Surgical Negligence

Expert insight for surgical negligence claims

At Gibson & Associates LLP, we provide specialist support for surgical negligence claims. Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors can provide you with specialist advice about your situation, whether you have suffered surgical negligence in a hospital, clinic, GP surgery or other healthcare environment. Find out more about making a surgical negligence claim now.

What is surgical negligence?

When it comes to having surgery, we put our faith in healthcare professionals to provide us with the very best outcome. Even the most minor procedures can be worrying for patients and we trust our doctors to have the knowledge and skills to carry out surgery according to the standards expected of a competent physician.

In very rare cases, this standard of care is not met and errors in surgery can lead to devastating outcomes for the patient, leading to complications, prolonged recovery periods and in some cases, long-term consequences.

Mistakes that are made during surgery can cause damage to nerves, excessive blood loss, punctured organs, infections, and even result in surgical instruments being left inside the body.

What causes surgical negligence?

There are a number of factors that might contribute to mistakes and errors during surgery.

Inadequate staffing levels can put pressure on resources and compromise patient care, while extreme fatigue from long hours of work can impair a physician’s judgment and performance. Sometimes, doctors may lack the training and skills needed to deal with complications during surgery, especially in the absence of adequate supervision.

Communication breakdowns among members of the healthcare team can lead to misunderstandings and errors in patient management, while failing to follow standard procedures, such as sterilising surgical instruments, can lead to complications and post-operative infections.

What to know about informed consent

In Ireland, informed consent is a crucial aspect of healthcare, particularly in the context of surgical procedures. Before undergoing surgery, patients are provided with comprehensive information by their physician regarding the nature of the surgery, potential risks and complications, and expected outcomes.

This ensures that patients have a clear understanding of what to expect and can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the surgery. When a patient agrees to have surgery after going through this process, it is considered informed consent.

In contrast, implied consent is not explicitly given by the patient and often occurs in urgent situations, such as during surgery when immediate action is required.

The physician may choose to proceed with a course of action based on the patient’s best interests, presuming the patient would likely give their consent if they had the opportunity.

Failure to obtain informed consent from a patient before performing a surgical procedure can be considered a form of surgical negligence. Informed consent is a fundamental principle of medical ethics and legal practice, ensuring that patients have the right to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Examples of surgical negligence

Surgical negligence can happen in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, GP surgeries, dental surgeries and clinics, during procedures such as:

  1. Heart surgery: Surgical mistakes during heart procedures, such as performing the wrong operation or damaging nearby organs, can lead to serious complications like infections or bleeding.
  2. Brain surgery: Errors in brain surgery, such as inaccuracies in instrument placement or damaging critical structures, can cause lasting neurological issues.
  3. Orthopaedic surgery: Mistakes in orthopaedic procedures, such as fitting the implant in the wrong place or damaging nerves, can hinder a patient’s recovery and potentially their mobility.
  4. Cosmetic surgery: Negligence in cosmetic procedures, such as excessive scarring or nerve damage, can result from inadequate pre- or post-operative care.
  5. Abdominal surgery: Organ damage or failure to address internal bleeding can lead to complications such as infections or hernias during abdominal surgery.
  6. Spinal surgery: Mistakes during spinal procedures can cause chronic pain, mobility and neurological issues.
  7. Ophthalmic surgery: Corneal damage or infections can result from inadequate surgical techniques and hygiene issues.
  8. Gynaecological surgery: Negligence in gynaecological procedures, like organ damage or failure to diagnose complications, can lead to infertility, excessive blood loss, or infections.
  9. Dental surgery: Nerve damage or improper implant placement can lead to chronic pain, infections and further complications.

How to Make a Surgical Negligence Claim

To make a claim for surgical negligence, it must be proven the treating physician failed in their duty of care. Additionally, it must be proven that this breach of duty resulted in an injury or worsening of your medical condition that could have been avoided had the surgery been performed to the expected standard.

Gathering evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, scans, and test results, is essential. In some cases, obtaining an expert medical opinion may also be necessary to strengthen your case.

Our experienced medical negligence solicitors will provide you with comprehensive support to obtain the documents and other evidence you need to submit your claim.

About Gibson & Associates LLP

Empathy and expertise for your surgical negligence case

Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors offers specialist insight into surgical negligence and understands the profound impact medical errors can have on your quality of life.

If you have been affected by surgical negligence, you could be eligible to make a claim for financial compensation. While you might feel that making a claim could be stressful, our team will work hard to relieve your anxiety and manage the process on your behalf, making it as straightforward as possible.

As one of Ireland’s leading law firms, we take pride in giving you the legal support and empathy you need to get through this difficult time. For a confidential discussion about your surgical negligence case, please call us today on 01 264 5555.

FAQ's for medical negligence claims

Is there a time limit on making a claim?

Legal proceedings must be commenced within two years of the date of knowledge of the injury, subject to certain exceptions. In a lawsuit, the ‘date of knowledge’ refers to the date on which the plaintiff knew or ought to have known that he or she had suffered an injury.

An important exception is in the case of persons under the age of 18, who are described in law as minors or infants. For minors, the Statute of Limitations ‘clock’ does not begin until a child reaches their eighteenth birthday. For more information see Child Injury Claims.

What if I wasn’t informed about the risks of my surgery?

Patients must give informed consent before undergoing surgery. The physician is required to provide sufficient information about the surgery, including the risks, possible side effects and complications, and also the expected benefits of the procedure.

If the doctor doesn’t provide the patient with this information, and complications arise during surgery, this could be grounds for an informed consent surgical negligence claim.

An exception may be if the patient is unable to provide consent, such as in an urgent situation during surgery, and a surgeon proceeds with a course of treatment based on implied consent.

However, if the doctor makes an avoidable mistake during surgery, you may have grounds for making a surgical negligence claim.

How do I access my medical records?

A copy of your medical records can be requested from the hospital, clinic, or medical professional that treated you under the Freedom of Information Act. Alternatively, we can arrange to obtain a copy of your records on your behalf; to do so, you will need to sign an authority form that gives us permission to obtain your records.