All Posts in Category: Dentist Medical Negligence

Dentist Negligence Compensation Action Settled for €60k

Roisin Mimnagh, has settled a €60,000 dentist negligence compensation claim against her former dentist for an undisclosed figure in the Circuit Civil Court following a treatment that she said left her scared to smile.

Following the treatment of 50-year-old Mrs Mimnagh, the Court was informed that she had been shocked to see that an incisor had been filed away without her permission and filled in with an amalgam or composite.

Mrs Mimnagh legal counsel, David McParland, informed Judge Jacqueline Linnane that his client was someone who was normally happy with how she looked. She had made an appointment with Dr Anna O’Donovan, Griffith Avenue, Dublin, to have an incisor realigned. He stated: “To her horror she afterwards found that her tooth had been filed away and replaced with an amalgam or composite that was smaller and shorter and different from her original tooth”.

Dr O’Donovan, represented Barrister Sarah Corcoran, informed the Judge that her client had entered a full defence to Ms Mimnagh’s legal action. However they had accepted that written consent for the specific treatment for her tooth had not been received prior to it being administered. She went on to say that the case before the court was not one of deciding liability but a matter of assessing damages.

Remedial work was carried out in 2013 shortly after the initial treatment. Mr McParland said Ms Mimnagh was still wearing an appliance on her tooth. He added that a dental expert was of the opinion her that she would need further realignment work.

Judge Linnane was informed by Mr McPartland that his client at first thought she was going to have some white filling applied to her tooth to make it look straighter. She was very traumatised when she later saw it had been filed away and an amalgam or composite applied to it. This left her scared to smile.

Judge Linnane told the Court that she had reviewed the pleadings and had found that the latest expert report was over three years old. Due to this she said that she would be unable to assess damages as the reports were outdated. As an alternative route, Judge Linnane suggested some talks about settling the case. Ms Corcoran informed her that Dr O’Donovan had always had “a significant willingness” conduct talks. Mr McParland returned to Court shortly later to advise the Judge that the case had been settled and could be struck out with an order for Ms Mimnagh’s legal costs to be taxed in default of agreement.

 

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Medical Negligence Compensation Payouts of €268m Made by State Claims Agency in last two years

The overall amount of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in relation to medical negligence claims totals over half a billion euro in the past two years.

New figures released by Minister for Health Simon Harris show that the amount of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in 2018 was €268.45m for medical negligence cases – an increase of €18.6 million – or 7.5% – on the €249.77m paid out in 2017. This brings the total amount of compensation for medical negligence paid out in 2017-18 to €518.2m.

The figures were provided by the State Claims Agency (SCA)  in response to a a written Dáil question by Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman, Michael McGrath. It also reveals that the highest sum paid out last year under medical negligence was €15.5m in relation to a cerebral palsy case compensation claim.

Cases linked to birth negligence or cerebral palsy accounted for seven of the top ten medical negligence payouts in 2018. The figures release indicate that, in the seven cerebral palsy cases, a total of €60.3m compensation was paid out in order to provide adequate treatment for the individuals concerned for the remainder of their lives.

The remainder of the top ten was made up of cases that in the top ten payments concerned a pay-out of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery and a separate payout of €5.9m under the same category.

The lowest payout in the top ten was €4.37 million paid out concerning a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology service.

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Health Minister Queries Accuracy of Dental Treatment Claims

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has queried the accuracy of dental treatment claims that thousands of hospital tooth extractions could be avoided each year.

Delegates at the recent seminar in Carlow for dentists working in the Health Service Executive were told that up to ten thousand children under the age of fifteen were needlessly undergoing multiple extractions under anaesthetic in hospitals.

The reason given for the extraordinary dental treatment claims was that cuts in children´s dental services in Ireland had resulted in a decrease in the availability of oral education in schools and a reduction in the schools screening service.

The reduction in the schools screening service had resulted in many children suffering chronic oral infections – particularly in Galway, Offaly, Kerry and some parts of Cork – with anecdotal evidence being presented that children were being admitted to hospital for antibiotic treatment while they waited for appropriate dental care.

Speaking at the seminar, Anne Twomey – the president of the Irish Dental Association – said “ninety-five percent of these cases would have been avoidable if they had been detected and treated earlier.” She added that the cost of the avoidable extractions would many times more than the money that had been saved.

However Health Minister Leo Varadkar has queried the accuracy of the dental treatment claims. The Minister told reporters “The number of publicly-employed dentists has gone down from about 312 to 300 in the last couple of years”, he said, “so there hasn´t been a significant reduction in the number of publicly-employed dentists”.

He denied that avoidable hospital extractions were running at five times the rate of the UK and added that the figures he had seen suggested that 3,600 dental extractions under anaesthetic were conducted on children under the age of fifteen last year. He said “I think we need to know all the facts before jumping to conclusions”.

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Pre-Action Protocol Aims to Reduce Cost of Making Clinical Negligence Claims

The Medical Protection Society has released “pre-action protocol” proposals, which it hopes can be run on a trial basis to reduce the cost of making clinical negligence claims in Ireland.

The “pre-action protocol” proposals released by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) aim to promote openness and transparency between solicitors acting on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants, reduce the length of time it takes for legal action against medical professionals to be resolved and reduce the cost of making clinical negligence claims in Ireland.

Due to the costs involved in litigating legal action, the cost of making clinical negligence claims in Ireland can prevent some plaintiffs from recovering compensation for their injuries. The MPS hopes that, with the opportunity for clinical negligence claims to be investigated and resolved before court action is necessary, the protocols should cut the costs of clinical negligence claims by using mediation to settle claims quicker in a less adversarial environment.

Emma Hallinan – Director of Claims at MPS – is proposing that the protocol be trialled voluntarily before legislation is introduced to enforce mediation between parties. She said “We recognise the important role that the MPS must play, and have committed to trialling procedural reform before it is introduced in statute. We are in the process of writing to plaintiff lawyers with large medical negligence practices to request that they work with us to pilot this.”

During the MPS´s proposed trial, a tariff of general damages would be used – similar to the UK´s Judicial College “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” – which would provide a scale of compensation values for specific physical injuries caused by clinical negligence ranging from dental damage to life-changing brain injuries.

General damages for psychological injuries and loss of amenity – as well as special damages for the financial costs of hospital negligence – would still have to be resolved by negotiation, but many observers looking at the MPS´s “pre-action protocol” proposals acknowledge that it is a step in the right direction for reducing the costs of hospital negligence claims in Ireland.

Note: In England and Wales a similar scheme currently exists which penalises solicitors who go for litigation without first attempting a resolution by mediation.

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