Claims for medical malpractice are one of the most complex procedures in Irish law. But this should not stop you contacting a solicitor if you believe that you may have been the victim of medical malpractice.
It is estimated that as many as 160,000 Irish citizens experience some form of medical malpractice every year and although many instances may be so slight that they go unnoticed, some can have such severe consequences that they result in long term health issues and even death.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice
In a successful claim for medical malpractice, your solicitor must demonstrate to the court that you have suffered an injury due to the lack of care by a medical practitioner and have that argument supported by an experienced physician. Not only must your injury have been sustained due to medical malpractice, but there must also have been alternative courses of action that the defending medical practitioner could have taken which would have prevented you from suffering an injury or causing the deterioration of an existing condition.
With so many potential cases of medical malpractice, it is impossible to list every conceivable situation under which medical malpractice may have taken place. However, the three most common allegations of medical malpractice are:
Error or Failure in Diagnosis
Together, these two diagnosis issues account for more than 40% of all medical malpractice complaints and are frequently the most serious. When a medical practitioner fails to correctly diagnose a condition that you have consulted him about, he may start to treat you for an altogether different complaint whilst the original condition deteriorates even further.
Failure to Perform Procedure
When you experience a delay in undergoing surgery or have any treatment administered without due cause, this also constitutes medical malpractice. If your medical practitioner has failed in his duty to perform a procedure, prescribe medicine or conduct a test within an acceptable amount of time – and you suffer an injury or deterioration in a condition because of his negligence – you are entitled to claim compensation for medical malpractice.
Incorrectly Performed Procedure
This area of medical malpractice not only covers surgery where the medical practitioner has made an error in his duty of care – for example, creating health complications due to his lack of skill or failure to demonstrate it – but could also apply to a dentist who removes a tooth unnecessarily or a chiropractor who damages your spine through his manipulation rather than heals the affected area.
There are many other areas of medical malpractice that would entitle you to claim compensation including hospital acquired diseases, the transmission of contaminated blood and the issue of incorrect prescriptions. In all cases it has to be proven that the medical physician you claim to be responsible for your injury or deterioration in your condition acted negligently and in a situation where other courses of action could or should have been taken.
Complications with Claiming for Medical Malpractice
Even though you may have suffered from medical malpractice, it is not always clear who is liable for your injuries.
If a medical physician has misdiagnosed an illness it is clearly his responsibility that you have suffered a physical trauma, but when you have sustained an injury through an incorrectly performed procedure whilst in an operating theatre, any number of surgeons could have made the error. The same complication can arise if you have acquired an MRSA infection after surgery. How can you determine who was responsible for the lack of hygiene and medical malpractice that led to you contracting the disease?
Even though these issues are surmountable, there could also be other complications. For example, if you have contributed to your condition by not attending health check-ups, failing to take the prescribed medicines or not giving full disclosure to your medical practitioner at a time when he was diagnosing your illness, it may be claimed that there was no medical malpractice at all, or you may find that any award of compensation is substantially reduced due to your own lack of care.
A further complication with claiming for medical malpractice is the time you have available in which to make you claim. Under the Statute of Limitations, you are only permitted two years from the date on which you discovered that you had been the victim of malpractice in which to bring your case to court (Claims for medical malpractice are not processed by the Injuries Board Ireland). Although this may seem like plenty of time for a case to be compiled, medical experts will be required to confirm that you have suffered from medical malpractice and determine who was liable in cases where one of a number of medical practitioners may have been responsible.
Medical Malpractice Solicitors
As soon as you believe that you may have been a victim of medical malpractice, it is in your best interests to contact a specialised personal injury claims solicitor familiar with claims of this nature. To enable you to find out more about what constitutes medical malpractice, what complications can arise when you claim compensation for medical malpractice and to discuss your own circumstances with an experienced solicitor, we have established a free telephone advice service which you are welcome to call.
If you or a member of your family has suffered from medical malpractice, our solicitor will be able to provide helpful and practical advice for the steps that you can take – in total confidentiality. We may also be able to offer accurate information about the value of a claim for medical malpractice which is relevant to your circumstances and without any obligation on you to proceed with a claim for medical malpractice compensation.
The number for you to call is and our helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We also operate a call-back service for your convenience, so if now is not a suitable time for you to speak with us, please complete your contact details in the call-back box on the side, and one of our team will get back in touch with you.