHS employment can have serious implications on a clinician’s ability to obtain employment elsewhere. It is not uncommon for hospital management to liaise with regulators during such investigations, therefore a regulatory investigation may follow. It is paramount to respond to internal investigations appropriately, in order to minimise any potential harm that could be caused by a regulatory investigation.
• Public Inquiries
Our team has been and continues to be involved in the highest profile public inquiries within the healthcare field in Northern Ireland.
Tughans healthcare litigation team is committed to achieving results for its clients. The team is well respected locally and nationally for its depth of expertise and is led by Andrew Anthony.
Healthcare law is a dynamic area of law which can involve a wide range of legal services. Our dedicated healthcare team has the depth of experience to recognize potential problems at the earliest stage possible which enables us to provide appropriate advice to clients and the best course of action to take in order to minimize disruption to their professional careers.
"They are certainly in the top level of defence practitioners
." (Chambers UK 2014
Individuals within the department who have received recognition include Andrew Anthony
and Alistair Wilson.