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Medical Innovation Bill could lead to “confusion”


30 June 2014

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A bill which would give doctors legal protection to try out novel treatments for patients has been slammed as “unnecessary” by healthcare defence organisation. 
The Medical Innovation Bill, which recently had a second reading in parliament, aims to clarify the differences between “responsible innovation” and “reckless experimentation”. 
However, medical defence organisations question whether the bill is needed. 

A bill which would give doctors legal protection to try out novel treatments for patients has been slammed as “unnecessary” by healthcare defence organisation. 
The Medical Innovation Bill, which recently had a second reading in parliament, aims to clarify the differences between “responsible innovation” and “reckless experimentation”. 
However, medical defence organisations question whether the bill is needed. 
The Medical Defence Union (MDU) said it has “never known of a case” of medical innovation leading to the doctor being sued. 
And the Medical Protection Society (MPS) said the bill is “unnecessary”. 
Dr Nick Clements, head of medical services at MPS said: “Current law already allows doctors acting responsibly to innovate without fear of clinical negligence claims, provided they have the support of a responsible body of peers and the patient’s informed consent. The Bill gives false reassurance to doctors over their legal position and could undermine clinical trials therefore disrupting medical research.
“A full review should look at whether responsible medical innovation is being held back. If this is the case, contributing factors need to be looked at, and only then should well thought through recommendations be put forward.”
Dr Michael Devlin, MDU head of professional standards and liaison, said: "The Bill is well-intentioned but it is aiming to solve a problem that doesn't exist. 
"We see no need for new legislation as the procedure for innovating is long established and straightforward. The danger with the Bill is it could lead to confusion and delay which wouldn't be in patients’ interest.” 
An online petition in favour of the bill has received more than 18,000 signatures from people including doctors, researchers, scientists and charities. 

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