OBM

Medical Negligence

Hospital Negligence Claims

When you're in the hospital, you expect to be treated with care and dignity. The last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your treatment was appropriate. But what if it wasn't? What if you were injured during a procedure because of negligence? What are your rights?

The answer depends on a number of factors, including:

  • the type of injury.
  • the cause of the injury.
  • the severity of the injury.
  • whether or not you have any pre-existing conditions that may have contributed to or caused the injury.

For the most part, Ireland has a good healthcare system and often the injuries people sustain are unavoidable and not the result of hospital negligence. Generally, medical professionals operate in a dedicated and diligent manner, all while keeping the patient’s best interests at heart.

However, unfortunately sometimes mistakes are avoidable and they do happen. It’s been reported that the state has paid out over 2.4 billion in medical negligence and hospital accident cases since 2003.

If something went wrong with your treatment, we can help you find answers. Whether you were not told what happened; you do not believe what you were told; you feel that your questions or concerns were dismissed; or you simply do not understand what happened, we can help. Hospital negligence can cause serious or catastrophic injuries, having a profound effect on your quality of life, and you deserve to be compensated for any harm caused to you and your loved ones. Reach out to one of our specialist solicitors for confidential legal advice to discuss your hospital negligence claim.

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What is hospital negligence?

Hospital negligence occurs when a healthcare professional or hospital employee fails to act appropriately and causes harm to the patient. The failure could be intentional or unintentional, but either way it results in an injury that could have been avoided if proper care had been taken by the staff member(s). 

It can be very distressing for patients to even contemplate that their suffering has been caused at the hands of the medical professionals they entrusted with their care. As specialists in hospital negligence, we understand this. Our expert solicitors have dealt with many of these cases over the years and we are here to support clients who are going through this process with the respect and empathy they deserve.

What are the types of hospital negligence?

You should know that there are several different types of hospital negligence, including: 

  • Surgical errors
  • Clinical errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Medication errors
  • Mental health errors
  • Elder abuse

There are many ways in which a hospital or doctor can be negligent. These include:

  • Lack of or incorrect medical records.
  • Lack of or incorrect training for staff members.
  • Inadequate resources for the number of patients treated by the hospital.
  • Failure to follow protocols set by the Health Standards Executive (HSE).
  • Failure to diagnose a condition or disease (such as cancer).
  • Use of faulty equipment (such as during an operation).
  • Mishandling of medical records or drugs and medications.
  • Failing to properly diagnose a condition.
  • Failing to provide proper treatment for a condition.
  • Providing inadequate medical equipment, such as surgical instruments or anesthesia machines.
  • Failing to monitor patients after surgery.
  • Delaying treatment until it's too late.  
  • Failing to follow protocols during surgery or other procedures (like administering blood transfusions).

How to claim for hospital negligence?

The law has very specific requirements when making a claim for hospital negligence. Medical negligence claims are governed by the test set out in the case of Dunne v The National Maternity Hospital (1989). This law provides that a practitioner is only guilty of negligence in diagnosis and/or treatment, if he/she was guilty of such failure, as no other medical practitioner of equal specialist or general status or skill would be guilty of if acting with ordinary care.

To make a claim for hospital negligence in front of the court, you must prove two things:

  • That the practitioner deviated from an accepted medical practice, and;
  • That the course taken was one that no other medical practitioner of like specialisation and skill would have followed, had he been taking the ordinary care required from a person of his qualification.

If you decide to pursue your claim after consulting with one of our hospital negligence specialists we will take the following steps to get things in motion:

  • We will ask you for a detailed statement outlining the medical treatment you received and why you believe it was negligent.
  • We will collect and review your medical notes.
  • We will obtain an expert opinion on whether the treatment you received was negligent.
  • If the expert we consult with agrees that the treatment you received was negligent, we will begin hospital negligence proceedings,

    It’s important to note that in order to commence to Step 4, your treatment or diagnosis must be confirmed as negligent by a suitably experienced medical expert. This is a prerequisite in all medical negligence cases in Ireland. This expert opinion does not guarantee that you will win the case, but it does get you over a very important hurdle so that you can get your case to court.

    How much time do you have to make a claim?

    The Statute of Limitations for bringing a medical negligence claim is two years, minus one day, from the date of knowledge of the negligent treatment or care. In some cases, the position is clear, for example the amputation of the wrong limb. In most cases, however, the position is far more complex. This is because a patient may not have knowledge of any potential medical negligence for years after their treatment. Cancer misdiagnosis cases are a good example of this, where a patient may not even know they are sick for years after they were misdiagnosed. 

    If you do know that you have been ill and received medical treatment and left with a personal injury as a result of that treatment, and if there is no doubt about what happened or when it happened, then time on the two-year statute of limitations begins to run from that date. If there is any ambiguity about what led to your injury or whether it was due to medical negligence, then time won't start running until you have sufficient evidence to show that your injury was caused by negligence.

    With this in mind, we always recommend that you pursue your claim for hospital negligence compensation within two years of the negligent treatment. However, it is important to know that this area is not clear cut and it may still be possible to issue your claim after this period. This is why it’s essential to have an in-depth consultation with our hospital negligence solicitors to access your case. Contact us at OBM today to speak with an experienced hospital negligence specialist for an honest assessment of your case.