Medical Negligence in Ireland: Our guides

Medical negligence is a serious issue in Ireland. In 2013, the Irish government set up the Expert Panel on Medical Negligence to review the country’s medical malpractice system. The Expert Panel released a report in 2015 that made recommendations for reform. However, the government has not yet acted on these recommendations.

Medical negligence can have devastating consequences for patients and their families. Victims may be left with physical and emotional injuries that require long-term care.

Definition and meaning:

Medical negligence is when a doctor, nurse or other medical professional fails to provide an appropriate standard of care to their patient, which leads to them suffering an injury or illness. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as not diagnosing a condition correctly, prescribing the wrong medication or carrying out the wrong procedure. If you believe you have suffered from medical negligence, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

What are medical negligence claims?

Medical negligence claims are a form of personal injury claim that involves ongoing treatment. For example, there would be medical negligence in cases where the patient should have had an operation but it was delayed due to the surgeon missing appointments or failing to make them at all.

In contrast, someone who has suffered a one-off injury – such as being involved in a traffic accident – will not have grounds for bringing a case for medical negligence although they may still be able to bring a claim under the normal personal injury rules.

What involves medical negligence?

Medical negligence involves a long series of actions that may eventually lead to a devastating result such as:

• Inadequate diagnosis

• Prescribing the wrong medication

• Over-prescription of drugs or pain killers

• Wrong surgery or organ removal, which results in severe disability or even death.

• Wrong treatment (like incorrect usage of a machine)

• Unprofessional behavior towards the patient, such as rudeness and inappropriate gestures.

• Lack of care or attention in general (for example, a doctor that does not notice a patient who is refusing food), etc.

What are the stages of a medical negligence claim?

After a medical negligence incident has occurred, it is required to get the help of medical negligence solicitors. They will guide you through different stages as follows:

• Claim Form and Statement of claim:

The claimant must first contact Medical Negligence Solicitors who must fill up a claim form that contains basic details about the patient (such as name, address, date of birth, or age).

Then they should also submit the statement on why their client believes that he/she was harmed due to medical treatment. It may include all information from the process until today.

• Discharge Summary:

If patients have undergone surgery or had any sort of operation done by doctors then they are provided with a discharge summary so that they can make a better decision for themselves.

• Statement of Defense:

Normally, the doctors or surgeons give a response to the claim form and statement of claim within 14 days. If they disagree on any point from the client’s side, they will reply back to them by giving their own statement.

The solicitors will prepare all necessary documents required within weeks so that they could serve them during the trial period. When all sides are ready with their statements of defense then trial begins.

• Expert Witness Testimony:

During the process of hearing testimony, both parties decide whether an expert witness should be called upon or not; if not then that particular side must agree to pay for the other party’s witnesses’ fees and expenses.

• Verdict:

After hearing all the expert witness testimonies and evidence then both parties present their points in front of a judge or jury. The verdict is given after listening to it carefully by the legal counsels from either side. If the plaintiff wins, he/she will get proper compensation for his injuries and suffering as well as repairing his/her physical facilities such as vision loss due to wrong surgery performed on them. On the other hand, if the defendant wins then the claimant must pay him off for any expenses that he has done while defending himself during trial period.

• Appeal Process:

If anyone thinks that they have not heard an appropriate verdict from a court regarding medical negligence case, then they have every right to appeal their case. Mediation is a process where both parties sit together to resolve the issues and come up with a just verdict that will help them move forward and get over this unfortunate event.

• Compensation:

After winning your case, then you are entitled to receive compensation for all damages or losses including emotional distress, loss of earnings/income, pain suffering, disablement, etc.

Medical Negligence Acts in Ireland:

The medical negligence act of 2005 was enacted to assist medical practitioners to perform their professional duty more efficiently and safely. In the medical industry, medical negligence is considered an offense; medical practitioners are responsible for every aspect that causes the loss to patients. Any medical practitioner who is found guilty of medical negligence has to face strict punishments from the law. The medical system of Ireland is divided into the public and private sectors; these two sectors have been expanding day by day with the increasing number of people who avail of medical services. A survey conducted in 2013-14 showed that around 82% of persons were satisfied with their medical treatment while only 18% had some issues. However, there are still certain factors that make citizens go through inadequate medical service at some points.Medical negligence law covers personal injury owing to the negligence of a medical professional. This type of negligence can come from a nurse, doctor or other medical organization or professional.

What kinds of circumstances give rise to medical negligence?

Medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care, and if they fail in this duty by making mistakes during treatment that results in harm then they can be held liable for damages.

There are a number of circumstances that can give rise to a medical negligence claim including:

-Doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer on a yearly basis.

-The wrong operation is being performed or the wrong diagnosis made.

-Failure to carry out sufficient checks before carrying out surgery and in fact, operating on the wrong patient (which happened more commonly prior to the invention of DNA testing).

-Inadequate aftercare or supervision of patients.

-Inadequate treatment (for example, the incorrect dose of medication being administered).

-Improper sterilization procedures.

-An error with regards to record-keeping impacts upon a diagnosis being made or the provision of adequate post-operative care for example.

-Delay in administering life-saving surgical procedures on an emergency patient due to long waiting lists at A&E departments and understaffing.

Who can claim compensation for negligence?

To bring a claim for medical negligence, you must have suffered personal injury as a direct consequence of your doctor’s wrongdoing and/or his/her breach of duty. You must also be able to demonstrate that it is likely that the doctor’s wrongdoing/breach of duty caused your injury.

What is medical misdiagnosis?

A misdiagnosis occurs where a doctor fails to make the correct diagnosis, for example by missing signs of a condition or not ordering appropriate tests. In some cases, this can be down to human error – for instance if your GP does not notice that you have been getting consistently high blood pressure when you see him/her every month. In other cases, there could be a failure to investigate further or refer on for example in the case of cancer – perhaps the symptoms were simply not recognized.

Some other examples of misdiagnosis include:

-Where a patient who is suffering from chest pain is diagnosed with heartburn and not the heart attack that he/she actually has.

-Misdiagnosing lung cancer on the basis of a misreading or misunderstanding of results.

-Diagnosing appendicitis when in fact, the sufferer has a condition known as irritable bowel syndrome which can present with similar symptoms.

-A woman is being treated for depression but is actually suffering from postnatal depression (this is quite common).

What are the common medical negligence cases in Ireland?

Various medical conditions can give rise to a claim for compensation for personal injury, including:

-Brain injuries sustained as a result of a head injury or stroke.

-Breast cancer following early detection that is missed resulting in it spreading and becoming incurable.

-Cerebral palsy arising out of an infant being given the wrong dose of medication by doctors when they were born.

-Recurrent miscarriages (three or more) where there has been an insufficient investigation and/or treatment of underlying conditions such as fibroid that are causing them.

-Bone cancer is being missed and therefore not picked up in time.

What are the grounds for making a claim?

To successfully bring a claim you must prove that there was negligence by your doctor or medical professional, which led to damages being suffered by you. You will also be required to show that there is an identifiable link between the negligence and your damages (that is, if you have suffered financial loss as a result of the injury). In order to make a successful claim, you must first report any accident/incident to your GP within three months of it having happened. If your injuries were caused by another person’s wrongdoing then this process can take up to twelve months from when the incident occurred in some cases.

Medical negligence claims

There are many possible ways through which medical negligence can occur.

  • Misdiagnosis: Failure to diagnose a patient properly
  • Birth injury claims: Complications to a mother and/or baby during childbirth
  • Wrong prescription: Failure to prescribe appropriate medications
  • Surgical mistakes: Mistakes made during the application of anesthesia or in the usage of medical equipment
  • Timing issues with treatment: Failure to provide affected and timely treatment

Time frame –How long do I have to take a case?

The statute of limitation is the time limit set for medical negligence claims. The claim must be brought within 2 years from the day of injury or two years from the date of knowledge.

But the limit is inapplicable in a couple of cases listed below:

  • Children: If your child suffers from medical negligence, there is an exception. You can make a claim anytime before they turn 18. After your child turns 18, the general rule applies. Hence a claim must reach the court before they turn 21.
  • Mental ability: The victim must have the ability to make a claim for themselves.
  • Knowledge. If the injury is only discovered sometime later (i.e: after the two-year period, the statute of limitations only starts to run from that date of knowledge).

How to find the solicitor you need?

Many surf the internet and visit the websites of the law firms to find the best medical negligence solicitors in Ireland. This is standard in today’s world  however we strongly recommend you have a no-obligation consultation with the firms you intend to potentially use either by phone or in-person to ensure they have the requisite expertise to take your claim

We pride ourselves on having:

  • Knowledge: Precise knowledge of medical negligence law that is crucial to winning any case.
  • Past experience: Solicitors with experience and success in this field.

Is it necessary to consult with a solicitor while claiming medical negligence?

The answer is yes, you must consult with a solicitor before filing a medical negligence claim in Ireland. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on your case and whether or not it is likely to succeed. He/she will also be able to assist you in the process of making a formal complaint about your doctor’s conduct and liaising with their insurance company.

In conclusion, it can be said that there are various ways to minimize the risk of medical negligence. It is important for patients to remember that they have a right to be treated with proper care and attention by their physician, as well as making sure that they themselves are up-to-date with appointments and follow-up treatment plans. Taking into consideration the above factors will go some way towards improving patient health and reducing the chances of negligence occurring in an Irish hospital or clinic.

If you are unsure about taking legal action against your doctor for medical negligence but want advice as to what might happen if you do decide to take that course of action, go ahead and contact us today through our website.

Should I contact a medical negligence lawyer for my issue?

It is always suggested to contact a medical negligence lawyer for your issue if you have been harmed due to medical treatment.

A judge or jury will definitely give you justice but it is not easy to pursue the case on your own without any support from legal counsel. A good solicitor can help you figure out all details and prepare necessary documents that are required during court hearings so that they may make an effective trial. The process of obtaining compensation after such mishaps is much easier when you use the services of these lawyers as they know how to shape up a strong case against them with solid evidence.

A good solicitor should be able to defend you in court as well as get compensation for all losses and damages.

How to find out a good medical negligence solicitor in Dublin?

Finding a good solicitor or law firm is not difficult. The best way is to ask for recommendations from close friends, family members, and colleagues who have experienced something like this before or someone who has used the services of a medical negligence lawyer in Ireland recently.

There are certain things you must consider before hiring one:

• Experience / Background:

It is very important that you should choose a medical negligence lawyer who has a successful career history with several years of experience in this field so that he/she can handle your case effectively with proper knowledge.

The information provided on their website including their past achievements will give you the idea of whether they will be able to solve all legal issues properly or not!

They must have years of experience with plenty of case study records and ideas regarding your issue that will help them win your case. If their solution does not seem helpful or effective then they should just inform you about that fact without any hesitation.

• Surf on the internet :

There are plenty of law firms that provide their services online. You can find a solicitor by visiting the websites of various law firms and search for medical negligence lawyers in Dublin on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other popular search engine to view the portfolio.

It will be really helpful if you can check out some testimonials regarding their career history so that you can understand more regarding how they operate in court as well as whether they have won cases like yours in the past or not! If possible read reviews & testimonials from previous clients which will also give you a fair idea about what kind of lawyers they are.

• Reviews:

The best way to judge a good firm is to get recommendations from family members, colleagues, and friends that have used their services before. If they are satisfied with the solution then you can start thinking about hiring them for your case but if they do not provide proper evidence or offer unsatisfactory results, then it might be better to look for another law firm.

• Office Location:

Another very important thing is to ask yourself whether you want a solicitor who is located in your city/country or overseas?

It may be more beneficial as most experienced solicitors and law firms will prefer dealing with clients from their city which will also help them gather solid details regarding the incident much easily rather than those who live in other countries where it may not be easy to get information about witnesses and other related persons and companies.

How we can help you?

We are a team of professional lawyers in Dublin-Ireland. Our solicitors have extensive experience in handling various kinds of medical negligence cases. You can contact our medical negligence solicitors in Dublin regarding your legal requirements.

Our Process:

Once you fill-up the online form with detailed information about your case, we will get in touch with you within 24 hours so that we can discuss your issue properly before our lawyers take over the case from there to prepare a solid case study as well as winning strategies to win the court hearing against those hospitals or doctors.

Information provided by our clients is strictly confidential and will be used only for purposes of finding out ways for presenting your case better during hearings or meetings with your solicitor.