Medical Negligence Claims Ireland
Medical negligence claims in Ireland have to demonstrate that you or a loved one suffered a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to the negligence of a medical practitioner who owed you a duty of care. Because claims for medical negligence compensation in Ireland are resolved by medical opinion rather than tangible fact, you are unable to apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment of your claim and instead should seek professional legal advice from an experienced solicitor on our Free Help Line. All calls are treated with complete confidentiality and there is no obligation on you to proceed with a medical negligence claim for compensation once you have spoken with us.
Posted: June 11th, 2016
Dublin’s High Court have held a hearing for the claim of a woman who underwent allegedly necessary surgery after medics failed to diagnose her breast cancer.
Eileen Fennessy – aged sixty-nine from Pilttown in Co. Kilkenny – attended the nationwide “Breast Check” screening programme on the 25th November 2011. However, the retired schoolteacher alleges that the mammogram taken on that date was not correctly read, resulting in the failure to diagnose her breast cancer.
A year after the initial mammogram, Eileen attended her GP, who identified a large mass in her breast. Eileen was referred to the Waterford Regional Hospital for an ultrasound. A biopsy later confirmed that Eileen had a grade two carcinoma.
As soon as the correct diagnosis was made, Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy. Regrettably, this did not have the desired effect and in April 2013 Eileen had a mastectomy. After her recovery, Eileen sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation.
In the claim, Eileen alleges that both the chemotherapy and the mastectomy would not have been necessary had the staff at the screening programme made a correct diagnosis in 2011. The claims as made against the Health Service Executives, who oversee the Breast Check initiative.
As the HSE denied that they were liable for Eileen’s injuries, the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin, where it was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Eileen’s barrister argued that the initial mammogram taken in 2011 should have warranted further tests. The failure to proceed with diagnostic tests put Eileen in danger, as her cancer could have worsened.
Eileen’s legal team also told the judge that, whilst she is currently in remission, her prognosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The case continues.
Posted: August 11th, 2014
A High Court judge has given the green light for a Cork woman to proceed with her Deltacortril adverse reaction claim for compensation against the manufacturers of the drug and the two doctors who prescribed it for her.
Forty-three year old Lorna Savage from Cobh in County Cork was granted the go-ahead to proceed with her Deltacortril adverse reaction claim after a “pretrial” hearing at the High Court in which the manufacturer of the steroid drug – Pfizer – had applied for the case to be thrown out on the grounds of the delay between the claim being made and the case coming to court.
Hearing the application at the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham was told how Lorna had started taking the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 when it was prescribed to her to treat her skin vasculitis condition – a disorder in which damaged blood vessels cause an irritable rash.
Judge Birmingham heard that within a few years of taking Deltacortril, Lorna had developed Avascular Necrosis – a rare but established adverse reaction to Deltacortril, which prevents the passage of blood to the bones and causes the bone tissue to die – ultimately resulting in the bone collapsing completely.
By the age of 31 (in 2001), Lorna had undergone knee and hip replacement surgery, and the Avascular Necrosis has spread to such an extent that she is now confined to a wheelchair and has to manage the ongoing pain of the disease with morphine.
Lorna made a Deltacortril adverse reaction claim for compensation against the estate of GP Dr. Michael Madigan (who died in 1999) and her consultant doctor at the Cork University Hospital – Dr. MG Molloy. She also included in her claim for an adverse reaction to Deltacortril the manufacturer of the drug – Pfizer.
In her claim against the two doctors, Lorna alleged that they had both failed to fully investigate her skin condition, had negligently prescribed Deltacortril when they were fully aware of the risks, and – in the case against Dr Molloy – alleged that he had acted negligently by failing to recognise the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis.
Lorna claimed that Pfizer were also liable for her injuries due to failing to provide information in the literature accompanying the Deltacortril tablets that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and by failing to issue a warning that people taking the tablets should not consume alcohol.
The estate of Dr Madigan, the HSE (of behalf of Dr Molloy and the Cork University Hospital) and Pfizer each denied liability in Lorna´s Deltacortril adverse reaction claim and, in a pretrial motion, Pfizer applied to have Lorna´s claim thrown out on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim to court.
However, after hearing that Lorna had recently undergone several more operations which had prevented her from instructing her solicitors, Mr Justice George Birmingham ruled that the delay was “excusable” and dismissed the application – saying that the case would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.
Posted: September 18th, 2013
A senior consultant has claimed that more doctors will reduce cerebral palsy cases in Ireland and has called on the Health Service Executive to address the problem.
Dr Sam Coulter-Smith – Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin – made the claim while addressing a conference organised to hear from the medical profession, solicitors and families who have suffered the consequences of cerebral palsy on how cerebral palsy cases in Ireland could be reduced.
Delegates heard that the number of babies suffering cerebral palsy injuries each year had remained unchanged for the past twenty years despite technological advances leading to more accurate foetal monitoring and more deliveries being performed by Caesarean section.
He felt that a significant number of cerebral palsy cases in Ireland could be avoided if experienced senior doctors were available twenty-four hours a day, and not just “on call” after their contracted hours of 8.00pm – when they could be many miles away when a medical emergency occurs.
Dr Coulter-Smith said that decisions relating to the health of a mother and baby were being left to junior doctors when consultants were not immediately available and “there needs to be twenty-four hour cover of labour wards by senior doctors to address this problem.”
The doctor continued by explaining the situation at his own hospital where a second tier of experienced junior doctors had been formed to provide emergency cover when a consultant was not available. He admitted that the establishment of a second level was contrary to the advice given by the Health Service Executive to reduce the number of medical staff working at the hospital, but informed the conference that the State currently spends €45 million annually on compensation for cerebral palsy cases in Ireland – a figure equivalent to the Rotunda Hospital´s operating budget for an entire year.
Posted: August 16th, 2013
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has published a report in which it finds that the majority of claims for GP negligence are made due to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
The report – “The Epidemiology of Malpractice Claims in Primary Care: A Systematic Review” was published recently in the British Medical Journal after the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin had studied more than 7,000 claims for GP negligence and negligence by other front-line health practitioners around the world.
The objective of the report was to establish which areas of primary care in Ireland should receive special attention when it came to developing educational strategies and risk management mechanisms for GPs and front-line healthcare practitioners – for example doctors working in accident and emergency departments.
The key findings of the report were:-
- Compensation claims for a misdiagnosis or for a delayed diagnosis were the most common reasons for claims for GP negligence in Ireland
- The errors most frequently cited in missed diagnosis claims for GP negligence were cancer and heart attacks for adults and meningitis for children
- The annual prevalence of claims for GP negligence for missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis appears to be on the increase
The head researcher for the report – Dr Emma Wallace – admitted that reviewing claims for GP negligence may not have been a suitable substitute for accurately identifying “adverse effects” in primary care, but did point out that because of the fear of litigation GPs and front-line healthcare professionals were practising more defensively.
She found that more patients are being referred by GPs more often to consultants – potentially delaying an accurate diagnosis – because of the growing number of compensation claims for GP negligence, and that medical practitioners, against whom claims are made, are often subject to increased levels of stress which reduces their effectiveness to make an accurate diagnosis and places patients at a higher risk of suffering an avoidable deterioration of an existing condition.
Dr Wallace said that the issues identified in the report should provide an insight into the nature of adverse events in GP´s surgeries and hospital outpatients´ departments and, with better educational strategies and risk management mechanisms, subsequently reduce the number of claims for GP negligence and improve the standard of healthcare provided by front-line health practitioners.
Posted: August 20th, 2012
A woman, who was starved of oxygen at birth and has suffered a lifetime of learning difficulties, has had a settlement of compensation for her badly managed birth approved at London´s Royal Courts of Justice.
Susanne Turner (45) from Wittersham in Kent was born at Buchanan Street Hospital in St Leonards-on-Sea after a delayed Caesarean operation due to neither a surgeon nor an anaesthetist being available to carry out the operation the procedure. Due to this, Susanne was deprived of oxygen in the womb, not able to breathe on her own when she was born and suffered severe brain damage.
Susanne´s parents – Christopher and Sandra – raised Susanne without any help or assistance, and unaware that they were entitled to claim compensation for the badly managed managed birth, until they read a magazine article which explained Susanne´s rights to compensation.
When they looked for legal advice about their situation, Christopher and Sandra discovered that – as Susanne did not have the mental capacity to bring a claim for mismanaged birth compensation herself – they were still within the time frame allowed to sue the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority for the negligent situation which had occurred in 1967.
After reviewing the claim for badly managed birth compensation, South East Coast Strategic Health Authority quickly admitted their liability for Susanne´s birth injury and, at the Royal Courts of Justice, issued an official apology for the mismanagement of Susanne´s birth.
Approving the settlement of compensation for badly managed birth, which will take the form of annual payments and a lump sum payment to pay for a specially-adapted home for Susanne, judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies paid tribute to Christopher and Sandra´s “love and devotion”. The settlement is estimated to be worth 4.2 million pounds and will provide Susanne with the adequate care she needs for the rest of her life.
Posted: June 21st, 2012
A court in Pasadena, California, has awarded a woman who grew up with an avoidable heart condition due to “baffling” post-natal surgery one million dollars in heart surgery negligence compensation.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, was born in the Huntingdon Hospital in May 1979 with a heart defect. An operation the day after her birth was intended to repair the septal wall which separated the left and right chambers of the heart; however the Los Angeles County Superior Court heard that during the operation the vena cava artery – the artery which carries de-oxygenised blood to the heart – was connected to the wrong side of the septal wall and, as a consequence, the flow of blood was directed into the heart´s left chamber instead of the right.
As a result of the clinical error, the girl grew up with permanent oxygen deprivation which caused hypoxia, physical disabilities and other health problems, and it was not until 2007 that the cause of the problem was identified. The court was told that the claimant underwent surgery shortly before her thirtieth birthday in 2009 to correct the problem, and subsequently sought legal advice about making a claim for negligent heart surgery compensation in relation to the initial error.
The defence for the negligent surgeon argued that it was too late to make a claim for heart surgery negligence compensation according to the Statute of Limitations; however the claimant´s counsel successfully argued that the woman could not have been expected to known that her heart condition was due to Dr Gazzaniga´s medical negligence prior to the discovery of the error in 2007 – with the claim then made within the Statute of Limitations after the discovery of the negligent heart surgery.
In court, the physician who clinically corrected the heart mistake described Dr. Gazzaniga´s work in court as “baffling” and “incorrect” and along with two other cardiothoracic surgeons, a cardiologist, a paediatric cardiologist and a vocational rehabilitation specialist, testified that the woman´s heart condition and subsequent problems could have been avoided had it not been for the negligence of Dr. Gazzaniga.
After three weeks of litigation, the jury at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pasadena returned a verdict in favour of the claimant and awarded her one million dollars in heart surgery negligence compensation, having found Dr. Gazzaniga guilty of medical negligence by demonstrating a lack of skill – or the ability to demonstrate that skill – during the first surgical operation.
Posted: May 20th, 2012
An ex-paramedic, who was left severely disabled after doctors removed the wrong part of his brain, has accepted a seven figure settlement of compensation for brain surgery negligence from the NHS Trust responsible for the error.
John Tunney (63) from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, had the operation in April 2008 after an MRI scan had revealed abnormalities around his pituitary gland. However, instead of taking out the tumour, surgeons took away healthy tissue during the operation which resulted in John´s brain haemorrhaging.
The error left John partially blind and needing 24 hour care. He later learned that the operation had not even been necessary as doctors had failed to check the results of a blood test which would have revealed that John was suffering from prolactinoma – a benign and common pituitary tumour which can be treated with tablets.
After taking legal counsel, John – who worked for the West Midlands Ambulance Service as a paramedic for 23 years – made a claim for negligent brain surgery compensation against the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and, after an investigation, the NHS Trust admitted liability for the dual error.
John´s solicitors began negotiations with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust over how much compensation for negligent brain surgery should be awarded and, although details of the final settlement have not been released, a settlement in excess of one million pounds has been agreed.
Posted: April 26th, 2012
An eleven-year-old girl, who suffered catastrophic injuries due to avoidable errors made prior to her delivery, has had a settlement of compensation for foetal monitoring negligence approved at London´s High Court.
Milly Evans from Cranwell in Lincolnshire was born at the Lincoln County Hospital on 1st March 2001, but just after her birth suffered a seizure which resulted in her developing cerebral palsy. Her injury was so bad that Milly is now confined to a wheelchair, requires 24 hour care and communicates through sophisticated eye-gaze equipment.
The seizure was attributed to negligent observation just before the delivery which, if the baby’s heart had been properly monitored, would have shown that the foetus was distressed and Milly´s birth would have been brought forward – avoiding her catastrophic injuries.
Although United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability for Milly´s injuries, the amount of compensation for negligent foetal monitoring was contested and, due to the delay, Milly´s father – Andy Evans – had to give up his career as a Red Arrows pilot.
Sir Robert Nelson at the High Court heard that an agreement had now been reached on a compensation for foetal monitoring negligence package which consisted of a lump sum payment of 5.86 million pounds and lifelong annual periodic payments increasing over time to 204,000 pounds per year.
Speaking after Sir Robert Nelson had approved the compensation settlement, the Evans family said that the money would be used to construct a specially adapted home which would be big enough for Milly to have access to all the rooms and include a hydrotherapy pool.
Posted: April 16th, 2012
A woman, who had to undergo a tracheostomy operation after a negligent doctor severed a nerve in her neck in a previous surgical procedure, has won an undisclosed settlement of compensation for windpipe injury medical negligence.
Joanne Roche (42) from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, underwent the original operation in February 2008 at the Scarborough Royal Infirmary when she was brought in for routine surgery to remove a thyroid gland. However, when she awoke from the anaesthetic, Joanne knew immediately that something was wrong.
The surgeon who had performed the operation – Dr Nayef El-Bhargouti – had severed a nerve to Joanne´s vocal chords, which were blocking her airways, leaving her struggling to breathe whenever she lay back and unable to talk.
Although she was allowed to depart hospital, and even return to her part-time job as a health-care assistant, Joanne´s condition failed to improve. Four months after her original operation she had to undergo a tracheostomy operation to insert a tube into her throat to enable her to breathe more clearly.
Joanne at first had no intention of making a claim for windpipe injury medical negligence compensation, but after the tracheostomy had been inserted, Joanne was unable to speak without placing a hand over the opening in her throat, has become more prone to infections and has to avoid family events – such as swimming – where there is a risk that water may get into her lungs.
After taking legal guidance, Joanne made a windpipe injury medical negligence claim against Dr Nayef El-Bhargouti and the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Trust. In the course of constructing the claim, Joanne´s solicitors discovered that Dr Nayef El-Bhargouti was not skilled in thyroid surgery and her operation had been done in half the time it should have.
Joanne made a complaint to the General Medical Council, who suspended the doctor. After such a clear indication of liability, the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust made an undisclosed offer of compensation for windpipe injury medical negligence which Joanne accepted and which will enable her to afford special breathing apparatus so that she may enjoy swimming with her children once again.
Posted: January 21st, 2012
A claim of GP malpractice is being examined by The Medical Council is investigating in the aftermath of claims of doctor negligence against a Dublin GP who allegedly over-prescribed psychoactive benzodiazepines.
It is claimed that Dr Mohammed Ahmed Khan, with a practice in Wicklow Street, Dublin, prescribed up to four times the recommended dosage of drugs such as Valium to patients suffering from anxiety and depression. The Medical Council are also looking into claims that Dr Khan failed to make sufficient enquiries as to whether any of the patients he was prescribing these drugs to were already being treated by another doctor.
Dr Khan has additionally been accused of poor professional performance due to his alleged failure to refer patients with a dependency on benzodiazepines to drug treatment centres or specialist substance misuse practitioners and due to his reliance on prescription drugs where an alternative form of treatment may have been more beneficial to the patient or in their best interests.
The Medical Council polices doctors to practise medicine in the Republic of Ireland. Its statutory role, as outlined in the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, is to protect the public by promoting and better ensuring high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence from registered medical practitioners.