That’s the way the money goes. . .

Unpicking a multi-million-pound compensation claim.

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Dr John Dale-Skinner

As compensation claim costs against private doctors hit record levels, Independent Practitioner Today asked the MDU’s senior medical claims handler Dr John Dale-Skinner to show why huge compensation payments are more common now – and what doctors can do protect themselves from the risk of litigation.

A lot has changed in the medico-legal landscape since the MDU was founded to defend doctors more than 130 years ago.

In the 1880s, negligence claims were pretty much unheard of and even some 50 years later in 1932, the MDU paid out just over £3,000 in total for medical negligence claims against its members. Today, individual settlements can be in excess of £20m.

unpicking-compensationClaims inflation has been rising at 10% a year for several years and a recent change to the legal formula for calculating compensation payouts – the personal injury discount rate – has added to the problem by doubling the size of some awards.

For example, an MDU case in which a patient had tetraplegia following spinal surgery and 45 years’ life expectancy could receive a compensation payment of £9.2m under the previous discount rate and £17.4m under the new rate.

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