A panel of independent experts has backed plans to reform the system of NHS compensation claims in Scotland.
The No-Fault Compensation Review Group, headed by medical law and ethics professor Sheila McLean, was set up by ministers in 2009.
The body has recommended a change to the system which would mean patients who have suffered loss, injury or damage as a result of their treatment receive compensation without having to take the NHS to court.
The new arrangement would still require proof that harm was caused but would remove the need to prove negligence.
The review group’s report suggests a no-fault system would allow for fair and adequate compensation while being speedier and more time and cost-effective than the current system.
A similar scheme is already used in Sweden, New Zealand and several other countries.
The British Medical Association welcomed the findings, saying no-fault compensation will end the “blame culture” within the NHS.
Scottish secretary Martin Woodrow said: “The BMA believes that no-fault compensation offers a less adversarial system of resolving the process for compensating patients for clinical errors.
“A system of no-fault compensation with maximum financial limits would benefit both doctors and patients, speeding up the process and reducing the legal expenses incurred by the current system.
“More importantly, however, it would address the blame culture within the NHS which discourages doctors from reporting accidents and would end the practice of defensive medicine.”
Mr Woodrow added that it was important that any new scheme did not significantly increase costs to the NHS and take money away from patient care.
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said it was important that victims of medical mistakes have some form of redress but that it was in “no-one’s best interests” to have to endure delays as a case goes through the courts, or to see taxpayers’ money spent on expensive legal fees.
Professor McLean said it had been made clear the current system was not meeting the needs of patients.
She said: “I am delighted that the Scottish government has decided to accept the review group’s recommendations and explore how a no-fault compensation system could be introduced in Scotland.
“It is important that the aim of any compensation scheme should be to facilitate access to justice, provide appropriate compensation for injured patients and ensure proper and timely adjudication of claims.”