Our case-related expenditure in Hong Kong in the first nine months of 2008 has been broadly in line with our expectations, although with a few unwelcome surprises. We have recently settled a negligence claim with a total outlay of $1.7 million, as a result of which our total case-related expenditure will almost certainly end the year as the highest on record for a single year - although it is of relevance that the treatment to which this claim relates, was provided in 1998.
Even before taking account of this case, it was already becoming clear that the average size of negligence claims had increased again, now suggesting that this probably is a genuine trend after all, rather than a temporary ‘spike’. Looking for trends to explain this, there is no doubt that orthodontic cases involving non-specialists are a continuing cause for concern and so also are implant-related cases.
Both have resulted in some very costly cases. The good news to offset all this is that the actual number of new claims reported to us has reduced slightly from the high average levels of 2002-2007. The net effect of these two factors is almost neutral. Sadly, there been no respite in the legal costs we have been incurring in connection with the Dental Council and those other cases that are not negligence claims. Surprisingly, perhaps, we consistently pay out more in legal costs on PIC and Dental Council inquiries, than we do in defending negligence claims.
It goes without saying that there is always a need for caution and effective risk management, especially when carrying out high-risk procedures.
A summary of our current categories can be found here.