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New legislation to compel hospitals to admit negligence to families

The move follows revelations about the deaths of four babies at Portlaoise Hospital.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
Image: Niall Carson/PA

MINSTER FOR JUSTICE Alan Shatter said today that he and the Minister for Health James Reilly have started work on legislation that will mean staff and hospitals would have to tell patients or families of any medical negligence.

Speaking today to the Family Lawyers Association, the minister referenced the situation in Portlaoise Hospital, where serious concerns have now been expressed the deaths of four babies over six years.

“There can be no valid excuse for the manner in which some families were treated by Portlaoise Hospital as disclosed in recent days,” Shatter said.

“The distress caused to families through lapses in medical care should not be magnified by the conduct of hospitals and state authorities subsequently engaging in an unnecessarily contentious and defensive handling of such unfortunate events,” he said. “Families should not face further and ongoing hardship caused by hospitals and state bureaucracies refusing to engage and acknowledge fault where it properly and obviously rests with them.”

The new legislation would mean hospitals and medical personnel have to tell patients and families of any medical incidents that have caused harm to the patient.

“I believe that if hospitals were to investigate an incident and to admit liability quickly once medical negligence had been established, such reform would be much more beneficial to families,” the minister said.

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He also pointed out that this would avoid families having to go to court to prove negligence, saving them the expense of legal costs. It would also save taxpayers money because it would “no longer be wasted by state agencies seeking to defend the indefensible”.

Read: Concerned parents turn to helpline after Portlaoise Hospital revelations>

Read: Health Minister calls for report into the death of babies at Portlaoise Hospital >

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