Background: The aim of this paper is to explore factors that may be associated with intent to pursue legal action in the event of a major medical error or complication. Relative influences of socio-economic variables (age, sex, religiosity, educational attainment, type of funding of medical costs, etc.) have been identified elsewhere and which contribute towards patientsí higher or lesser likelihood of litigious intentions.
Methods: The data for this paper originate from the survey of service users (N = 312) called the Influence of Socio-Economic Factors on Attitudes towards Surgery which took place in Galway, Ireland from spring 2015 to spring 2016. The originality of this project is its emphasis on service usersí attitudes and was conducted at the Accident and Emergency Department of the National University Hospital Galway, Ireland. Most other studies focus on in-patient and out-patient specialised departments which in our view would have created a biased set of findings. Therefore, the rationale was to access a random sample from the public with representation of various medical issues and respondents from different social classes.
Results: Since this is one of the first two papers to come out of the study, our intent is to provide descriptive narrative of the most influential variables associated with patientsí litigious intentions. For that purpose, some basic descriptive statistics and graphs were analysed to identify patterns in the collected data. Results suggest that gross income, belonging to religious denomination, type of funding of medical care, age, level of educational attainment, and level of religiosity can guide us in better understandings who are the more likely service users to complain from those who are more likely to issue legal proceedings.
Conclusions: The findings presented in this paper bring together a host of insightful conclusions about the relationship between socio-economic factors and likelihood to litigate. There are also conclusions to be drawn on societal level in terms of levels of unemployment in Galway city far exceeding the national average, connection between post-secondary educational attainment and unemployment, and reliance on medical cards in this context.