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What is Clinical Malpractice?*

Introduction: Clinical Malpractice Compensation

Claims for clinical malpractice compensation have been rising, and several thousand claims are made each year against hospitals, clinics, doctors and other medical practitioners for illnesses such as MRSA contracted in a hospital, operations that have gone wrong and treatments that have failed. Claims are often made against doctors who failed to correctly diagnose a disease or condition, or for bureaucratic mistakes which have led to severe injuries or even death whilst under the care of a medical practitioner.

The best method of establishing whether your injuries are due to errors of judgment by a medical practitioner is to have an experienced solicitor explain clinical malpractice with regard to the individual circumstances of your particular case. Making a compensation claim for clinical malpractice can be complex and will always call for the services of an experienced clinical malpractice solicitor.

If you believe that a medical practitioner has caused you intentional or accidental harm, you may be entitled to claim compensation for the injuries you sustained and should speak with a clinical malpractice solicitor at the first possible opportunity about your case.

Explaining Clinical Malpractice

Clinical malpractice – which is also known as medical malpractice, medical negligence or clinical negligence – can be defined as any action, or inaction, by a hospital, clinic or medical practitioner which has led directly to a preventable injury, serious deterioration of a condition, the contraction of a disease or the death of a patient.

Unfortunately, not every patient injury or death can be blamed on clinical malpractice; many treatments for diseases fail in scenarios for which no one can be blamed, patients may not be able to be treated in time and operations may have had complications which could not have been prevented or foreseen.

For an injury to be caused by medical malpractice, a medical practitioner or entity must have failed in their duty of care to a patient and not have done all that could have been “reasonably” expected to guarantee successful treatment. For example, cases such as when patients contract a disease like MRSA are considered as clinical malpractice as the medical entity has not provided a clean, safe environment for its patients.

Who Can Claim Compensation For Clinical Malpractice?

A clinical malpractice compensation claim can only be made if medical negligence resulted in an injury being sustained or the life of a patient being seriously affected by an incorrect diagnosis or treatment. No compensation for clinical malpractice can be made without any major health repercussions having been experienced from an error, even if medical negligence can be proved. Negligence is considered to be neglect of the duty of care to a patient by the hospital or clinic, doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, anaesthetist etc. and a claim for compensation in the case of private health care could potentially be pursued as a breach of contract for paid services.

Clinical malpractice may not involve only one medical practitioner, and one or more may be accused as having failed in their duty of care. Bureaucratic procedures in a hospital rarely results in just one medical practitioner bearing sole responsibility, and in such cases the negligent party will have contributed to some degree to the injuries suffered by the injured patient. In such cases, this “contributory negligence” of each respective party would be included in any compensation for clinical malpractice claim and each would be liable to pay a percentage of any settlement awarded.

Determining Whether Your Injuries were a Result of Clinical Malpractice

Because clinical malpractice compensation claims are generally so complex, it is essential that you seek the counsel of a specialist clinical malpractice solicitor before deciding to fight for compensation for a medical error. A solicitor with expertise in this area of the law would be able to make a thorough evaluation and investigation, and will engage an expert medical professional to confirm that the actions or inactions of a medical practitioner or entity have been negligent. A solicitor will evaluate medical evidence in personal records and can contact those suspected of negligence to give them the opportunity to explain their actions. It is possible for settlements to be reached without the need for court action, although it is not unusual for clinical malpractice cases to require litigation.

When claims for clinical malpractice are taken to court, a judge will determine whether the injury was caused by medical negligence based on the evidence presented to him or her. Despite the fact that most judges will be sympathetic to a patient’s situation, in order to be successful in your claim, it must be proven that “on the balance of probabilities”, medical negligence has been the root of your injuries.

Damages Awarded for Clinical Malpractice

Awards for clinical malpractice compensation are comprised of general damages and special damages.

General damages cover the pain and suffering caused by the clinical malpractice. In addition, any emotional trauma which has resulted from the injury will be included and general damages will also recompense a client for any future pain due to possible corrective surgery or remedial treatment and how this treatment may affect the patient´s quality of life.

Special damages are given to recover any financial expenses incurred as a result of an injury sustained due to medical negligence. Any costs already incurred – which could include costs for medical treatment, transportation costs, home help, adjustments to home – along with future costs of treatment and loss of income should be compensated under special damages.

Clinical Malpractice Compensation Claims and the Statute of Limitations

According to the Statute of Limitations in Ireland, a person has two years to make a claim for clinical malpractice compensation from the date the injury was sustained. However, with cases involving medical negligence, knowledge of the injury is not always immediately apparent. Injuries are often discovered accidently, and it may be some time before the injuries due to medical negligence start to manifest. In cases such as these, the two year time limit would start from the “date of knowledge” of the injuries. There are several exceptions to the two year time limit, and it is very important for the Statute of Limitations to be explained by a solicitor as regards your personal case for clinical malpractice.

Clinical Malpractice Claims: Summary

  • It is highly important that you engage an experienced solicitor when deciding to claim for clinical malpractice compensation.
  • Many cases for clinical malpractice are made each year against hospitals, clinics and medical practitioners for a vast range of reasons for clinical malpractice.
  • Claims for compensation for clinical malpractice can only be made when it can be proven that the injury was caused by a failure to provide the patient with a “duty of care”.
  • The patient has two years from the date the injury was sustained or the date of knowledge to make a claim for compensation, and if successful, they should receive compensation awards for both general and special damages.