Medical Negligence Claims in Ireland

Medical negligence is a complex issue that has been the subject of much discussion and debate in recent years. The term refers to situations where a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner, provides care that falls below the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. In Dublin, as in many other parts of the world, medical negligence claims have become increasingly common in recent years. In this blog post, we will explore the current scenario of medical negligence claims in Dublin.

To begin with, it is important to note that the healthcare system in Ireland, like many other countries, is under pressure. The country has an aging population, and the demand for healthcare services is increasing. This has led to a situation where medical professionals are often overworked, and mistakes can happen. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has put additional strain on the healthcare system, with many medical professionals working long hours under challenging conditions.

The result of this pressure on the healthcare system is that there has been an increase in the number of medical negligence claims in Dublin. According to a report by the State Claims Agency, which manages claims against public bodies, the number of medical negligence claims in Ireland increased by 12% in 2020. This increase is largely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a backlog of cases.

In Dublin, the situation is similar. The State Claims Agency reports that in 2020, the number of medical negligence claims against hospitals and health service providers in Dublin increased by 10% compared to the previous year. This means that medical negligence claims are becoming more common in the city.

One of the key factors driving this increase in medical negligence claims is the growing awareness among patients of their rights. Patients are more informed than ever before about their healthcare rights, and they are increasingly willing to take legal action if they feel that they have been the victim of medical negligence. This has led to a situation where medical professionals are facing a greater level of scrutiny and accountability.

Another factor contributing to the increase in medical negligence claims in Dublin is the rise of litigation funding. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of companies that provide funding for medical negligence claims. These companies typically take a percentage of any compensation awarded to the patient in return for funding the legal case. This has made it easier for patients to pursue medical negligence claims, as they do not need to have the financial resources to pay for legal fees upfront.

What are the grounds for a medical negligence claim?

To establish a claim for medical negligence, the following grounds must be met:

  1. Duty of care: The healthcare professional must have had a duty of care to the patient. This means that they were responsible for providing care that met a certain standard.
  2. Breach of duty: The healthcare professional must have breached their duty of care by providing care that fell below the standard expected of them. This could be due to an error in judgment, a mistake in diagnosis, or a failure to follow proper medical procedures.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty must have caused or contributed to the patient’s harm or injury. The harm or injury must have been a direct result of the healthcare professional’s breach of duty.
  4. Damages: The patient must have suffered harm or injury as a result of the breach of duty. This could include physical harm, psychological harm, or financial losses.

In addition to these four grounds, it is also necessary to show that the healthcare professional had a duty to warn the patient of any risks associated with the treatment, and that the patient was not adequately warned of those risks.

It is important to note that establishing a medical negligence claim can be complex and challenging. It requires a thorough understanding of medical procedures and the legal system. Patients who believe they have been the victim of medical negligence should seek the advice from  qualified medical negligence lawyers  who can guide them through the process of making a claim.

What are the damages that can be claimed in a medical negligence case?

 

When a patient is successful in a medical negligence claim, they may be entitled to a range of damages, which can be categorized as either general damages or special damages.

General damages are those that are not easily quantifiable and are awarded for the pain and suffering caused by the medical negligence. These may include:

  1. Physical pain and suffering
  2. Psychological pain and suffering
  3. Loss of enjoyment of life
  4. Disfigurement
  5. Loss of amenity

Special damages are those that are quantifiable and are awarded for the financial losses suffered as a result of the medical negligence. These may include:

  1. Medical expenses: This may include the cost of any medical treatment, medication, rehabilitation, or long-term care that the patient requires as a result of the medical negligence.
  2. Loss of income: If the patient has been unable to work as a result of the medical negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for the income they have lost and the income they will lose in the future.
  3. Property damage: If the medical negligence caused damage to the patient’s property, such as a prosthetic device, the patient may be entitled to compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property.
  4. Travel expenses: If the patient has had to travel for medical treatment as a result of the medical negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for the cost of travel.
  5. Other expenses: This may include any other expenses that the patient has incurred as a result of the medical negligence, such as home modifications or child care expenses.

It is important to note that the amount of damages awarded in a medical negligence case will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. It is also worth noting that there may be a limit on the amount of damages that can be claimed in some cases, depending on the jurisdiction and the type of damages being claimed. A qualified medical negligence lawyer can advise on the specific damages that may be claimed in a given case.

 

In conclusion, medical negligence claims are becoming more common in Dublin, as they are in many other parts of the world. The pressure on the healthcare system, combined with greater awareness among patients of their rights, is driving this trend. Medical professionals must be vigilant in providing high-quality care to their patients, and the legal system must be ready to provide redress to patients who have been the victim of medical negligence. As Dublin continues to grow and develop, it is likely that the number of medical negligence claims will continue to rise, making it more important than ever for healthcare providers to take steps to prevent medical errors and to ensure that patients receive the care that they deserve.

(*) In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with Reg.8 of SI 518 of 2002.