Irish Medical Organisation

Medical Negligence - The Case for Reform

Our current system of recourse to the courts in medical negligence cases is not in the interests of patients, doctors or the State. The IMO conference discusses current measures and future options for Tort reform and how we can best address the culture of litigation in Ireland following adverse clinical events.


Event Timetable

6 CPD Points

Saturday 9th November, Aviva Stadium

8.50 – 9.00 Introduction – Opening Dr Padraig McGarry

9.00 – 10.20: The Impact of Litigation on the Patient, Doctor and State 

The opening session this morning will examine the impact that the current system of recourse to the courts in medical negligence cases has on individuals, the medical profession and the State.


  • Ms Lorraine Reilly, Patient Representative on Saolta Maternity Implementation Group
  • Dr Rhona Mahony – Executive Director of the Women and Children's Clinal Academic Directorate within Ireland East Healthcare Group
  • Ms Catherine Tarrant , Head of Clinical Claims, State Claims Agency


10.20 – 11.00 Tort law and medical negligence in Ireland – Will recent legislative changes improve the system?

Our speaker will look at tort law and how the current system of medical negligence operates as well as what impact recent legislative changes ( including what pre-action protocols and the Mediation Act) will have on medical negligence cases.

Speaker: Mr Simon Mills Senior Counsel and author


11.00-11.30 Coffee Break

11.30 – 12.10 Gross negligence manslaughter in the UK and the implications for Ireland –

This session will examine the Bawa Garba case and the incidents of gross negligence manslaughter in the UK and the potential for a similar case to arise in Ireland.

Speaker: Ms Aisling Timoney - Legal Counsel, Medisec


12.10 – 13.00 The Just Culture – Moving away from a culture of blame

"Just Culture" refers to a culture in which front-line operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them which are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated. Such an approach takes place in the investigation of aviation incidents. It is recommended in healthcare but has not yet become widespread. 

Speaker: Mr Declan Fitzpatrick, Director of Strategy and Policy, Irish Aviation Authority


13.00-14.00 - Lunch


14.00- 14.40 - Open Disclosure – How this Affects the Medical Negligence landscape

A second panel will discuss the importance of Open Disclosure, Current HSE policy and whether the proposals in the Patient Safety Bill are conducive to a frank and honest discussion with patients when things go wrong.


  • Ms Angela Tysall - HSE Open Disclosure Lead
  • Prof Sean Tierney – Dean of Professional Development and Practice, RCSI


14.40 – 15.20 No Faults Claims Systems – International Experience

Our speaker outlines how no faults claims systems operate in other jurisdictions with their advantages and disadvantages.

Speaker: Ms Melanie Rowles, Director of Service Delivery Medical Protection Society

15.20 – 16.00 - Alternatives to the Court – Advantages and Limitations

The final session will examine the advantages and limitations of proposed alternatives to the courts for dealing with cases of medical negligence including alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, redress schemes, tribunals, as well as the feasibility of introducing a Medical Injuries Assessment Board.

Speaker: Justice Charles Meenan

16.00- 16.10 – Closing remarks – Dr Padraig McGarry

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