Medical Negligence: Accident and Emergency Claims*

Doctors and nurses in hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments throughout Ireland provide a vital service by treating casualties and emergency cases.

These medical practitioners are responsible for diagnosing and treating thousands of patients in often challenging circumstances which place regular demands on their knowledge, experience and specialist skills.

While these medical professionals usually deliver effective treatment in a demanding environment, mistakes can happen in a small minority of cases.

A&E treatment, delay and negligence can lead to serious injury or long term disability

Some common causes of injury and disability caused by A&E Negligence:

  • Delay:  A & E departments regularly treat the most serious injuries caused by accidents or adverse reactions, so time is often of the essence. Delays in initial diagnosis and the resulting delay in the provision of treatment can cause illness, leading to initial injuries deteriorating, and in some cases, avoidable death.  If the delay in diagnosis and treatment in A & E was unreasonable and your condition worsened, you may be able to claim compensation for the avoidable pain, suffering and financial losses incurred as a result.
  • Misdiagnosis Some injuries and illnesses may be difficult to diagnose immediately but this could eventually lead to an injury or medical condition becoming worse, the development of secondary complications and, in some cases, having fatal consequences. Misdiagnosis in A & E departments is not uncommon.
  • Failure to diagnose acute illnesses:  Some of the accident and emergency negligence and errors that occur in hospitals include failure to diagnose acute illnesses or underlying medical conditions. There are occasional cases involving failure to take a proper (such as scans, X-rays and blood tests). Sometimes even fractures are can be missed and patients incorrectly sent home instead of being admitted to hospital for treatment.
  • Medical Treatment Errors:  Other examples of A&E negligence might include not operating when necessary, making mistakes during surgery or neglecting to provide proper post-operative care. Serious consequences can result from failure to treat certain medical conditions on initial presentation at the A & E Department and in acute, severe cases, early surgery is essential to secure the best outcome and prognosis.

Making a claim for A&E medical negligence

If harm has been caused to you that could reasonably have been avoided were it not for substandard medical care, you may be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence. Like any inadequate medical care, negligent treatment in hospital accident and emergency departments may lead to health problems. The patient affected may be left suffering ongoing pain.

Whether the problem has minor or far-reaching effects, the victim may need extra treatment in the long term to deal with the consequences. The costs of this additional treatment could include physiotherapy, ongoing care and disability support. If applicable, the person’s reduced earning capacity may also be taken into account in an award of compensation.

What steps are involved in making a A&E injury claim?

  1. Consult with a medical negligence solicitor to investigate your claim. We have a dedicated team here at HOMS Assist.
  2. Once you instruct a medical negligence solicitor at HOMS Assist, we will obtain copies of all the relevant medical records.
  3. We will then engage an appropriate medical expert, usually from the United Kingdom, to furnish a written opinion as to whether the medical care provided to you fell below an acceptable reasonable standard, resulting in a breach of duty of care.
  4. We will also obtain a written opinion from the same medical expert, or from another appropriate expert to confirm that there is a causal connection between the breach of duty and the injury you sustained.
  5. If the independent medical expert(s) conclude(s) that medical negligence has occurred, your medical negligence solicitor will draft a "letter of claim" outlining the nature of your case and inviting the responsible medical practitioner(s)/hospital to settle your case. It is usually necessary to initiate court proceedings, given the tight timelines involved in bringing a medical negligence case. What happens next depends on the response to the letter of claim.

It is natural to have concerns about the process. However, we at HOMS Assist will be there to guide you through every step of the way.

 

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

John Ringrose partner HOMS Assist
John Ringrose, Partner
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