First annual medico-legal expert witness conference

  • Published: December 07, 2018
  • Author: Caren Scott, Managing Director, Inspire MediLaw

"A top-notch conference, with plenty of opportunities to engage with the speakers."

More than 55 leading consultants, GPs and medical experts came together in what was described as "a very interactive day of medico-legal discussion and debate" for our first-ever annual conference.

Dr Simon Fox QC addressed the conference on the correct test for breach of duty in clinical negligence.

Simon's session on giving evidence in Court was hugely appreciated. He explained the guidelines for expert witnesses, as set out in the Civil Procedure Rulesalong with some tips on Court etiquette...peppered with anecdotes from his own experience.

"I will be attending a further meeting on being an expert witness."

There was a lively panel discussion, ably chaired by Paul Sankey, of Enable Law, about the relationship between an expert and their instructing solicitor. Delegates voiced frustration about receiving unpaginated bundles of records, poorly drafted or unclear instructions, and short notice of important dates. Our legal panel encouraged experts to revert to instructing solicitors with queries or requests for clarification. The key? Build a rapport, communicate regularly, and don't be afraid just to pick up the phone!

"The day...gave an insightful review of the lawyers' view of interactions with medical experts."

Paul Sankey's presentation on informed consent sparked discussion on misunderstandings about the issues surrounding Montgomery and consent. Paul talked about the importance of ensuring that patients understand the information they are given, and that they are given the information they need to make a decision. The question of what is material to the patient is also important, and should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Paul will be exploring Montgomery consent in practice, and facilitating role-play situations, at our upcoming Consent in Practice training.

"Thanks for a great conference this week, excellent in every way."

Ian Cohen (Simpson Millar) explained the implications of fixed costs in clinical negligence claims, especially relating to the proposal to limit experts' fees. Such financial restriction will serve only to obstruct those seeking to bring clinical negligence claims, as value does not equate to complexity in these investigations. Ian urged experts to join the call for the Government to invest in training to improve patient safety through cost saving, rather than restrict the ability of those suffering clinical negligence to seek redress.

"An important update, well presented – a day well spent."

On patient safety, Mr Amar Alwitry, consultant opthalmologist, set out his research and recommendations regarding robust processes for feedback. He observed that there are many stakeholders at present, all receiving information relating to patient safety incidents, but very little measurable action being taken. He proposes that patient safety alerts be highlighted across the board, with a robust process to ensure they are read and disseminated.

"Thanks for a great conference this week, excellent in every way."

Mediation has become a more commonly used method of resolving clinical negligence disputes. It is also used in serious medical treatment situations and should be considered in general workplace disputes. Dr Chris Danbury, a specialist in intensive care medicine and mediator, noted that all parties to a dispute come to the table with their own agenda. The mediator is independent, objective, and has no vested interest in resolving the matter. He emphasised the importance of learning mediation skills to put into practice in clinical and non-clinical situations. Chris will be co-convening the Inspire MediLaw Mediation Skills Training Day in March 2019.

"An enjoyable and educational day that will no doubt improve the quality of my medico-legal reporting."

Emma Banister Dean (Royds Withy King) spoke to delegates about the impact of GDPR on their practice and gave guidance on compliance. We welcomed Facilitate Expert Solutions, who offered practical advice and consultation in relation to administration and accounts.

"Pitched at just the right level. Presented in a relaxed but highly informative style, with plenty of scope for interaction and questions."

If you're interested in starting or developing your own medico-legal practice, book your place on one of our expert witness training events.



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Inspire MediLaw
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