You or your loved one may face a problem of surgery negligence. Surgery has many categories including but not limited to heart surgery, plastic surgery, cosmetic surgery, and other types of operations. Is there any law in Ireland that protects patients against any form of medical negligence?
Let’s find out!
According to the State Claims Agency, each year more than 5,000 surgical negligence cases are reported in the public healthcare sector. The numbers could be higher if the private sector tallied the numbers as well and if all medical negligence cases were disclosed.
What is Surgical Negligence?
All surgeons are expected to perform all surgeries following a laid-out protocol by the governing bodies. If surgeons don’t depict a certain degree of care to the patients, in the event of any harm, the surgeons are at fault.
Surgical negligence occurs when surgeons make medical mistakes during an operation causing harm or damage to an existing condition.
Types of surgery
Now that we know the situation in Ireland, let’s look at some of the most common types of surgeries.
a) Surgery by body part
These types of surgeries are categorized depending on the part they are performed. For example, cardiac surgery is performed on the heart and contributes the highest number of negligence claims. You can also have gastrointestinal surgery performed on the digestive tract or orthopaedic surgery performed on the bones and muscles.
b) Based on urgency
There are some operations that are elective and which the victims decide and also psychologically prepared. However, some surgeries are urgent with no time to explain to the patient the risks involved.
c) Surgery based on location
Some surgeries are performed in-patient while others happen in an outpatient facility. Most negligence claims are raised from the inpatient facilities because such operations are said to involve more risk. However, the setting and safety of the outpatient facilities has often been neglected leading to cases of negligence.
d) Surgery based on purpose
Surgical operation is performed for different reasons. For example, transplantation surgery is meant to place a body part from the donor to the recipient. A cosmetic surgery is meant to improve certain parts of the body while a therapeutic surgery is performed to treat a previously diagnosed condition.
Situations in which Surgical Negligence Happens
Negligence can occur at different stages either before, during, or after surgery. Let’s discuss each of these situations.
The pre-operative procedure involves a lot of preparation. It is at this stage that the patient is diagnosed, tested, and informed about the decision to undergo a surgery. Scans and x-rays are taken to determine the cause of the problem. The patient is also involved in talks about the problem, need for surgery, and potential risks that can emanate from the operation.
Surgical negligence may occur if the doctors misdiagnose the problem, or an error occurs when identifying the area of surgery. Negligence may also arise when discussing the risks involved and request for consent from the patient. The mental capacity of the patient should be analysed before allowing them to consent to surgery. For example, minors, the elderly, or patients with dementia cannot decide for themselves.
Negligence may also arise on the day of surgery during anaesthesia procedure. You can either have a general anaesthesia or partly on the part to be operated. Doctors may at times use more than required medicine during this step. On the other hand, the anaesthesia medicine may be used in lower than recommended quantities and the patient may wake up before the surgery is complete. Worse still, the patient could have an allergic reaction to the medicine used for anaesthesia.
The surgical procedure can involve different activities. For example, some patients may require bone connections, transplant of organs, and drainage of fluids, insertions, or even stapling. Here are different ways surgical errors can happen.
– Failure to observe the recommended procedure or protocol
– Inexperienced professionals failing to seek help from the experts
– Infections from contamination of the operation areas
– Excessive blood loss without the expert’s intervention
– Nerve damage and blood vessels
– Leaving surgical instruments in the patient’s body
– Wrong site surgery or even operating on the wrong patient
– Not having adequate surgical instruments during the procedure
– Failure to abandon the surgery if need be
When the surgical procedures are complete, the patient is taken to a recovery ward or discharged depending on their condition after surgery. Usually, the patient is taken off ventilation and the surgery site inspected for any signs of infection.
Here are the areas negligence may occur in the post-surgery phase.
– Failure to adequately control pain
– Improper monitoring after operation
– Development of pulmonary embolism due to improper monitoring
– Clogging of drains due to negligence
– Not following with the patient’s progress after surgery
Carelessness by surgeons and nurses before, during, and after surgery may lead to life threatening conditions. Some patients may develop heart failure, traumatic stress disorders, chronic disabilities, organ damage, and reconstructive surgeries.
Why does Surgical Negligence Occur?
There are so many reasons why negligent surgery in general happens. We highlight some of the reasons here.
– Fatigued surgeons and nurses
– Incompetent/inexperienced surgeons
– Lack of adequate tools
– Inadequate personnel
– Poor planning of procedures
– Poor interpretation of x-rays and scans
Can you Sue a Surgeon for Negligence?
The first thing before you even sue a surgeon is to get into contact with medical negligence solicitors. The negligence solicitors will look at your case and determine whether you even have a solid case against the medical professional who performed the surgery on you or your loved one.
The laws in Ireland prohibit suing any medical professional on claims of negligence without a proper report supporting the claims. The medical negligence solicitors will obtain consent to collect all your medical records from private, public hospitals, and all medical professionals that have been involved in treating you.
With a keen analysis of all the medical records and facts, the medical negligence solicitor will determine whether to sue the medical professional or hospital for malpractice. The medico-legal professional together with the solicitors will have to establish causation and liability against the medical practitioner.
With all the facts, your solicitor will then draft a proceeding which they will present to the High Court. After this, the medical practitioner involved will then be served by your solicitors with a surgical negligence case to answer.
After this, the legal team may decide to enter into negotiations with the plaintiff to try and settle the claims out of court. Alternatively, the legal firm you hire may decide to put up a full-fledged legal fight in the courts and in the presence of a judge. In this scenario, the judge will listen to evidence from the solicitors often presented by medico-legal witnesses. The other party will also defend themselves with proof that they didn’t cause any error during the surgery. The judge will then rule in favour or against depending on how sufficiently the legal team can proof causation and liability due to medical negligence.
When is Medical Treatment Negligent?
An error in medical treatment is only proven if the claimant can show liability and causation on the part of the medical practitioner.
In the 1991 case of Dunne v. the National Maternity Hospital, Ireland provided a guideline on how to determine liability. You have to sufficiently show that the professional failed to use their expertise during a medical procedure which led to an error.
Proof of liability is not enough to warrant surgery compensation from the defendant. You also have to show that because the professional offered sub-standard services, it led to direct harm.
Can I be Found Partly to Blame for Surgical/ Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence claims don’t have to go through without proper defence from the defendant. If the medical practitioner can prove that you were partly or wholly to blame for the damage, then you could lose your negligence claims case.
Here are some of the ways you could contribute to medical accidents after a surgery.
– Failure to show up for follow up medical appointments
– Failure to take all medicines prescribed after the surgery
– Consumption of drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes
How much time do I have to bring my Claim?
The Irish statute of limitations dictates that you only have two years to make a claim since you last suffered the damage, or two years from the “date of knowledge” that you became aware that you were treated negligently. Within this time, you’ll have somewhat recovered and found enough strength to proceed with a legal proceeding.
2 years may seem like such a long time, but remember, a legal proceeding could take more time before it’s ruled. Therefore, we urge our clients to file for negligence claims as soon as they realize that a surgical procedure may have caused damage or worsened a pre-existing condition.
What Value Can I Claim for Surgical Negligence
Medical accidents in surgery are considered wholly avoidable because all surgeons work within a stipulated guideline for all procedures. When it comes to making negligent surgery claims, we cannot have a surgery compensation claim that fits all.
If you are wondering how much compensation you can get from a surgery negligence claim, our firm will first analyse your unique circumstances before even deciding whether to proceed with the claims. Ideally, we will look at the type of error that occurred, and the effect it had on your wellbeing.
The value you receive as compensation largely depends on the following factors.
– Financial losses due to the impact of the error
– Persistence of pain and discomfort
– The type of error and underlying issues
– Effect on the quality of life
Where Can I Find Surgery Negligence Solicitors?
We understand that finding medical negligence solicitors in Ireland can be challenging. With us, you’re assured of our expertise handling surgery negligence claims for over 25 years. We will listen to your grievances keenly and advise whether to proceed depending on whether you have a valid case.
If we are sure that the case is solid, we will handle everything on your behalf from the sourcing of medical records, we will also gather evidence and serve the defendant. Allow us to handle your surgery negligence claims while you focus on getting full recovery, family, and businesses.
Are you suffering excessive pain or conditions after your surgery but aren’t sure whether it’s a case surgical error? Call us today and we will investigate matters on your behalf!
Our law firm boasts a lot of experience dealing with surgical negligence injury claims. We follow a thorough examination process of the circumstances surrounding your specific injury before proceeding with your case. Together, we examine your chances of mounting a successful legal claim, secure the expert evidence that will be required to fully investigate and establish grounds for your claim, and guide you through the entire processes that are involved in filing an orthopaedic injury compensation claim.
Call us today with any questions you might have, and our team will be ready to answer.
Call us today 01903 6250 for any professional financial negligence claims in Ireland.