Medical Negligence is when a healthcare professional has failed to act in accordance with a practice accepted in Ireland as proper by a responsible body of skilled medical practitioners. With respect to any personal injury claim, the injury sustained must result from the negligence of someone who had a duty of care towards you at the time and in the circumstances of the accident. It is quite apparent that a Doctor does indeed owe a duty of care to their patient.
Proving that a doctor has acted negligently in their treatment of a patient is a complex task and it should be noted that the law only provides the opportunity for you to make a medical negligence claim if it can be shown on the balance of probability that the treatment you received was carried out in a negligent fashion by the healthcare professionals involved and that this directly caused or contributed to your injury.
It is important to remember that a Court will consider if a competent physician would have acted in the same manner as the defendant doctor. Therefore, even where the doctor’s actions have caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s personal injury, their actions may not be deemed negligent if it can be shown that they were the ‘reasonable’ actions of a medical professional given the information the doctor had and the specific circumstances.
The first issue to be considered when pursuing any personal injury claim, be it due to medical negligence or otherwise, is that it is in fact just that, a personal injury claim. The plaintiff must have sustained some form of injury (physical or psychological) as a consequence of the medical negligence. A near miss – other than where it can be proven to have caused, for example, a severe psychological trauma – is not sufficient to justify compensation being awarded.
More often than not, the date you became aware that you have been injured will be the date on which the injury was sustained. Except for several specific exceptions, the opportunity to make a compensation claim will be lost precisely two years after the date of knowledge.
In summary therefore:
- Proving medical negligence claims is a complex task and the injuries must result from the negligence of somebody who had a duty of care towards you.
- Liability for medical negligence claims may not be immediately apparent, as many people can be involved in patient care.
- Medical negligence claims take many factors into account, including the pain suffered due to the medical error, any psychological trauma, damage to the quality of life and other financial implications.
- A Court will determine medical negligence claims on the opinion of an expert physician who will testify whether they would have acted in the same way given identical circumstances.
- The value of medical negligence claims can be affected by your own contributory negligence and previous medical history.
- Factors such as the Statute of Limitations can also affect medical negligence claims.