A medical accident is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence in hospitals. Recent reports claim that there are in excess of five thousand recorded incidents involving medical treatment every year, and more than eight thousand more involving incorrect amounts of medication in Ireland. These medical accidents are not necessarily attributable to the person who has made an incorrect incision or administered an excessive amount of antibiotics. The whole medical process in an Irish hospital includes technicians, administrators and support staff, and a medical accident could be caused by a misfiling of paperwork, an incorrect procedure during the test of a sample, or even poor handwriting.
When a medical accident happens to you or a loved one, it can be a very complex procedure to claim compensation for the physical trauma that is experienced. It has to be proven that the medical accident occurred due to a lack of skill by a medical practitioner or a member of their support staff in a situation where the treatment that was subsequently administered could have been avoided. So, even when it is obvious that you or a loved one are the victim of a medical accident, the responsibility for the accident has to be determined before a claim for compensation can be filed.
Compensation Procedures after a Medical Accident
Claims for compensation after a medical accident have to be processed through the court system, as medical accidents are regarded by the Injuries Board Ireland as clinical negligence. As this means that cases are determined by medical opinion rather than physical evidence, the Injuries Board Ireland will not make an assessment in the case of a medical accident. A solicitor will be required to compile a case on your behalf to include all the consequences of your medical accident as well as compensating for the physical and psychological trauma you have suffered.
The solicitor will write to any medical practitioner who could have been involved in your treatment when you suffered your medical accident to advise them that you intend making a claim for medical accident compensation and requesting that they submit any case notes to him to be used as evidence. Included in the letter will be an invitation to agree a settlement without the necessity of presenting the case in court. In cases when the causes of the medical accident are clear and liability is not in dispute, this can sometimes lead to a fast and acceptable award of compensation.
As part of the compensation procedure after a medical accident, a solicitor will engage the services of a medical expert to make an independent examination of your injuries, and confirm that the medical accident was due to negligence and that it was avoidable. Provided that he can demonstrate that there was an alternative course of action that could have been taken at the time – and in the circumstances of your medical accident – his report and his evidence will be used in court to support your solicitor´s arguments and ensure that you receive an appropriate award of compensation.
Time Limits for Compensation Claims
The law is quite clear about the time limit you have in which to claim compensation for a medical accident – allowing you two years from the “date of knowledge” that it took place. The reason for their being a “date of knowledge” is that not all medical accidents are immediately evident. In some instances medical equipment has been left inside a patient for many years before being discovered. Although it still has to be proven that the negligence involved actually caused an injury, you would have two years from the date of its discovery in which to make a claim for medical accident compensation.
When Your Child has Suffered a Medical Accident
Children are quite frequently the victims of medical accidents. Sometimes this is due to misdiagnosis on arrival at an accident and emergency department – most commonly concerning cases of appendicitis and meningitis. However, even more serious medical accidents can occur during childbirth, with babies being starved of oxygen during the delivery procedure and suffering permanent brain damage or even death. When your child has suffered a medical accident, they are equally entitled to claim compensation and have two years from when they reach the age of majority in which to do so. A child can make a claim for medical accident compensation before then, but they have to be represented by a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend”.
Further Information about a Medical Accident
Being the victim of a medical accident is often a painful and unnecessary experience. If an injury has been caused during a medical procedure, it may well take further medical procedures to repair the damage and create financial pressure on a family while the victim spends longer recovering and rehabilitating. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a medical accident and would like to know more about your entitlement to claim compensation, you are invited to contact our free medical accident advice service. This service enables you to discuss your claim for medical accident compensation with an experienced solicitor and receive some practical and helpful advice.
The number to call is 1800 989 995, and our lines are open seven days a week from 8.00am to 10.00pm. You are under no obligation to proceed with a claim for medical accident compensation once you have spoken with one of our solicitors and all calls to our free medical accident advice service are treated with the utmost confidentiality. We also have a call-back service, so if now is not a convenient time to speak with us, please complete your contact details in the call-back form at the foot of the page and one of our team will be in touch.