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Open Disclosure Policy Being Widely Ignored in Hospitals Nationwide

The Irish Examiner have published an Opinion-Editorial Published has claimed that the open disclosure policy created for the Health Service Executive is unlikely to be applied nationwide in the foreseeable future.

The open disclosure policy dictates when the HSE should tell families when there are issues with the standard of healthcare provided to patients. The policy was created in November 2013, but still is largely not adhered to by hospitals. The open editorial-written by Catherine Shanahan-claimed that the policy is good on paper, but is very unlikely to be thoroughly enforced nationwide.

Shanahan used wrote about seven cases of medical negligence in detail to highlight her point. These cases occurred in 2015 and, and were widely covered by the media. According to Shanahan, they demonstrate how the HSE is frequently does not admit to negligence and denies liability for the injuries of those in its care. Therefore, patients and their families are forced to seek legal counsel and bring their cases to court if they want to learn the true story of the events they endured.

On of the cases in the open-editorial piece was that of Gil Russell. The case gained public attention because of the action with the Sates Claim Agency. She was born in 2006 with cerebral palsy because of negligence surrounding her birth. Her delivery was described as a “prolonged and totally chaotic”, and left her deprived of oxygen in utero. The HSE only issued an apology in 2012, six years after the incident occurred. At the same time, an interim settlement of compensation was awarded.

The Russell family were back in the High Court in 2014, after a final settlement of compensation was negotiated. They were awarded a €13.5 million lump settlement, which was the largest ever awarded by the state for cerebral palsy. The State Claims Agency then made an attempt to appeal the settlement, though the case was later rejected. The case was then taken to the Supreme Court, which depriving Gill and her family of the settlement and financial support which they needed.

Other cases mentioned in the editorial included Skye Worthington and Katie Manton. Both of these cases had involved a similar negligence claim to Gill Russell, and their injuries were sustained in similar circumstances. Furthermore, like Gill, both waited for years to receive an apology from the Health Service Executive for their mismanaged births.

The article makes a clear case for the claim that the policy is not being applied in Irish hospitals, and that the money put towards public and doctor education concerning the policy was a waste of government funds.

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