23 February 2018

Bad, Mad or Sad Health Practitioners

'Mind the Information Gap: Quantifying the Courts’ Role in Responding to Patient Harm, 1989 to 2013' by Wendy Bonython and Bruce Baer Arnold in (2018) 25(2) Journal of Law and Medicine 549-571 comments
 An empirical critique of Australia’s medical indemnity “crisis” challenges assumptions about the role of the courts through determination of civil liability for medical negligence, occupational discipline and criminal liability. Courts were identified as a cause of a “crisis” in the 2000s that triggered extensive legislative reform of medical negligence law, absent adequate empirical data substantiating either criticisms of the courts or supporting the reforms. Changes to the occupational discipline framework for health practitioners were less controversial but have resulted in increasingly legalistic responses. 
Using a detailed longitudinal analysis across all jurisdictions this article examines the role of the courts in responding to patient harm across the relevant 25-year period encompassing these reforms, to determine whether the courts did “cause” the medical indemnity crisis, what effect the reforms had and what other roles the courts play in responding to patient harm.