Claims for a Foreign Object Left in a Patient

I have been told that I cannot make claims for a foreign object left in a patient to the Injuries Board Ireland. Is this right?

Answer:

Claims for a foreign object left in a patient are regarded by the Injuries Board Ireland as being cases of medical negligence and, whereas you may not need an expert medical opinion to assess whether medical negligence has occurred in this scenario, the Injuries Board Ireland will decline to assess any claims for a foreign object left in a patient. There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly, the medical practitioner responsible for leaving a foreign object inside a patient may have been one of a number of people involved in your surgery. When you submit an assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland, you have to state who you believe the negligent party is and, if you name the wrong medical practitioner, your application for assessment could go backwards and forwards for a considerable period of time.

Secondly, although there is no disputing that a foreign object may have been left inside your body following a medical procedure, you are unable to claim compensation for a foreign object left in a patient unless an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition has resulted. Without a quantifiable injury, there can be no claims for a foreign object left in a patient, and it may be a matter of expert medical opinion whether any injury has occurred at all.

Your best course of action would be to discuss with a solicitor the circumstances of how you came to discover that a foreign object had been left in your body and what injury was sustained, or what consequence the discovery had on your quality of life. It may be the case that you have suffered an emotional trauma rather than a physical one but, after an assessment, the solicitor will be able to advise you whether you have a compensation claim for a foreign object left in a patient which is worth your while to pursue.

Should it be felt that you have a justifiable claim; the solicitor will engage the services of an expert physician to establish which medical practitioner was negligent in their duty of care and responsible for the foreign object being left inside you. Your solicitor would them send them a Letter of Claim, informing the medical practitioner that claims for a foreign object left in a patient were being made against them, providing them with a copy of the evidence that had been collected and inviting them to make an offer of settlement.

As there is little defence against a compensation claim for a foreign object left in a patient, it is likely that your claim will be settled quickly and fully without the need for court action. However, you need to be wary of any approach made directly to you by the medical practitioner´s medical insurance company with an offer of compensation for a foreign object left inside a patient. These offers are usually in the insurance company´s interests and, once you accept an offer of compensation for a foreign object left inside a patient, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more if it proves to be inadequate.

Ideally, you should speak with a medical negligence at the first practical opportunity. Although you have two years from the date on which you discovered a foreign object had been left inside your body, it may take a considerable period of time to identify the correct medical practitioner and to establish the injuries you have sustained due to their negligence.