MDU says doctors are not being sued for innovating

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27 June 2014

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) revealed today that it has never known of a case of medical innovation leading to the doctor being sued.

The MDU questioned the need for the Medical Innovation Bill which received its second reading in the House of Lords today. The Bill aims to help doctors provide innovative treatments to patients without fear of litigation, but the MDU, experts in clinical litigation, said the Bill is not needed.

Dr Michael Devlin, head of professional standards and liaison, said:

"The Bill is well-intentioned but it is aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Innovation has always been a part of modern medicine either as part of a research project or because conventional treatments haven't worked for a particular patient. We indemnify about half of UK doctors and doctors are using innovative treatments all the time, but we just haven't seen any negligence claims. 

"We encourage doctors to innovate. They can do so without an increased threat of litigation, so long as they can show they acted in accordance with current legal and ethical principles governing clinical practice. This includes making sure the patient understands what they want to do and why, and agrees.

"We see no need for new legislation as the procedure for innovating is long established and straightforward. The danger with the Bill is it could lead to confusion and delay which wouldn't be in patients' interest."

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