The dangers of litigation culture for health professionals

Litigation; to sue for damages, even for the most simple violation of rights. Often this involves the prosecution not having common sense it seems (Urban Dictionary, 2015). Over a number of years litigation culture seems to have become a part of the national psyche. Where there is blame there is apparently a claim. Though there may be no objective proof of this litigation culture but there are frequent claims within newspapers, official reports, political and legislative debates that a litigation culture genuinely exists. As a result, it has become an idea that has propagated itself within our thinking creating an undeserved sense of entitlement amongst people. Accordingly, claims seems to have become the theme of most adverts on television, radio and the internet, almost to a point of oversaturation.

The growth of a compensation culture implies an increase and unreasonable desire to seek recompense when things go wrong while also demonstrating an epic lack of common sense. Litigation culture has made it so morals means nothing. If people feel they are capable of making easy money they will try. When encouraged they may feel like they will succeed.The business model of “no win, no fee” has fuelled an unhealthy greed with no risk being borne by the potential claimant. Tellingly, litigation culture has become increasingly noticeable for health professionals, with many litigation advertisements focussing on potential claims for medical negligence. As a result, protecting yourself from an increased risk of litigation has unfortunately become an increasingly important part of the job description for many health professionals.

 

Whether or not a litigation culture genuinely exists is open to debate. However, the extreme cases we hear and read about create an acute awareness of the issue. With this awareness, many health professionals may believe themselves to be at an increased risk of being unfairly sued. With the question “did something go wrong with your medical treatment?” being regularly asked during these parasitic advertisements it is unfair that it can be answered so subjectively. After all, one person’s success can be deemed another's failure. It is a all a matter of perception as to whether a potential claim exists or not. The very idea that your ability and professionalism as health professional may be brought into question is another cost of litigation that cannot be counted.

I will take a moment to say that while not all litigation against health professionals is unfounded but many claims are unnecessary. Many of us have been persuaded by media stories and by advertising from claims management companies that large sums of money are easily accessible. This has created a have a go attitude based on the idea that litigation culture has transcended from urban myth to reality and has encouraged an unquantifiable minority to press forward with speculative litigation that indeed lacks merit or morals. Amongst all this, those with genuine claims are lost amongst it all as the rest of us lump together the rightful majority with the deviant minority.

This brings me to the main subject of this particular blog post. As a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) physiotherapists are provided with many benefits. One of these is indemnity insurance. Indemnity insurance is an important and necessary part of our ability to safely practice. Have you ever read the terms and conditions of your provided indemnity insurance though? Possibly? Do you know where to find them? Maybe? If you have taken the time to read this far I implore you to read upon and research the terms of your personal liability insurance. It is important you understand what you are and aren’t covered for if potential litigation is brought against you. It may not be as comprehensive as you thought. Unlike other terms and conditions it is important that you read these.

Below is a link to the CSP web page pertaining to indemnity insurance:

http://www.csp.org.uk/professional-union/practice/insurance

It will not take much for you to be proactive, please take the time to read the fine print. It is unfortunate that I should feel it necessary to write a blog on such a topic. After all, we are in the business of helping people by helping to maintain and restore quality of life. The very idea that we can be profited from is abhorrent due to the very nature of our vocations. However, there will always be what perceive to be unnecessary greed so we must be prepared to defend ourselves from it so we are able to continue to do what we are needed for.

Alex Curran LinkedIn Profile

Read more from Alex :

The importance of being honest 

Master Manipulators

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