Hospitals Can Avoid Clinical Negligence Through Proper Health And Safety
30th May 2013
Health and Safety regulations can protect healthcare providers against medical negligence claims, so long as they follow the standards within the regulations to the letter.
For example, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 calls on employers to ensure they conduct all business operations in a way that ensures that nobody who isn’t employed by the business and who may be affected by it is exposed to any risks to their well-being. Other regulations also call for businesses to ensure that their staff members are protected and that they do not face any risks. Employers must take all “reasonably practicable” steps to protect staff and employees and ensure their health and safety is protected.
In healthcare settings, this can impact a wide range of operations, and provides a good way for firms to protect themselves from medical negligence claims. It is not just patients who can claim for compensation from a hospital – nurses, doctors, porters and any other member of staff can also make a claim if the circumstances of their personal injury are relevant.
But when breaches of health and safety regulations are realized in clinical negligence claims, businesses can also find themselves prosecuted in court. They may find themselves facing substantial fines and large court costs, and in extreme cases negligent staff or other responsible parties may face criminal charges and even custodial sentences.
Although risks to patient health, fines, prosecutions and medical negligence compensation cases are all good reasons to adhere to health and safety regulations, the reputation damage that can be caused by publicized cases can also seriously impact a healthcare provider’s bottom line. Prestige and public confidence can take a nosedive following clinical negligence claims, and businesses can find it very hard to recover from this damage.
How health and safety regulations can prevent clinical negligence claims
Strictly adhering to health and safety regulations helps to make workplaces as safe as possible for staff and patients. While occasional errors made in surgery, in diagnosis or elsewhere in healthcare treatment might result in clinical negligence claims, providing excellent standards of health and safety can minimize this risk. Potential hazards can be spotted early and dealt with promptly though regular risk assessments before any staff or patients are damaged as a result of the danger.
For instance, adhering to health and safety regulations relating to the administration and storage of medicines can limit the likelihood of patients dying or suffering adverse health effects due to improper treatment. There have been clinical negligence cases following the death of patients who have been prescribed strong drugs instead of saline solutions, or who have been provided with an excessive dose of strong painkillers such as morphine and have died from an overdose. With these real and apparent risks involved in the administration of drugs, healthcare providers should have systems in place to deal with these hazards and to ensure the safety of patients.
Hospitals could keep fluids in different dispensers with different styles of packaging and could have proper management systems relating to the storage of medicines, for example. They could also regularly train staff that administer drugs in checking to ensure the right drug is being administered and have further levels of oversight in the checking out and use of dangerous medicines.
While different healthcare settings might have different risks and therefore might have different methods of dealing with these risks, risk assessments and other forms of hazard management will be essential and can help them to avoid clients making clinical negligence claims and all the associated damages that can come alongside this problem. Undoubtedly, healthcare facilities wish to provide every patient with the best possible standard of care and health and safety regulations help them to achieve this goal.
Healthcare businesses that are uncertain whether or not they are achieving these standards may wish to find medical negligence solicitors who are willing to act as consultants and implement any advice they have to offer. Doing so will show that they take health and safety seriously and will enable them to deliver high quality care and treatment to everyone they deal with. Furthermore, it will also provide part of their defense if they ever find themselves defending against clinical negligence compensation claims or being prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations.
It is obviously better for businesses to make changes now than to find themselves forced to make changes by the Health and Safety Executive following a prosecution and an embarrassing court case. These regulations exist for the good of businesses as well as the public and strict adherence to them should always be part of a company’s strategy.