Medical negligence is an often misinterpreted term used for charging medical professionals. This blog hopes to diffuse the misconceptions regarding the practice (or malpractice) and guide you on how to claim medical negligence.
So, what is medical negligence exactly? It is when healthcare professionals, ranging from lab technicians to all forms of doctors and even pharmacists, neglect or falsely carry out their duty of duly and unbiased caring for their patients. Other similar terms such as medical malpractice and clinical negligence are also used to define the same phenomenon.
However, this term is not as loose-ended as it sounds. Claiming for medical negligence is often misinterpreted as taking legal action against your doctor or caregiver if you deem they have neglected their duties towards you. It is actually more complex than that.
To claim for medical negligence, you need to first run through all the legal standards and double-check to see if any negligence has actually occurred. This process requires the claimant to bring evidence and prove that any other healthcare server would have chosen a different route for the specific treatment under the same conditions which would have prevented any loss or injury from taking place. What this means is if the injury could have happened regardless of the actions of the practitioner and that they did their best, taking the most probable decisions, yet ended up with loss or injury, the practitioner will not be charged with malpractice. Hence, it won’t be proven medical negligence.
It is also very important to note that you should initiate your claim as soon as possible. Legally, a claimant has a two years window to file for their claim starting from the day they become aware of their injury incurred, which can be the day they receive the wrong treatment or years after that.
So, What Is The Process Of Claiming Medical Negligence?
First of all, it is important to understand that there are two different processes for claiming medical negligence in Ireland. One process applies when the patient has been injured by medical care in an acute setting such as Accident and Emergency, a hospital, or a doctor’s surgery. And, the second process applies where the injury occurred in a long-term setting such as a nursing home, rehabilitation center, daycare unit, etc.
For starters, going to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) might not be the best first step. PIAB will decline any application for assessment of medical negligence compensation because of the case’s and claim’s complicated. Hence, these cases are generally dealt with by legal actions in court.
But before you go to court directly, there are some specific steps you should take to make going to court proceedings eventful. Below is the advice step by step:
First, check with legal officials and get legal advice before filing your case.
Don’t stop there, go and take expert reports and get full access to your medical records.
Carefully evaluate and critique your claim.
Finally, get the court date and go to course proceedings.
If you duly follow the above steps, you’ll be able to file a strong case of medical negligence in court and take necessary legal actions. Here’s a breakdown of the above steps:
1. Legal Advice And How To’s
Seeking legal advice from medical negligence solicitors in Ireland is the topmost requirement before you go and claim for medical negligence. It is highly recommended that you check where your claim stands before you go to file an official complaint.
2. Compile The Necessary Medical Records And Get Advice From Other Practitioners
After you have hired a prosecutor, they will need to collect and gather all your past medical records and then show them to relevant medical experts and get their opinion. These experts will decide whether there was any negligence in the case, that is, they will study whether they would’ve done the same if it were them giving the treatment. Their opinion and green signal will be the basis on which you’ll be able to file your claim.
3. Evaluating The Claim Of The Claimant
The foundation of most, if not all, claims regarding medical negligence asks for compensation. In this step, you evaluate the damage done and calculate the exact cost you need to be compensated.
Here, you have to include the cost you had to pay to date for the damage done and the cost that will arise due to maintaining or treating this damage in the future. Your legal advisor will have to form reports by talking to experts and provide documents that assess the value of your claim.
4. Finalizing Things In Court
After you have completed all the preceding steps and you have formed a strong case to sue for medical negligence, head to court. Explaining all the small details, file your court paper stating your claim with the help of an expert medical negligence solicitor.
As court proceedings start, you have to be prepared as they may last years, at best months. This could be avoided if the medical practitioner offers a settlement to settle the case.
One Thing To Look Out For
A drawback lurking in the shadows that lie within claiming for medical negligence is the Patient Safety Bill passed in 2018. This law requires medical practitioners to disclose all the “serious re portable patient safety incidents, notification of re portable incidents, clinical audit,”[1 which, if not complied, will otherwise threaten a legal penalty on the practitioner. This bill, however, limits any claimant from pursuing their claims as they have already received warnings about possible outcomes of the treatment. Albeit this bill is aimed to encourage open disclosure, it still takes away the right of justice from the claimant’s hands. Hence, make sure to take proper legal advice on how to proceed past this bill and make a case without any loopholes.