The quality of the health system in Ireland is considered excellent when compared to other international nations, and our surgeons operate at a consistent and highly skilled level.   

Still, with such technical labour, mistakes do happen and, when surgical negligence occurs, it can have huge consequences for patients.

Since 2003, the Irish state has paid over €2.4 billion in compensation for medical negligence claims and hospital accident claims

Surgical negligence claims can be among the costliest with regard to compensation, as often times an error in surgery can be hugely impactful.

If you feel as though you have been the victim of surgical negligence, you can contact Valerie Kearins Medical Negligence Solicitors for help and advice on what you should do next. 

From our Sligo offices, our team is available now with friendly, expert advice on all types of medical negligence claims.

What is Surgical Negligence?

Surgical negligence occurs when surgery is not performed to an acceptable level, either as a result of a mistake from a qualified professional or an operation carried out by a surgeon that is unqualified or unfit to perform in their role. 

Surgeons carry the same duty of care to their patients as any other medical professional and, if that duty is breached and an accident, injury or illness follows as a result, there may be grounds for a surgical negligence claim. 

More often than not, with such a qualified Irish workforce, it is an error in surgery that leads to a surgical negligence claim. 

It is important to remember that, with any case of medical negligence, it must be proven that the practitioner involved did not perform to an acceptable level. 

Surgery as a course of treatment is usually a last resort because it carries so many risks, and an unsuccessful surgery may not be the fault of the surgeon. 

If they are deemed to have performed their duties to an appropriate standard, it may be difficult to pursue a surgical negligence claim.

How to Prove Surgical Negligence

In Irish law, proving surgical negligence or any kind of medical negligence requires you to establish two things:

  • A prior relationship existed between the patient and the surgeon or practitioner in question.
  • The surgeon’s actions were deemed negligent, and they directly caused or contributed to the patient’s injury, disease or illness.

If it is decided that your own actions, as well as those of the surgeon, contributed to your injury, you may still be able to pursue a contributory negligence claim. 

Compensation for your injury or illness is likely to be lower if this is the case.

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.

Emergency Surgery vs Elective Surgery

Emergency surgery covers very serious, often life-threatening operations that must be performed without any delay.

Elective surgery is necessary but not as pressing – elective operations are planned in advance, meaning a patient consents to them going ahead. 

Consent can be a tricky topic in surgical law, given emergency operations sometimes have to assume a patient’s permission. 

Generally, any medical procedures cannot be authorised without a patient’s informed consent.

Common Surgery Negligence Claims

All kinds of errors can occur in surgery, and surgical negligence can occur in a variety of settings. 

Some of the more common surgery negligence claims include:

  • Wrong site surgical Negligence claims
  • Cosmetic Surgery Negligence Claim
  • Infection or Sepsis in Surgery Claim
  • Retained Surgical Items Claim
  • Nerve Damage Surgical Negligence Claim
  • Post-Surgical Operation Bleeding Claim
  • Organ Perforation and Lacerations in Surgery Claim
  • Anaesthesia Negligence Claim

Wrong Site Surgical Negligence Claim

A wrong site claim can be filed when a surgeon performs an operation on the wrong part of a patient’s body. Wrong site operations, and surgeries performed on the wrong patients, are known in medicine as never events. A wrong site surgery can inflict huge damage and fails to deal with the patient’s injury or illness.

Cosmetic Surgery Negligence Claim

Cosmetic surgery negligence is often a grey area of law. It can cover reconstructive surgery and operations that are not strictly necessary. Proving cosmetic surgery negligence can be difficult as, though you may not be satisfied with the operation after the fact, the practitioner’s performance might not have contributed to a negative outcome. If an error did occur, there may be a basis for a cosmetic surgery claim. 

Infection or Sepsis in Surgery Claim

Sepsis is a severe reaction to infection that can occur if a surgical wound is not properly treated. Sometimes, you can get an infection from surgery several months after your operation. It is important to follow the guidance of your practitioners in order to avoid infection after surgery, but if their negligence has led to an infection or sepsis, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation.

Retained Surgical Items Claim

If a surgeon or practitioner mistakenly leaves a piece of surgical equipment in a patient’s body after an operation, they can pursue a retained surgical items (RSI) claim. This item could be a scalpel, a needle, a swab or any other surgical tool. The consequences of equipment being left in a patient’s body can be severe, and preventative measures are in place to prevent it from happening often. 

Nerve Damage Surgical Negligence Claim

Nerve damage stops parts of your body from receiving the right signals from your brain, and it can often affect your arms, hands and feet. If an error in surgery is to blame for you suffering nerve damage, you may be able to seek compensation by way of a nerve damage claim. 

Post-Surgical Operation Bleeding Claim

While bleeding during or after surgery is often normal, a surgeon’s failure to identify clotting abnormalities or to guide patients on the preoperative process may constitute medical negligence.

Organ Perforation and Lacerations in Surgery Claim

If an unintentional laceration or perforation occurs during surgery, a patient may suffer unnecessary pain and long-term damage. Surgeons have a duty to carry out operations with extreme care and any avoidable damage to organs or tissue in an operation can be disastrous.

Anaesthesia Negligence Claim

Even a minor error made by an anaesthetist in surgery can have a huge impact on a patient’s condition. If anaesthesia is not correctly administered, a patient may suffer brain damage from a lack of oxygen or feel the pain of their operation as the dosage they received was ineffective.

Who is Responsible for Surgical Negligence

Surgical malpractice can be attached to any professional involved in carrying out a surgical operation. 

Naturally, the surgeon themselves is most likely to commit medical negligence, but claims can be brought against:

  • Surgeons
  • Surgeons’ assistants
  • Surgical technologists
  • Anaesthetists
  • Circulating nurses

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.

Compensation for Surgical Negligence

Compensation for medical negligence varies based on factors like your age, occupation and the severity of the injury or illness you suffer. 

Any compensatory fees you receive for surgical negligence are called damages, and there are two main types.

General Damages

General damages cover the non-financial impacts of the illness or injury you suffered as a result of surgical negligence. 

This includes the pain and suffering of the event itself, and any difficulties you will experience moving forward performing regular activities in your day-to-day life.

Specific Damages

Specific damages refer to the out-of-pocket expenses you incur as a result of your accident, illness or injury. 

This includes medical bills necessary in your recovery as well as any loss of earnings you suffer from time spent off work.

How to Make a Claim for Surgical Negligence

If you choose to enlist the help of an experienced surgical negligence solicitor for your compensation claim, these are the steps that you will take with your legal representative. 

It is important to remember that only 3% of medical negligence cases in Ireland end up going to court, but your Valerie Kearins solicitor will prepare the case so that it is ready for any eventual trial.

You can initiate the legal process by yourself, but you may be best served contacting an experienced legal representative to walk you through the process and assemble a strong case. At Valerie Kearins Solicitors, our team are happy to oblige clients with assistance on matters surrounding malpractice.

Documentation and evidence of medical history are important factors in building a strong case for compensation. They can lend credibility to your case and aid you in attaching blame to the negligent party. The sooner a medical negligence solicitor can access these files, the better chance you have at securing compensation.

A good medical negligence solicitor will be able to examine the specifics of your case to get an idea of the kind of fee that would be considered appropriate compensation. This can depend on the extent of your injury and the impact it has on things like your ability to work and provide for yourself in the period that follows.

Only around 3% of medical negligence cases go to court as most cases are settled before this point. If your case does go to court, your solicitor will begin putting things in motion by filing the appropriate court papers. As mentioned above, proceedings must begin within two years so as to abide by the statute of limitations. Medical negligence cases can drag on beyond that two-year period, but your lawyer will look to get things started as soon as possible.

How Long Do I Have to Make a Surgical Negligence Claim?

In Ireland, you have two years within which you can make a personal injury or medical negligence claim following your accident or injury. 

This period beings on the “date of knowledge”, which is the day on which you become aware of the injury or illness you have suffered. 

Parents or guardians can file surgical negligence claims on behalf of their children, or a minor can wait until their eighteenth birthday to bring forward a case themselves. 

If the incident did happen when a patient was under eighteen, their two-year window will only begin on their eighteenth birthday.

Will I Have to Go to Court for My Surgical Negligence Claim?

Only 3% of medical negligence claims in Ireland end up going to trial, with the vast majority being settled outside of court. 

At Valerie Kearins, our team will prepare your case so that it is ready in case a trial should be needed, but the likelihood is you will not have to go to court.

Make a Surgical Negligence Claim Today

At Valerie Kearins Medical NegligenceSolicitors, our friendly and experienced team is always on hand to offer expert advice on cases around medical negligence

Enquire with us today for guidance on how to move forward with your claim for compensation. 

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