Causes of Medical Negligence

Like any profession or job doctors and other medical professionals can make errors of judgement or neglect to carry out their duties to the required standard. Usually this is not the case and the vast majority of medical practitioners do excellent work every day in our hospitals and clinics. When they do occur, however, incidents of hospital negligence and medical errors are often due to the pressure (and fatigue) of working long hours in what is undoubtedly a stressful environment.

Other errors may be due to the lack of experience of a young doctor or perhaps even a senior doctor or surgeon’s lack of familiarity with a new procedure or practice. On occasions errors are made due to administrative problems such as improper documentation, missing medical records or even bad handwriting. Lack of communication, particularly if a language barrier exists between doctor and patient causes an obvious risk.

Indeed the list of possible causes is almost endless and any one factor, or combination of factors, may result in a doctor acting negligently in the treatment of his or her patient.

Incomplete Patient Disclosure

It is also worth remembering that even if the doctor and/or medical team carried out the relevant procedures to the correct standard, the treatment of the patient may well have been ‘negligent’ in that he or she did not receive full disclosure of the risks and consequences of the procedure in question, or were not advised at the earliest possible moment that an error had indeed been made.

Do I sue my own Doctor directly for Medical or Hospital Negligence?

Most of us will recognise that even when a doctor has acted negligently, he or she is for the most part an honest professional who generally does excellent and much needed work in one of the worthiest professions. This will often make clients reluctant to pursue a medical negligence case. The short answer to the above question, however, is generally speaking no. The case is taken against the relevant hospital or health authority. The doctor is not sued personally.

Does a Doctor’s mistake always constitute Hospital Negligence?

What is important to remember and is often misunderstood by clients is that this does not necessarily mean that the treatment was ‘negligent’. Whilst better quality of care or safety measures could have prevented your injury, it may be that the incident itself was in fact completely unavoidable. Hospital and medical negligence cases are perhaps more complex than any other genre of personal injury law, a fact that is recognised by the Irish legal system; unlike almost every other type of personal injury compensation case, the Personal Injuries Assessment Board will refuse jurisdiction in respect of such cases.

Summary

  • There is a distinction between hospital negligence claims and personal accidents which occur on hospital premises.
  • Hospital negligence claims arise from when a medical practitioner is guilty of an error of treatment or lack of treatment in avoidable circumstances.
  • To be successful, hospital negligence claims have to prove that a medical practitioner demonstrated a lack of medical skill, or a lack of applying that skill.
  • Special damages can also be included in hospital negligence claims to include psychological trauma, out of pocket expenses and loss of earnings.
  • You only have two years from the date of knowledge of medical negligence in which to make hospital negligence claims, so speak with our solicitor today on our free claims service.

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