Medical Negligence Solicitors* Dublin, Naas and Nationwide
Medical negligence claims* are a very complex area of the law, so it is essential that you are advised by solicitors specializing in medical negligence*. From our experience peoples main concern is getting answers and not necessarily bringing a medical negligence claim*.
At Hanahoe and Hanahoe this is what our specialist medical negligence solicitors* do, we help our client get they answers they need. Thankfully, in the main, we have a very good health care system, so often the injuries sustained are unavoidable.
However, unfortunately sometimes they are avoidable and given the serious or even catastrophic injuries that can occur, it can have a profound effect on people’s lives. In these cases, our team of medical negligence solicitors* will do everything possible to ensure that the mistakes that were made are acknowledged and that you receive the compensation* you deserve.
We have offices in both Dublin and Naas and offer a national service in medical negligence matters, where we represent clients from all over the country including Sallins, Blessington, Kildare Town, Clane, Kilcullen, Newbridge, Maynooth, Kilcock, Athy, Leixlip, Carlow, Portlaoise and Celbridge. Our medical negligence solicitors* have over 40 years’ experience advising clients on medical negligence claims*. We are an award-winning law firm, having twice won Leinster Law Firm of the Year and the Irish Law Awards. In 2019 we were also nominated as Personal Injury/Medical Negligence Law Firm of the Year.
Why Choose Hanahoe and Hanahoe as your Medical Negligence Solicitors*
- We are specialist medical negligence solicitors* with over 40 years’ experience.
- We understand that our client’s primary focus is to get answers and not necessarily to bring a medical negligence claim*. We help our clients get the answers they need.
- We advise and represent clients from all across the country. Our medical negligence solicitors* can meet you at our Dublin or Naas office, or indeed over Zoom, Gotomeeting or other digital consultation platforms we use.
- We have access to a wide range of medical experts, who can provide us with their expert opinions and you with the answers, as to whether the treatment you received was negligent.
- We are an Award Winning Law Firm, whose expertise in the area of medical negligence claims* was recognised at the 2019 Irish Law Awards
Helping clients to Get Answers
Most clients who come in to our office are not looking for medical negligence compensation*, they are looking for answers. Something went wrong with their medical treatment, and either they do not understand what happened; or they feel that their questions or concerns have been dismissed; or they were not told what happened; or else they do not believe what they have been told.
We help our clients answer those questions. From our experience of dealing with people or their families, it is much easier for them to accept a diagnosis or a serious injury, if they know that it was no one else’s fault and that they have just been unlucky. As medical negligence solicitors* that is often that’s what we do. We tell our clients that there was no medical negligence* and they were just unlucky.
The sense of relief that can give our clients is often palpable. But sometimes there is negligence and sometimes our clients have been injured unnecessarily. In those cases, we fight for our client’s every step of the way to ensure that they get the redress and medical negligence compensation* they deserve.
What is a Medical Negligence Claim*?
Medical negligence* or clinical negligence claim* are essentially personal injury claims* arising out of a negligent medical error or misdiagnoses. Medical Negligence claims* generally arise where:
- Where there has been an error made during surgery.
- Where a medical practitioner has misdiagnosed a patient.
- Where a medical practitioner fails to act on or treat an illness or complaint properly.
- Where the treatment that a patient receives is not of the standard expected of a suitably qualified medical practitioner.
- Where there has been an error made during the delivery of a baby.
The Law on Medical Negligence Claims*
Medical Negligence claims* are governed by the test set out in the case of Dunne v The National Maternity Hospital (1989) which provides that a medical practitioner is negligent in diagnosis and/or treatment only if he was guilty of such failure as no other medical practitioner of equal specialist or general status or skill will be guilty of if acting with ordinary care.
A Plaintiff will establish negligence against a medical practitioner by proving his deviation from a general and approved practice only upon proving also that the course taken was one that no other medical practitioner of like specialisation and skill would have followed when taking the ordinary care required from a person of his qualifications.
The Irish Courts have a very high threshold for what they deem to be medical negligence. This threshold makes it extremely difficult to be successful in medical negligence compensation claims*. It is therefore essential that you instruct specialist medical negligence solicitors* who have the experience and expertise in this area.
At Hanahoe and Hanahoe we have the expertise to advise you on when you have a stateable medical negligence claim* and perhaps as importantly, when you do not.
Bringing a Medical Negligence Claim*
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of negligent medical care*, the first thing you should do is consult with a specialist medical solicitor*. When initially consulting with a client, our medical negligence solicitors* will take a very detailed statement. Often due to complexity, or sometimes personal nature of the complaints, our clients prefer to prepare this statement themselves.
Once we have our initial statement, we will seek our client’s medical notes from the various medical institutions our clients attended. Often you may have attended a number of hospitals. It is essential that you take up your notes from all the hospitals you were treated in and not just from the hospital you have a complaint against.
It is also important to take up the GP’s records. Often you will find a telling note or letter in the non-offending hospitals notes or the GP notes, that may be crucial to your medical negligence claim*.
Once we take up your notes, one of our medical negligence solicitors* will go through them to see it they see anything unusual, concerning or telling in them. However, although we are specialists medical negligence solicitors*, we are not Doctors and therefore, subject to our client instructions, we would then take a preliminary view from an expert medical practitioner.
This is merely a preliminary opinion and based purely on our attendance(s), together with a small number of notes our medical negligence solicitors* feel are relevant.
While this is only a preliminary opinion and comes with the very large caveat that the expert has not considered all the notes, it gives our clients a greater insight into whether they have a potential medical negligence claim*. A lot of our clients find this very helpful deciding whether they want to take up full expert medical opinion.
Expert Medical Opinion
Before bringing medical negligence cases in Ireland, you must first get a medical opinion from a suitably experienced medical expert, confirming that treatment and/or diagnosis you received was negligent. It is a pre-requisite of any medical negligence claim* in Ireland, that you first obtain such a report.
There have been a number of High Court and Supreme Court decisions which set out that there is an obligation on any party intending to sue another, alleging professional negligence, to obtain a supportive expert opinion first before embarking on this course – Reidy v National Maternity Hospital and Cooke v Cronin.
However, it is important to note that just because you have obtained an expert medical opinion, does not mean that your medical negligence claim will be successful. It is simply the first hurdle you have to jump before bring a medical negligence case in Ireland*.
The Statue of Limitations for Medical Negligence Claims*.
The Statute of Limitations is far less clear cut in medical negligence claims*, than it is in say personal injuries claims*. The Statute of Limitations for bringing a medical negligence claim* is two years, minus one day, from the date of knowledge of the negligent treatment or care. However, you may not have knowledge of an potential medical negligence for years after your treatment.
Cancer misdiagnosis cases is a good example. The difficulty is defining when was the date of knowledge and when was it reasonable to assume a person should have had knowledge that they have a potential medical negligence claim. This has been litigated recently in the cases of Geogh v Neary, Cunningham v Neary, Farrell v Ryan and Oliver O’Sullivan v Ireland, the Attorney General, Minister Health and Children and others and the position is still not perfectly clear.
As such we would always recommend that, where possible, you issue medical negligence compensation* proceedings, within two years of the negligent treatment. However, we emphasis, that just because you have not done this, does not mean that your medical negligence claim* is statute barred. Before making a decision on the statute you should always consult with a medical negligence solicitor*
BIRTH INJURY MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
For most the delivery of a healthy son or daughter is the best day of their life. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as your child can suffer either a birth injury or a birth defect or indeed may not survive the delivery. Often such tragic circumstances are unavoidable, but occasionally they can be as a result of Medical Negligence* or hospital malpractice*.
The two main medical issues a new born may suffer are generally categorised as birth defects or birth injuries.
Birth defects, also known as congenital disorders, are conditions present at birth that can affect almost any part of the body. Birth defects occur as the baby is developing in the womb. Often the cause can be natural or indeed unknown, but occasionally it can be the result of certain toxins or medications that the mother was taking during pregnancy.
Birth Injury Medical Negligence claims*
Birth injuries occur during or immediately after the delivery process. Birth injuries are much more likely to give rises to a Medical Negligence claim* than a birth defect. But that is not to say that birth injuries are always the result of Medical Negligence*. In fact, the majority of times they are an unavoidable occurrence for which no one is responsible. It is for this reason that you should take the advice from a good Medical Negligence solicitor. Birth injuries can vary in severity from broken bones to significant brain injuries.
Some of the more common significant birth injuries are:
- Brain injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- ERB’s palsy (brachial plexus injury) (facial paralysis)
- Perinatal Asphyxia Caput Succedaneum
- Neonatal Hypoglycaemia
- Pelvic injuries
- Forcep and vacuum injuries
CEREBRAL PALSY MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture. It is caused by damage that occurs to an immature brain as it develops, often before birth.
While brain damage is the cause of cerebral palsy, there are many different factors which can trigger the damage. It is important to note that only a small number of children found to have cerebral palsy, will have the disability as a result of the medical negligent* management of the mother’s pregnancy, delivery or neo-natal care.
It is often hard to determine the cause of cerebral palsy, but common causes are:
- Poor brain development in the womb.
- Maternal infections or medical conditions.
- Disruption of blood flow to the developing brain.
- Genetic conditions.
- Ingestion of toxins or drugs during pregnancy.
- Damage to the head or skull during delivery and complications related to premature delivery.
ERB’s PALSY MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
Erb’s Palsy is paralysis caused by injury to the arm’s main nerves. The most common cause of Erb’s Palsy is excessive pulling or stretching of an infant’s head and shoulders during vaginal birth.
In many cases Erb’s Palsy resolves itself on its own with little or no treatment. However, in severe cases, where the nerves in the upper brachial plexus are badly damaged, the affected arm may suffer from permanent weakness or even paralysis. There four main types of nerve injury that occur with Erb’s Palsy are:
- Neuropraxia – this is where the nerve is stretched or shocked but does not tear. Typically, this injury will heal on its own within three months.
- Neuroma – this is a more serious stretch injury that damages some fibers. The likelihood is that this will need surgical intervention.
- Rupture – this occurs when the nerve itself is torn. Rupture injuries require surgery and it will not heal on its own.
- Avulsions – this is the most severe type of nerve damage where the nerve is totally torn from the spinal cord. The affected nerve cannot be re-attached to the spinal cord.
EPISIOTOMY/PERINEAL TEARS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
The perineum is the area between the vagina and the anus. During vaginal deliveries particularly in the first pregnancy it is not uncommon for the perineum to tear. In approximately 1 in 7 pregnancies a surgical procedure called an episiotomy is carried out. An episiotomy is a cut which is made in the area between the vagina and the anus. The purpose of this procedure is to help deliver the baby and prevent the muscles and skin from tearing. Once the baby is delivered the incision is stitched up.
As a general rule, episiotomies are done when a baby is in distress and needs to be born quickly, or there is a need for a forceps or vacuum, or there is a risk of a tear to the sphincter muscle. Episiotomies used to be done routinely, but this is no longer the case and medical practitioners try to avoid them where possible
The episiotomy is generally stitched within an hour of birth and if done properly the mother should recover within a month. Where the procedure is not done correctly or if a severe tear occurs affecting the sphincter muscles, there can be serious consequences for the mother and it possible that she has a Medical Negligence claim.*
Such consequences include:
Severe pain or loss of sensation;
Adverse effects on a mother’s sexual function.
There are four categories of perineal tear:
- A first-degree tear is generally superficial and only skin deep and will heal naturally.
- Second degree tears are deeper affecting the muscles and skin of the perineum, but not the anal sphincter.
- Third- and fourth-degree tears are also known as obstetric and sphincter injuries (OASI) extending to the muscles that control the anus. These are deeper tears and need to be repaired by surgery.
If you have suffered either a third or fourth degree you should seek the advice of a good Medical Negligence solicitor*, like Hanahoe and Hanahoe. Medical Negligence claims* arise in circumstances where, you can prove that the tear was either allowed to extend too far damaging the sphincter, or where the tear has not been treated correctly.
BLADDER AND BOWEL PERFORATIONS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
Bladder and bowel perforations can occur during caesarean section deliveries. These are known risks of the surgery and therefore the mere fact that either your bladder or bowel were perforated, does not mean that you have a claim for Medical Negligence.*
The difficulty is when the perforation is not identified and the mother’s abdomen is closed, without the necessary repair work being done. This can result in the mother developing an infection and becoming incredibly unwell. In these situations, the mother potential has a claim in Medical Negligence.*
As a general rule, bowel perforations are more dangerous than bladder perforations. This is due to the simple fact that urine which comes from the bladder is sterile, whereas faeces coming from the bowel are not. Therefore, it is much more likely for the infection to develop into sepsis, which is a very serious condition.
Like a lot of medical conditions identifying the infection early is incredibly important. Early detection will be a huge determining factor, when it comes to the treatment which is required and the outcome.
RETAINED PRODUCTS OF CONCEPTION (RPOC) MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
Retained products of conception is a medical term used to describe the partial or complete retention of parts of the placenta or tissue which is left in the uterus after delivery. RPOC can also occur during miscarriages or abortions.
If the retained placenta or tissue is left untreated it will decay and will cause an infection. If the infection goes untreated it can have very serious consequences for the mother and may even in severe cases result in sepsis.
FAILED STERILISATION OR WRONGFUL CONCEPTION MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS*
Wrongful conception is where a child is born who would not have been born without negligent treatment. This can happen through a failed vasectomy or by failed sterilisation.
An effective vasectomy is a permanent surgical procedure that cuts or seals the tubes carrying a man’s sperm to prevent pregnancy. Failed vasectomies occur for less than 1% of men. The causes of this are Medical Negligence*, engaging in sexual activities too soon or that the tubes re-connect naturally.
Sterilisation is when a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked or sealed to prevent fertilisation and this procedure is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. There is a risk the operation will not be successful, as in some cases blocked tubes will reconnect either immediately or years later. This can also occur due to failure of the surgical procedure, where the tying or clipping of the fallopian tubes is not successful. In such case you should seek advice from a good Medical Negligence solicitor.*
The leading Irish case governing failed sterilisations is Byrne -v- Ryan – decision of the Honourable Peter Kelly, High Court 2007. While the High Court was moved to make an award for damages with respect to pain and suffering caused by the pregnancy, labour and a new tubal ligation procedure, it would not make an award for damages arising out of the future care costs of the child, as it said it would be contrary to public policy.
CANCER MISDIAGNOSIS MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS *
In Ireland there are an average of 43,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed each year. Alarmingly it is predicted that Ireland will see a doubling in incidences of cancer by 2045. Despite the high number of cancer diagnosis each year, quite often cancer goes undiagnosed, or there is a delay in diagnosis.
A delay in diagnosing cancer can have devastating consequences for a patient. It can often mean that a patient does not receive the timely and appropriate treatment they required. This can significantly decrease their survival rate. It can also result in them needing to undergo much more aggressive or invasive treatment in order to treat their cancer. In such cases the patient is likely to have a Medical Negligence claim and you should seek the advice of specialised Medical Negligence lawyers.*
Common misdiagnosed cancers include breast, cervical, colorectal, pancreatic and lung cancer. Medical practitioners can often fail to diagnose these and other cancers due to their:
- Failure to investigate or identify certain symptoms associated with cancer;
- Failure to carry out and properly analyse abnormal blood tests;
- Failure to perform appropriate scans, x-rays or biopsies;
- Failing to investigate or act on certain recommendations made by the testing laboratory;
- Failing to make the appropriate referrals;
- Failure to provide proper follow up care.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.