For most, the GP’s doctor’s office is a safe space that we lean on in times of need. Usually a familiar face that’s been in the family for years and years, your GP is your guardian angel when it comes to health and wellness. 

But what happens when things don’t go to plan? Despite being a trained professional, doctor negligence can occur when we least expect it. 

Here’s how to identify and tackle GP negligence.

GP Negligence Claim

When visiting the GP’s surgery, patients are hoping to emerge satisfied and on their way to recovery. However this isn’t always the case.

In a number of incidents, there’s a possibility some form of negligence resulted in further illness or injury at the hands of the doctor. 

When visiting a GP leads to an original condition becoming worse over time – as a result of a breach in duty of care – a claim for doctor negligence should be submitted to a medical negligence solicitor such as Sligo-based Valerie Kearins.

What is GP negligence

GP negligence can be described as a worsening of original symptoms in a patient as a result of an under-skilled practitioner following a visit to the doctor’s office. 

If such a deterioration can be proven, patients could be entitled to compensation. 

In Ireland, when putting forward a claim, medical negligence solicitors must provide evidence that indicates a referral to a specialist by your GP could have lead to the correct treatment of your ailment.

GP negligence can refer to:

  • Mistreatment: to not properly carry out a doctor’s duty of care in a way that results in abuse or harm done to a patient
  • Misdiagnosis: offering a patient wrongly informed information about what is wrong with them
  • Failure to apply the right next steps following a set of test results: in other words, when a GP does not offer a patient information or a referral to seek further medical treatment once an illness is established

Common doctor negligence claims

All types of negligence cases fall under a failure of some kind such as failure to adhere to the appropriate practices. Some examples include the following: 

  • Failure to investigate symptoms
  • Failure to act on test results
  • Failure to keep patients’ records up to date
  • Failure to refer correctly
  • Medication or prescription errors
  • Failure to review medication / defective drug administration

Claim for failure to investigate symptoms

Failure to investigate claims occur when further testing to establish an illness is not carried out.

An example of failure to investigate is ignoring an abnormality for example, can lead to an inaccurate or late diagnosis for the patient which prohibits them from seeking the care they need.

Claim for failure to act on test results

Claims for failure to act on test results could lead to a deterioration in the patient’s current condition. if follow-up care is not provided after a set of results is obtained. 

An example of failure to test is not running accurate blood testing following complaints from a patient could lead to no follow-up care being provided after a set of results is obtained. 

Claim for failure to keep patients’ records up to date

A GP failing to keep records of patients up to date will make understanding a patient’s condition near impossible if no clear and concise details exist about their illness’s progression. 

An example of failure to keep patients’ records uo to date includes a GP neglecting to closely document the progression on a patient’s diagnosis so that any further practitioners have a clear idea of their course of treatment and results so far.

Claim for failure to refer correctly

A GP failing to refer their patent on to a specialist for more focused help if needed could result in serious consequence. 

An example of failure to refer correctly following a standard health chec –  if a patient needs a surgery or further scans and a doctor doesn’t refer them on to a specialist, it could lead to a late diagnosis. 

Claim for medication or prescription errors

If the wrong medication is prescribed it could lead to a worsening of an illness or cause serious harm to an individual. 

An example of a claim for medication errors is a GP making an error in their prescription for medication. This could lead to serious harm for a patient as they could be allergic to ingredients or simply not require the strength of the medication suggested.

Claim for failure to review medication / defective drug administration

Similar to the above, mistakes in this area could result in further illness or hospitalisation for a patient should they be given the wrong medication. 

An example of failure to review medication / defective drug administration is if a doctor fails to conduct check-ins on how a patient is reacting to a course of medication given. 

Contact Valerie Kearins Solicitors Today

At Valerie Kearins Solicitors – we specialise in many different aspects of the law to provide our clients with the best professional support and advice.

Who can be responsible for doctor negligence

Ultimately, the onus of upholding standards and a duty of care falls on the GP themselves as medical practitioners knowingly take on that responsibility when they qualify to operate in their profession.

The Irish College of General Practitioners set the standards for GP conduct in Ireland, with help from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). 

Their aim as a body is to uphold general practitioners to their understood responsibility as key providers of safe, quality safe care in the primary care setting.

Another board to be aware of when looking into GP negligence is the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

It is the government body tasked with dishing out personal injury awards and speeding up the process of assessment in personal injury claims.

However, medical or GP negligence is a notable exception when it comes to this board’s reviews so it is advised you seek help from a medical negligence solicitor to take these proceedings further.

Potential effects of a GP being negligent

When a GP fails to meet their standard and duty of care, a number of consequence could arise. 

These include:

  • A patient receiving the incorrect treatment for their illness, resulting in a worsening of conditions
  • Following on from the above, a serious deterioration of said medical condition or injuries
  • The patient may sustain personal injuries should a late or inaccurate diagnosis be reached
  • A worsening of the original illness or injury over time to a substantial degree
  • As a result further treatment and attention could be needed and could ensue a financial loss
  • There may be a medication or prescription error made which could be dangerous for the patient’s well-being

Compensation for Doctor Negligence

Once cause for a medical negligence claim submission is established, you could be entitled to compensation for damage caused by such negligence. 

If you are to proceed legally with a medical negligence claim you can expect to be eligible for  compensation for said accident and added expenses that may have incurred as a result. 

Compensation in this case is split into two types of damages – general and special. 

To find out how much you can receive in compensation make an enquiry with us today for a claim assessment. 

Compensation for General Damages : 

In simple terms, this type of compensation relates to non-financial damages.

Under this category, pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a medical negligence injury all qualify as consequences suitbale for claims to be made. 

Compensation for Special damages : 

These damages relate to out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the medical negligence injury.

For example, a loss of earnings (if the negligence meant you are out of work), medical bills, added travel costs as a result of the accident (travel to and from the hospital, etc.) and future care costs. 

In these case, Irish solicitors are prohibited from revealing a set value one can expect to receive. 

Therefore it is advised an injured party make an inquiry for a free claim assessment to find out how much their claim could be worth. 

How to prove doctor negligence

In order to take doctor negligence claims forward, the patient must offer a set of evidence to prove a lack of adherence to their expected duty of care by the GP.

To prove GP negligence occurred, a case must show that a patient’s condition would have improved had they received treatment from another GP – or medical professional – that could have better upheld reasonable medical standards.

In other words, if a practicing GP fails to ensure the health and safety of their patients to a reasonable degree, they may be liable for medical negligence claims to be brought against them.

The most common way to prove negligence is by obtaining a set of the patient’s medical records.

Making a claim for someone under the age of 18

When making a claim under this set of circumstances, the age of the patient will be taken into consideration as the statute of limitations works differently for those under the age of 18. 

A minor is prohibited from legally putting forward their own case for medical negligence.

If you are under the age of 18 and are looking to submit a case for GP negligence, your two-year period begins on the date of your 18th birthday.  

This ultimately gives minors more time to make a case for compensation in the event of malpractice due to their being under the age of 18.

Alternatively, in this case a parent or legal guardian can file a GP negligence case on the minor’s behalf – which is often the most common outcome. 

This is because the primary caregiver is more likely to be in possession of the child’s medical records at the time of the incident occuring.

How to make a claim for medical negligence

When putting in a claim for medical negligence, there are three main steps a patient should follow to elevate their chances of receiving compensation. 

Step 1: Contact a solicitor: 

As the topic of medical negligence is complex when it comes to Irish law, it is always advisable to enlist the help of a legal professional. 

Submitting claims through a solicitor will ensure all bases are covered and no steps are missed. It is important to also note, choosing to neglect a solicitor’s advice could slow down the processing of your claim. 

A solicitor’s help can ensure you are aware of your medical negligence time limit claim.

Step 2: Obtain medical records: 

Potentially the most important step in the process, a patient will need these documents to prove medical negligence exists in their case. 

Once obtained, a solicitor will have the records assessed by an independent medical expert to establish cause.

Step 3 Letter of claim: 

Once the independent medical expert has confirmed that medical negligence is present in the case, then your solicitor will write up a letter of claim to the medical practitioner who mis-treated the patient.

The document will outline the nature of the case and further invites the medical practitioner to settle straight away. 

The next steps will depend on the response to the letter of claim and it will determine whether the case will be seen in court or settled outside of court.

Step 4: Begin court proceedings, if necessary 

An extremely small percentage of these case will make their way into court as most medical negligence cases are settled before they get anywhere close.

However, if a case does end up going to court, a solicitor will begin proceedings by filing the appropriate court papers. 

This process must begin within two years of making the claim so as to abide by the statute of limitations. 

Contact Valerie Kearins Solicitors Today

At Valerie Kearins Solicitors – we specialise in many different aspects of the law to provide our clients with the best professional support and advice.

How long do I have to make a claim for Medical Negligence

You have two years less a day following the date of the incident – or two years less a day following the date that a person made the connection that their illness or injuries were caused as a result of said medical negligence.

In terms of legal time limits, with cases like these clients can expect there to be a cap on how many years after the incident occurred a claim will be valid – this is something a solicitor can help establish. 

Will I have to go to court with my claim

Yes, a court case is a possibility, however it is highly unlikely a medical negligence case will be brought to court as they are usually settled privately outside. 

Even where court proceedings have been commenced, it has been noted that only three percent of these cases are seen in front of a judge. 

The court strongly encourages early settlement of these cases as there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate settlement of the medical claim without seeing it out in front of an audience. 

Make a claim today

We understand medical negligence claims can be a complex and emotional ordeal for many. That is why we promise to be on hand to assist and guide you every step of the way.

At Valerie Kearins Medical Negligence Solicitors – one of the top solicitors’ firms in Sligo – we specialise in many different aspects of the law to provide our clients with the best professional support and advice. 

We pride ourselves on representing a broad spectrum of society and have an extensive private client practice in the county as well as across Ireland. 

You can rest assured that you’ll have an experienced team on your side with us in your corner – get in touch today. 

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