Accident and Emergency Department Negligence*
Studies have shown that Emergency Departments are the birthplace of many medical negligence claims and that many of these claims relate to misdiagnosis.
Emergency medicine is responsible for nearly 15% of all medical negligence claims. A&E departments are high-turnover, fast-paced hospital departments which diagnose and treat patients with some of the most catastrophic injuries. Patients also visit with symptoms which may appear to be non-life threatening, and patients are reliant on the skill, knowledge and thoroughness of hospital staff to ensure they are treated to the best possible standards
The Law for medical negligence* in Ireland is complicated and is governed by the test set out in the Supreme Court case of Dunne V The National Maternity Hospital (1989). This case provided that:
- a medical practitioner was negligent in diagnosis of treatment only if he was guilty of such failure as no other medical practitioner of equal specialist or general status or skill will be guilty of if acting with ordinary care;
- a Plaintiff will establish negligence against a medical practitioner by proving his deviation from a general and approved practice only upon proving also that the course taken was one that no other medical practitioner of like specialisation and skill would have followed when taking the ordinary care required from a person of his qualifications.
Examples of Accident and Emergency Negligence
These can arise in situations where an Accident and Emergency patient is admitted to A&E, and there is:
- failure to treat a patient properly, and failure to diagnose the problem;
- failure to recognize the patient’s illness or injury, and failure to refer to a senior or specialist doctor;
- failure to check a patient’s medical history properly;
- failure to carry out basic investigations and X-Ray/MRI scans;
- wrongful or premature discharge from hospital.
The time limits in medical negligence claims can be extremely prohibitive, and your legal claim must be commenced within two years from when the incident occurred or when you first became aware or had knowledge, that you have suffered an injury. It is very advisable to get the advice that you need as soon as you become aware of a medical difficulty or injury as a result of medical or surgical treatment or a medical or surgical procedure.
What to do next in respect of an Accident and Emergency Negligence Claim in Ireland
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.