Critics of the Medical Innovation Bill like to say that patients will be at risk from doctors trying out new treatments because they will somehow be protected from negligence claims.
This is wrong for two reasons. A patient will be safer under this bill than under current common law.
First, a doctor wishing to rely on the bill must obtain the views of at least one other qualified doctor experienced in the patient’s condition.
This must be done in advance of treatment. Under current law, a doctor does not need to consult with colleagues; there is no legal requirement to take account of, or even obtain, the views of other doctors.
Therefore, the Medical innovation Bill is a step forward for patient safety.
It has been argued by some that the necessity to obtain the views – while not requiring their full agreement – is also a danger. This is not so.
A doctor wishing to innovate under the bill could not ignore advice because no judge would find in favour of a doctor who proceeded with an innovation against the advice of colleagues.
The Bill obliges the innovating doctor not only to seek the views of others before treating the patient, it also obliges the doctor to obtain all the standard consents necessary under current law.
Hence, a doctor must do what he or she does now AND build consensus for his or her innovation as well.
Therefore, those who like the current innovation process will welcome the Medical Innovation Bill for adding an extra level of patient protection.