This would be an indication that a claim for compensation may be intimated on behalf of the patient, or anything that makes it possible that a claim or regulatory proceedings could result. You should look out for formal requests for medical records for the purposes of investigating a claim, or any other letter from solicitors acting on behalf of a patient. Be alert to threats from patients to report you to the GMC, especially as it is difficult to know which patients will carry out such threats. There are some incidents that will almost inevitably trigger an external investigation (eg GMC or Inquest) or an internal investigation. Therefore you should think of serious patient safety incidents (regardless of whether harm to a patient resulted), unexpected patient deaths or internal disciplinary issues arising out of care provided to a patient as having the potential to become a claim or formal regulatory proceedings.
Underwriters should be informed at the earliest possible opportunity. This is because late notification could prejudice the Defence of the claim and may result in cover being withdrawn. As soon as you believe there may be the possibility of a claim it is safer to inform your insurers (via the medico-legal helpline provided by DWF). It is very risky to 'wait and see', because any delay on your part could prejudice your position in relation to your insurers. You should notify via the DWF medico-legal helpline irrespective of your own assessment of the relative merit of the claim, complaint or allegation.
Early notification of any potential claim or incident which could result in a legal claim will mean that it can be properly investigated at the outset and we, DWF and your insurers can provide you with advice and support to ensure that your position is protected from the outset.
Any correspondence from a patient’s solicitors should be passed to DWF (using the medico-legal helpline service), whereupon your insurers may appoint solicitors to act on your behalf and protect your interests. You should not liaise with representatives for any patients without prior discussion with DWF, because your insurers might need to give their express approval to your proposed response to the patient's solicitors. Under no circumstances should you make any admission of liability without your insurers' express permission. This could prejudice the Defence of any claim.
As soon as solicitors are appointed to act on your behalf they will be in contact with you to update you on the position and discuss a strategy for how to proceed. These panel solicitors will report to your insurers and will keep you informed and seek your assistance and instructions where necessary to ensure that the claim is defended appropriately.
You will only be responsible for a sum up to the value of your policy excess (if one applies). This could be used to pay for defence solicitor costs and / or damages and claimants solicitors costs if the case is settled. Once your policy excess has been exhausted you will not be responsible for any further payments as these will be met (up to the applicable Limit of Indemnity) by underwriters
In the first instance, all claims, incidents or circumstances should be notified via the dedicated DWF notification and medico-legal hotline on 0333 010 2826. It would be helpful to have your policy number and any relevant details to