Medical Negligence Claims
Medical negligence claims for compensation are frequently the necessary consequence of when a medical professional makes a mistake in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient´s ailment, which subsequently leads to the patient suffering a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition.
Medical negligence claims can stem from either your physician not taking sufficient care to correctly diagnose your symptoms, surgical complications, excessively delaying treatment for the symptoms of your medical condition or failing to provide appropriate treatment at all.
To establish a case for medical negligence, claims must show that a “duty of care” was owed to you and that the physician or healthcare worker who had undertaken your treatment had made a mistake through a lack of care and that their negligence led to an injury which would have otherwise been avoided “in the circumstances and at the time” if your treatment had been administered properly.
The areas of physician´s duties are clearly explained in the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, and medical negligence claims for compensation must show that a healthcare worker has displayed unacceptable behaviour, failed to communicate important issues and has demonstrated poor professional performance – either a lack of skill or the failure to apply it.
Making Medical Negligence Claims
However, unlike personal injury claims, the medical negligence claims process in Ireland are resolved by negotiation or dealt with by a court rather than assessed by the Injuries Board, and a claim for medical negligence compensation may follow the following process:-
- You would speak with a solicitor who specialises in medical negligence claims in Ireland and explain the injury you sustained which you believe is attributable to medical negligence.
- The solicitor would write to all the professionals involved with your treatment (including administrators, lab technicians and other support staff) to obtain copies of any relevant notes.
- The solicitor will obtain independent medical opinion on whether an alternative course of action “at the time and in the circumstances” would have averted the loss, injury or deterioration of an existing condition.
- You would then be informed whether you have a claim for medical negligence which is worth your while to pursue and, if so, provided with details of the procedures that may have to be completed for your particular claim.
It will always be your decision whether or not to proceed with a medical negligence claim for compensation.
Medical Negligence Claims and Contributory Negligence
One of the major issues regarding medical negligence claims in Ireland is whether the plaintiff has contributed to the cause or extent of an injury by their own lack of care. Examples of this include if a patient has attended their doctor and failed to communicate the full range of symptoms they have experienced – creating a misleading picture of their illness – if a patient has failed to take the medication prescribed for them or if they have missed follow up appointments with their doctors or referrals to consultants.
Even if a patient has every good intention, and failed to explain to a nurse in hospital that they are in pain because the nurse is busy, medical negligence claims could be contested on the grounds that it was the patient´s own fault that their condition deteriorated. Being construed as having contributed to your medical injury will not automatically disqualify you from making medical negligence claims, but it could delay the resolution of your claim and may affect how much compensation for medical negligence you ultimately receive.
Who Pays Medical Negligence Compensation?
By law, every medical practitioner wishing to practise medicine in Ireland must be registered with The Medical Council of Ireland. They in turn, insist that every medical practitioner – no matter what their specialised field of practise – holds comprehensive professional indemnity insurance to cover medical negligence claims. Consequently, if you feel that you have been the victim of medical negligence, claims for compensation are usually made against the medical practitioner´s insurance company rather than the individual(s) responsible for your injury.
The exception to this is when medical negligence claims are made against a hospital, clinic or surgery. When the individual healthcare worker who is responsible for your loss, injury or the deterioration of an existing condition is employed by a medical facility, they are considered to be “agents and servants” of that facility. Therefore, if you have sustained an injury due to inadequate nursing care at a public hospital, your claim for medical negligence compensation would be made against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and paid for by the State Claims Agency.