Did you know that the first 5 months of 2019, €108 million has been paid out in medical negligence in Ireland? It’s a worrying statistic. And it’s claimed to be driven by current pressures put onto medical care by staff shortages, funding, hospital overcrowding and general working conditions. Of these payouts, more than half of these were related to medical negligence in childbirth.
In the US medical error is the third leading cause of death after heart attacks and cancer. It is a growing concern that we could follow suit in Ireland.
What is Medical Negligence
Medical negligence is referred to as an action or lack of proper standard of care by a health professional that causes unnecessary pain, suffering, distress to a patient. Sometimes, there can be a fine line between what is considered medical negligence and what possibly is an unfortunate result from a medical treatment. So, there could be many factors looked at to determine if there was a medical error. Here are a few of the most commonly occurring medical negligence incident types:
Birth Injuries: these can, unfortunately, result in life changing implications for the child, birth injury claims cases tend to have high compensation amounts awarded, to help with the care of the affected child.
Misdiagnoses: especially cancer misdiagnosis, and consequent delays in treatment.
Surgery error: such as a result of a cosmetic procedure gone wrong.
Medication error: this could be a failure to prescribe a required medication, such as an antibiotic for a life threatening infection, or simply prescribing the wrong mediation that results in a serious injury the patient.
As soon as you suspect an error may have occurred, you should request to speak another medical professional, especially a doctor if available. It’s important to prioritise your health in this situation, especially to limit any damage, the other doctor should take immediate action to correct any errors or mistakes that have been made.
What actions should you take:
The most important action you can take to prove medical negligence is to request your medical records. These records will include your medical history, list of mediations, any tests carried out and a recording of symptoms, this is highly important in cases of medication errors and misdiagnosis.
This information alone may be enough to prove a medical malpractice; especially if the opinion of another medical professional is sought, and they verify that the care was substandard, or that the injury in question as a result of that care/or lack of care.
Photographs of the injury could provide useful if you’re in a situation where it’s possible to take a photograph of the injury. A common example of this would be a cosmetic procedure that has gone wrong. You should also take personal notes i.e a description of the injury, dates and times, names of those involved, hospital or clinic location etc.
Maybe you had close family or friends that witnessed the negligence event, for example, you may have been given medical results that misdiagnosed a condition. Or maybe, it’s you that has witnessed medical negligence to your family, an example of this occurrence could be in a nursing home where you noticed careless mishandling of the patient; read more about nursing home neglect here.
How to help prove negligence incident?
There must be evidence that a doctor/patient relationship existed, this can be verified in the form of medical receipts for treatment. You should always keep prescription receipts, in case you have to prove a medication error.
If you know other people that have been injured by the same clinic or practitioner, this can make your case against them much stronger and easier to prove. The media is a good place to check for other cases or complaints against the clinic, or medical practitioner.
Reporting medical negligence:
There are various health and social regulatory bodies that promote a high standard of care and will investigate any reports of misconduct.
A complaint against a medical professional should be brought to the attention of the relevant regulatory body. So, let’s just say that you want to make a complaint about a doctor, you would report the incident to the Medical Council, a guide on how to make a complaint can be found on their website.
Now, you have a complaint made and medical reports to back your claim up, what next? If you are injured and it’s due to the actions of someone else, you are entitled to seek compensation, now is a good time to consultant a Medical Negligence Solicitor.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.”