Following on from a handful of cases where employers have been held vicariously liable for the unlawful acts of their employees, there has been a noticeable trend in Claimant law firms casting their nets as far as possible when suing medical professionals and providers by pleading vicarious liability.
The private healthcare sector in the UK is increasingly working closely with the National Health Service (NHS) to offer support in the treatment of coronavirus patients or to care for other patients, raising a number of liability issues that need to be addressed.
In the face of the coronavirus outbreak, the spotlight falls on the front line staff who are tasked with treating potentially tens of thousands of patients suffering various degrees of respiratory illness.
Further to a deal announced by the Government on Saturday, as of today, Monday 23 March, the entire capacity of the private hospital sector in England is dedicated to treat coronavirus patients, and take on work the NHS is too overwhelmed to carry out.
The COVID-19 outbreak is testing the limits of healthcare systems and particularly of staff, which is bearing the mental load of the crisis.
In the 1920s, Hugo Gernsback, an inventor, science fiction enthusiast and founder of a scientific journal called The Electrical Experimenter, conceived of a device that would permit a doctor to conduct consultations from the comfort of the patient’s own home. The Teledactyl (from the Greek for ‘far’ and ‘finger’) would allow the doctor to see and speak to the patient while two remotely controlled arms would allow the doctor to examine the patient.
A digital-first primary care approach by the National Health Service (NHS) in England promises quicker access to general practitioners (GPs), attractive working conditions for staff and cost savings for the organisation. However, to roll out the strategy nationwide, the digital services will need to be properly integrated into the rest of the NHS primary care services, not least because face-to-face appointments will still be needed in some cases.
The healthcare industry is quickly taking advantage of the opportunities that robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and remote diagnosis offer to improve services for clients and make processes more efficient. But is employee liability protection keeping pace with these developments and ensuring that healthcare organisations are protected against technological failures?