Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department Negligence
Accident and Emergency claims (A&E claims) occur when a health care practitioner at an Accident and Emergency Department incorrectly diagnoses or treats a patient, resulting in further damage.
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What is Emergency Department Negligence?
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 Department 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
- 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.
How do I make a Medical Negligence Claim?
Consult a Medical Negligence Claim Solicitor
It is advisable for you to speak to an experienced Medical Negligence claim Solicitors to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe that you were not provided with an adequate or appropriate level of medical care under the care of a medical professional, which resulted in you sustaining an injury or illness due to any acts or omissions by a medical professional.
Obtain medical records
In order for the medical negligence claims to have merit, it must be proven that the injury or illness you have sustained was caused by the negligence of the medical practitioner/professional who provided your medical treatment and care.
After the consultation with your medical negligence solicitor, your solicitor will request access to your medical records and engage an independent medical expert to assess your records. The purpose of engaging in an independent expert is to establish whether there was any negligence on the part of the medical professional, and whether or not the medical professional’s negligence was the cause of your injury and illness. This independent third party will also be able to determine, in his opinion, whether the injury or illness sustained was avoidable or not, if the appropriate level of medical care had been provided.
Depending on the complexity of the injury or condition, it is oftentimes necessary to get two separate experts; one to determine the liability of the medical professional, and another to determine whether the negligence caused the injury (causation).
Medical Negligence Litigation
In the case where the independent medical expert has established that medical negligence did occur, upon your instructions your solicitor will commence the process of issuing legal proceedings in Court against the medical professional and/or hospital with a view to securing compensation for you either by way of Court Judgment, or settlement.
The person who has been injured as a result of negligence is called the ‘plaintiff’. The medical professional/hospital or other professional against whom the allegations are made is called the ‘Defendant’.
The process is as follows:
A letter of claim will be sent to the Defendant(s) setting out the allegations and injuries sustained by you. This letter invites the Defendant(s) to admit liability to you and to compensate you for the injuries sustained. If no meaningful response is received on foot of this correspondence, a personal injuries summons will be drafted by a barrister nominated by your solicitor setting out the particulars of negligence and breach of duty, and particulars of the injuries sustained. The personal injuries summons will set out the reliefs claimed by the plaintiff, which will include compensation for pain and suffering (known as General Damages), compensation for additional losses suffered; for example any expenses incurred by you as a result of the injury such as medical expenses, loss of earnings, care costs needs etc. (Known as special Damages).
The personal injuries proceedings will be issued in Court and litigation will thereby be initiated.
Depending on the complexity of the particular case, the litigation process can oftentimes take a minimum of two years to reach Hearing before a Court. This does not mean to say that the Defendant(s) will not seek to settle a claim prior to the Hearing of the action. However, it can be a lengthy process and oftentimes involves a lengthy discovery process whereby medical records and other relevant documentation is exchanged between the parties, an element of the process known as ‘Discovery’.
Your solicitor will advise you throughout the entire process, ensuring your best interests are met, and that you achieve the best outcome available in your particular case.
How We Can Help ?
Pursuing a medical negligence claim in Ireland can be daunting, especially if you are still recovering. Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors in Dublin and nationwide can advise you of all legal remedies available to you at this stressful time. By easing as much of the stress associated with medical negligence claims as possible, our aim is to help you through the trauma of your experience with empathy and understanding.
If you have sustained an injury or contracted an illness due to a situation involving medical negligence and have questions surrounding an incident, please contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors today at Coleman Legal.
Coleman Legal can help you find out if you are eligible for compensation. If you are eligible for compensation, we will fight for you while you recover, ensuring your best interests are met and that you receive the best settlement or Court Award that is fair to you in the entirety of the circumstances.
*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.
About Coleman Legal
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We are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for you and take pleasure in our sensitive approach.
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