Compensation for Errors During Operations

How do I know if I am entitled to claim compensation for errors during operations?

In order to be entitled to claim compensation for errors during operations you must have sustained a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to an error within a surgical procedure which “on the balance of probabilities” could have been avoided if greater care had been taken by the surgical team performing the operation.

Not every mistake make during a medical procedure will develop into an injury as some will be identified and corrected at the time. Other errors made during an operation may never have an adverse effect on the patient which qualifies them to claim surgical negligence compensation and some courses of action which result in an injury will be unavoidable “in the circumstances” if a more serious health issue was developing at the time.

What this means to most people is that a mistake has to have been made during an operation – due to carelessness, a lack of skill or the inability to display that skill – which resulted in a quantifiable injury. Examples of such negligence would include:-

  • Surgery conducted on the wrong part of the body
  • Using non-sterilised medical equipment which cause an infection
  • Anaesthesia errors leading to anaesthetic awareness during surgery
  • Medical items left inside a patient which damage an organ or cause haemorrhaging
  • A cut or pierced organ which required revision surgery at a later date to repair the injury

In order to find out whether you are entitled to claim compensation for errors during surgery, you should speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor. The solicitor would ask you to tell them the procedure you were undergoing, what errors you believed were made during the operation and the injury you sustained.

The solicitor would also want to know if you have received any medical explanation about how or why the mistake happened and whether you have yet made an official complaint to the hospital at which you underwent the procedure.

If your solicitor believes you have a claim for operation errors which is worth your while to pursue, he or she will obtain your relevant medical notes and have them reviewed by an independent expert. You may also have to undergo to ascertain the extent and severity of your injury. If the medical expert can support a claim for operation errors, your solicitor will then send a “Letter of Claim” to the hospital or private medical facility at which you had the operation, advising them that you wish to claim compensation for errors during operations.

The hospital or medical facility is likely to conduct their own investigation and either acknowledge or deny their liability for your injury. If liability is acknowledged, your solicitor will calculate how much compensation for errors during operations you are entitled to and arrange for you to receive your full entitlement of compensation. If liability is denied, your solicitor will advise you whether you have a sufficiently strong case to claim surgical negligence compensation through the courts.

Court action is not always necessary when liability is denied as – depending on the circumstances of your injury due to a mistake in an operation – the hospital may still be prepared to settle your claim for operation errors out-of-court without an admission of liability. However, before you start considering what future actions may be most appropriate in the circumstances, you should speak with a solicitor to establish that you have a viable claim for compensation for errors during operations.



This is an Information site only – if you feel you have a potential claim, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor registered with the Law Society of Ireland.