Professional negligence arises when professionals deal with their services negligently resulting in a loss by the client/patient. Professionals, such as solicitors, accountants, architects, engineers, doctors and so on, have a duty of care towards their clients who rely on their advice and expertise. If you have suffered a loss as a result of their negligence you may be entitled to compensation.
Areas of Professional Negligence
Depending on the service your loss could range from a solicitor delaying in the exchange of contracts or failing to issue proceedings within appropriate time limits, an engineer failing to identify property defects, an architect who incorrectly designed a building, an auctioneer who over-valued your property or annual reports completed incorrectly by an accountant. When professionals fail to exercise their expertise don’t suffer the consequences of their actions.
Today I will focus on a particular area of professional negligence – Medical Negligence.
Healthcare Professional’s Duty of Care
Every healthcare professional owes a duty of care to their patients. This not only applies to surgeons, doctors, nurses and midwives but also extends to other medical professionals such as dentists, opticians, audiologists and psychiatrists. If you, or a family member, have suffered injury while receiving medical care you may be entitled to take a claim for compensation for medical negligence.
Medical negligence is a rapidly expanding area of litigation in Ireland. Medical Negligence is essentially an act or omission by a health care professional which is below the accepted standard of care and which results in injury or death to a patient. The gospel case on medical negligence is Dunne v.NationalMaternityHospital 1989 where Finlay C.J. established the test for medical negligence.
Medical negligence can happen because of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis; errors in the medical treatment such as incorrect medication, surgical errors, exposure to infection (MRSAetc) or failure to inform the patient of the risks of the treatment of procedure.
Proving Medical Negligence
There are four main elements in proving medical negligence. First of all, is a legal duty of care owed by a health care provider or hospital undertakes in treating a patient? Secondly, has a breach of that duty of care occurred and has the health care provider in question failed to follow the relevant standard of care? Thirdly, did the breach of duty cause injury? The final step in proving medical negligence is that there must be damage resulting from the negligence. Regardless of whether or not the health care provider was negligent, there is no basis for a claim in negligence without damage; be it monetary, physical or emotional.
Establishing a Cause of Action
Medical negligence claims, in a similar way to personal injury claims, are made up of a series of hurdles. If you do not clear the first hurdle you cannot move on to the next. To establish a case in medical negligence we need to take certain steps. We take up copies of all medical records and check them. In some cases we may even send them to a medical records expert for analysis. Medical experts specialising in the particular area of medicine involved will then be asked to consider whether or not the treatment received was negligent or sub-standard and if so the extent of the damage it caused. If we consider that we have enough evidence to prove a case of medical negligence, then we advise starting court proceedings immediately. Clinical negligence cases can be settled by negotiation without the need to proceed to a full trial but they are rarely resolved without starting court action.
A Claim in Medical Negligence
Have you or a family member suffered injury due to the actions or inactions of a medical professional? Talk to us as you may be entitled to compensation. You will be able to discuss the facts of your situation, in detail, with a member of our medical negligence team. As experts in the area of medical negligence litigation, we will assess your complaint and assist you in reaching a decision on whether to make the claim or at the very least investigating it further.