The Health and Safety Executive prefers not to disclose the number of surgical error claims for compensation that are made each year in Ireland, and it is only when we read about them in the newspapers that we find out the sort of surgical errors that are made due to a lack of care in Irish hospitals. Whether the error is made in pre-operative planning, while undergoing a surgical procedure or during post-operative care, it is most likely to be extremely serious and sometimes does not come to light until much later in life.
Pre-operative planning is a very important area of the surgical operation, as it is at this time that procedures are discussed and communication between medical practitioners and the patient must be at its clearest. Mix-ups between which patients are having which surgical procedure performed, and the wrong part of the body being operated on are not unheard of and lead to some of the most substantial surgical error claims for compensation.
The surgery itself is where poor pre-operative planning may come to light, but a surgeon performing an operation may also be negligent in his duty of care to the patient. There are many instances of mistakes made during surgery which were completely avoidable and which led to a serious long term health issue in a patient or even death. Surgical tools and implements have also been known to be left in patients after an operation, and these may not be discovered for many years – if at all.
Although usually not so common, but equally dangerous, are mistakes that are made in post-operative procedures. The introduction of excessive antibiotics or painkillers can have an adverse effect on a patient’s recovery, and mistakes made in treating surgical wounds can lead to haemorrhaging around the area which was operated on – particularly in operations which have been performed using laparoscopic or “keyhole” procedures where the area of surgery is not so apparent.
Whenever a patient requires a surgical procedure, they will be informed about any risks associated with having an operation, but they cannot be expected to anticipate surgical errors. Surgical patients place their trust in the surgeon and medical team supporting him, and reasonably believe that they are competent, experienced and prudent. Where this is not the case, or a surgical error is made which results in an injury, you are entitled to make a surgical error claim for compensation.
Making Surgical Error Claims for Compensation
Surgical error claims for compensation rely on a certain amount of medical opinion – even when something as obvious as having a healthy kidney removed has occurred – to determine how the error could have been made and who is ultimately responsible. Even though the surgeon who performed the operation physically removed the incorrect organ, he may have been guided there by a colleague or by an error in the pre-operative planning. Therefore, the Injuries Board Ireland decline to make an assessment of your surgical error claim for compensation and your case will be presented to the courts.
Because of the nature of injuries that can be sustained due to a lack of care during a surgical procedure, compensation awards for surgical error claims are amongst the biggest in the country. Consequently, making surgical error claims for compensation is best done with a specialised personal injury claims solicitor who has experience in cases of medical negligence. An experienced solicitor will know the best medical expert to support both your surgical error claim for compensation and your solicitor´s arguments in court and will guide you through the procedures required to construct the strongest surgical error claim for compensation possible.
Frequently, once a strong surgical error claim for compensation has been established, medical insurance companies – representing the negligent medical practitioner(s) – or the Health and Safety Executive are keen to make an early offer of settlement to reduce their future court costs. They may also try to save money by making an offer of compensation for your surgical error claim which is wholly inappropriate. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on what represents a fair and adequate amount of compensation for the physical injury you have suffered and also the psychological trauma you have experienced.
Awards for Surgical Error Claims for Compensation
Awards for surgical error claims for compensation can vary widely depending on the type of error that was made and the subsequent effect it has had on your health. In 2009, the HSE paid out almost fifty million euros in surgical error claims for compensation – nearly half of all the accepted assessments processed by the Injuries Board Ireland – and that figure is expected to increase in 2010. This statistic does not include compensation payments made by medical insurance companies or private out of court settlements. An experienced specialised personal injury claims solicitor would be able to advise you on the “value” of the latest awards for surgical error awards.
If you have been the victim of a surgical error, and would like to find out more about the procedures for making a surgical error claim and the likely award of compensation you may receive, you are invited to contact our free advice service. Our service will enable you to speak with an experienced solicitor in total confidentiality, discuss your surgical error claim for compensation and receive practical and helpful advice. There is no obligation on you to proceed with a claim once you have spoken with us, and no pressure will be placed on you to do so.
Our free advice service can be contacted by telephone on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or by completing the call-back form, indicating when would be a suitable time for us to call.
Please note although we are happy to offer advice and provide information in all surgical error claims for compensation, we would request that you do not contact our free advice line if you have already engaged a solicitor, as it is unethical for us to provide second opinions. Thank you.