Understanding the nature of clinical negligence from a consumer point of view

One of the main parameters determining the market mechanisms of health care services is specific methods of payment. Consumers almost never pay the entire price for health care out of their pockets. Of course, the consumer covers virtually all the costs, but in a very original way. Personally, out of pocket, as a rule, he pays only a fraction of the price, and sometimes doesn’t even pay anything. The rest is covered by public funds (budget, off-budget social funds, etc.), which distributes the financial burden on all participants (citizens, tax payers, etc.). Naturally, in such circumstances, the consumers are allured by over-consumption, while the manufacturers and the sellers are naturally interested in overselling. It should be noted that spending on health care, the cost and volume of medical interventions are not closely correlated with health status of population. In some cases (in some countries) the most inexpensive interventions can lead to favorable shifts in the health of the general population; in other – even the most expensive treatments lead only to a negligible effect.

Indeed, in practice, there are cases of medical care of poor quality, the effects of which may be a futile treatment or harm to the life and health of the patient. In this sense, the unqualified treatment, including the one with medical errors, is rendered with a deviation from the accepted quality standards equivalent to the injury, which may be the basis for bringing health workers to legal responsibility. In terms of the legal evaluation medical care (in order to establish grounds for prosecution of health workers and institutions) can be divided into adverse effects of treatment caused by medical errors, accidents and punishable omissions (professional offense). The fact should be underlined that even legal area is growing – according to solicitors.guru, a prominent UK legal startup, the category of medical negligence solicitors has increased by 12% in comparison with 2013.    

medicalnegligenceHealthcare patients usually can not be the same users of services just like at hotel or restaurant, since medical care is too complex to fully assess its outcomes. Providers of any services can make mistakes. But the cost of failure of a doctor is many times higher than the one, let’s say, of a barber. Patients are forced to trust the doctors, as they have little or simply no other choice. They naively believe that the doctor has no right to make mistakes, and a ‘good’ doctor is never wrong. On the other hand, the impact on patients health care market is almost unpredictable. Consumers create demand, which the doctors are forced to submit more or less willingly. The terms of providing medical services in the majority of health facilities in the presence of persistent structural imbalances in the industry and depreciation of fixed assets, shortage of personnel at the primary health care, equalisation in determining the level of wages of the direct producers, etc, – all this increases the likelihood of the formation of high level of errors among manufacturers.

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