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Medical Accident Claims

You are entitled to make medical accident claims if you have sustained a loss, injury or a deterioration in an existing condition due to the negligence of a medical practitioner who owed you a duty of care. A claim for medical accident compensation has to demonstrate that the medical practitioner responsible for the accident displayed a lack of the skill or the inability to display the skills associated with a medical professional. As liability in medical accident claims is determined by medical opinion rather than established fact, the Injuries Board will decline to assess applications for medical accident claims, and it is therefore recommended that you discuss the circumstances surrounding your medical accident with an experienced personal injury solicitor.

Settlement of Claim for Burns due to Carers´ Negligence

An undisclosed settlement of a claim for burns due to carers´ negligence has been paid to the daughters of a woman who was injured in a bathroom accident. Ninety-year-old Jessie King suffered from dementia and was attended daily in her Rotherham home by two carers who helped Jessie out of bed and assisted her to the bathroom for a shower. On 15th February 2012, Jessie fell while getting ready for her shower and landed with her back against the bathroom radiator. The two carers contacted Rothercare – a home care services provider – to assist them after Jessie´s fall. Unfortunately, neither of the carers considered that the radiator against which Jessie had fallen was still on. When specialists from Rothercare arrived, Jessie was helped to her feet. She was then helped to finish her shower by the specialists while the two carers prepared Jessie´s breakfast before leaving. It was not until Jessie was visited later in the day by her daughter and a District Nurse that the injury was discovered. The District Nurse called an ambulance and Jessie was taken to the Northern General Hospital, where she was admitted into the burns unit. Jessie had to undergo several skin grafts due to the burns on her back being so severe. On Jessie´s behalf, a claim for burns due to carers´ negligence was made against Nestor Primecare Services Ltd trading as Saga Home Care – the company that employed the two carers who had visited Jessie on 15th February. The company denied liability for Jessie´s burn injuries; but, after court proceedings were issued, the claim for burn due to carers´ negligence was resolved by negotiation for an undisclosed amount. Speaking after the settlement of the claim for burns due to carers´ negligence, one of Jessie´s two daughters told her local newspaper: “The injuries mum suffered were absolutely horrendous and we can’t believe that her carers failed to notice she was lying against a hot radiator and that she had suffered severe burns. We are absolutely shocked that Nestor Primecare Services Ltd has continued to deny liability for the injuries and that they have never apologised for what happened.” Sadly Jessie passed away in May 2013.

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Alliance wants Legislation to Improve Patient Safety in Hospitals

The Medical Injuries Alliance has called on politicians to fix a “glaringly obvious” problem that would help to improve patient safety in hospitals. The Medical Injuries Alliance is an organisation that helps patients who have suffered injuries due to mistakes in hospitals get answers about how the mistakes were made. Among the Alliance´s objectives is the promotion of studies into why mistakes occur, so that the results can be used to improve patient safety in hospitals. In order to meet this objective, the Alliance has frequently called on politicians to introduce laws that would force healthcare professionals to admit when mistakes have been made, to explain how they happened, and to issue an apology immediately. The “Duty of Candour” – the Alliance claims – would also accelerate the settlement of hospital negligence compensation claims. The Alliance has a statement on its website that reads “the duty of candour in hospitals and doctors should be placed on a statutory footing, entitling injured patients to an accurate account of how they came to suffer medical injury in Irish hospitals” and, to force the issue of patient safety in hospitals, the Alliance has now written a letter to the Irish Times. The letter was prompted by an article that appeared in the Irish Times that commented on a nine-year delay in the settlement of a cerebral palsy compensation claim. The paper wrote that the delay was due to alleged “stonewalling” by the Health Service Executive (HSE), pointed out that duty of candour laws were implemented in the UK last year, and that similar legislation is clearly needed in Ireland. The response by the Medical Injuries Alliance was much in agreement with the sentiments of the article and highlighted the necessity to improve patient safety in hospitals. Joice McCarthy – the Secretary of the Medical Injuries Alliance – wrote that many hospital negligence victims are forced to take legal action to get answers that healthcare professionals are reluctant to give. Ms McCarthy added that injured patients who have been through the legal process often found it to be a stressful and protracted experience; and she alluded to the recent “shabby episode” disagreement between the HSE and the State Claims Agency, in which both blamed the other for a six-year delay in settling a hospital negligence claim. Ms McCarthy concluded her letter: “Instead of blaming any particular State organisation, or indeed having different State organisations blame one another for the current difficulties, it is high time politicians simply acted to introduce a legal duty of candour in order to fix what seems to be a glaringly obvious problem”.

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Black Eye Claim for Compensation Settled in Court

The Circuit Civil Court has settled a black eye claim for compensation after hearing the circumstances of how a university student sustained her injury in an acupuncture training course. Forty-five year old Bernadette Poleon from Dunboyne, County Meath, volunteered in April 2010 to take part in an acupuncture training course that was being held at the Irish Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Dublin. One of the exercises during the training course involved a student inserting a needle below each of Bernadette´s eyes. After the student´s placement of the needles was examined by a course supervisor, the needle below Bernadette´s right eye was repositioned. Later the same day, the skin around Bernadette´s left eye became swollen and tender and, within two days, significant bruising had developed around the eye. The swelling and tenderness disappeared several days later, but the discolouring around Bernadette´s eye lasted a further seven weeks. After Bernadette also developed a sinus problem – for which she is still receiving treatment from her GP – she made a black eye claim for compensation against Bellfield Consultants Ltd, who are the owners of the Irish Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Bellfield Consultants Ltd contested the black eye claim for compensation and presented a full defence against the claim when court proceedings were issued. However, when the case was about to be heard by Judge Jacqueline Linnane at the Circuit Civil Court, the judge was told that – by consent – the case was now before her for the assessment of compensation only. After hearing how Bernadette had sustained her injury, and the embarrassment she experienced while the injury was still visible, the judge awarded Bernadette €6,000 in settlement of her black eye claim for compensation and costs.

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We Have Updated Our Medical Negligence Claims Information Page

We have updated our medical negligence claims information page so that it is more comprehensive than ever before and offers advice on the procedures that need to be completed prior to claiming compensation for medical negligence in Ireland. As ever, the information we provide about medical negligence claims is no substitute for speaking directly with an experienced solicitor and, if you believe that you – or somebody close to you – has suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition, which could have been prevented if you had received an acceptable standard of care, you are advised to discuss your individual situation with a solicitor without delay. You can visit our revised page containing medical negligence claims information by clicking on the link below: >> Medical Negligence Claims <<

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Failure in National Standards Could Lead to Hospital Infection Claims

More patients could be eligible to make hospital infection claims for compensation following health inspections at five Irish hospitals which were found to be in breach of the National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections. Inspectors from the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) made unannounced visits to several hospitals throughout Ireland in June and July and the reports of their inspections have just been made public. The reports reveal a catalogue of breaches in the National Standards which would make patients, visitors or staff who contracted an illness eligible to make hospital infection claims. The five hospitals in which there was a serious lack of hygiene among the medical and nursing staff were:- Waterford Regional Hospital Waterford Regional Hospital, in which inspectors discovered eighteen cases of poor hand hygiene among the twenty-three cases they looked at, patients with suspected transmittable diseases being treated in the general area of the Accident & Emergency Department and a general lack of cleanliness in the hospital A&E Department and the equipment that was used in the hospital. St Michael´s Hospital At St Michael´s Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, inspectors discovered two unhygienic temperature probes – one was visibly unclean and the second had a sticky residue on its screen – and that mould had been allowed to grow in the hospital´s toilets and showering facilities for patients. The inspectors also reported that hand hygiene practices in general posed a risk of transmitting infections to patients. Portiuncila Hospital At Portiuncila Hospital in Galway inspectors found that hospital infection claims could be justified for a number of reasons including problems with the physical environment, waste management and the cleanliness of medical equipment used on patients. Louth County Hospital Inspectors visiting Louth County Hospital discovered two cases of patients with known transmissible infections placed in isolation rooms with the doors left open onto the general ward and hand hygiene was again identified as an issue which could result in hospital infection claims, with inspectors recording in their report “The physical environment and equipment were generally unclean . . . and therefore were not effectively managed and maintained to protect patients and reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections.” Our Lady´s Hospital The Accident & Emergency Department at Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan was found to be generally unclean – with the patient toilets´ walls being described as “heavily stained” – and a high risk of infection was identified in the hospital´s female medical ward, where access to the storage room which contained syringes and needles was “uncontrolled”. Unacceptable Rob Landers – clinical director of Waterford Regional Hospital – described the findings in the report as “unacceptable” and said that compulsory hand hygiene training would be introduced for all workers at the hospital. Waterford Regional Hospital has been given six weeks to develop a quality improvement plan and publish it on the hospital website.

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Massive Rise in Hospital Compensation Settlements in 2010

According to details released by the State Claims Agency, it  has already paid out on fifth more in hospital compensation settlements during  the first eight months of the year compared with the calender year 2009. The State Claims Agency had already paid hospital compensation settlements of €59.9 million up to August 2010, compared to the 2009 total hospital compensation settlement payments of €48 million.  At the current progression,  the Agency will make compensation settlements of almost €90 million throughout 2010.  This is an increase of almost 50% on the previous year. Mary Harney, The Minister for Health, has revealed some measures to improve the safety of patients. Chief among these are draft healthcare standards formulated by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), which has now begun a public consultation phase. The Health Minster said that about 10% of hospital admissions encountered an ‘adverse event’, and about 1% of the these events would result in injury or death.  Commenting on the adverse events, the Minister Harney stated “Many of them are systemic failings and many of them are avoidable”. However, as with the recent DePuy recall, it should also be noted out that though the rate of adverse events in HSE run hospitals is relatively high, the HSE is not always to blame.

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Finnish Government Pays Compensation for Adverse Reaction to Flu Jab

The Finnish Government has started paying compensation for adverse reactions to the recipients of the swine flu vaccine Pandemrix who subsequently developed the sleeping disorder narcolepsy. The decision to compensate the families of children who contracted the condition was made after the National Institute for Health and Welfare produced a report in February 2011 concluding that an association existed between the vaccine against H1N1 swine flu and the diagnosis of narcolepsy in at least 50 children within an eight month period. To date, 92 people have made medical negligence claims for compensation from the 30 million Euro pool established by Finnish Medical Insurance but, as narcolepsy can be a lifelong condition which is passed on genetically to future generations, Kari Valimaki – the Finnish Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health – has stated that the fund to provide compensation for adverse reactions is unlikely to be insufficient, and that the State will have to step in when the pool is exhausted. The official reaction in Ireland – where 779 adverse reactions to Pandemrix were reported to the Irish Medicines Board between January 2010 and December 2011 – has been to wait until more research is concluded on the connection between the drug Pandemrix and narcolepsy. Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, responding to a question in the Dáil from Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, stated that “no link has been established yet between the swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy, but the Government will endeavour to ensure all families [of children diagnosed with narcolepsy] get the medical and social supports they need”. More than 250,000 children in Ireland received the Pandemrix H1N1 swine flu vaccine before it was withdrawn from use on advice from the European Medicine Agency (EMA). The EMA´s own study of adverse reactions to Pandemrix in 2011 concluded that a child who had been vaccinated with Pandemrix had a six-to-thirteen fold increased risk of narcolepsy compared with children who did not receive the vaccine.

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Family Agree Compensation for Cosmetic Surgery Fatality

The family of Kay Cregan – a mother of two from County Limerick who died on St Patrick´s Day in 2005 following a facelift procedure in New York – have agreed to a settlement of 3.1 million dollars in compensation for cosmetic surgery fatality with the insurers of  the negligent surgeon, anaesthesiologist and a post-operative care nurse. Kay (42) had flown to New York and paid plastic surgeon Dr Michael Sachs 32,000 dollars for the facelift procedure as a surprise for her husband, but her good intentions turned into tragedy when, as a result of the surgery, Kay started to bleed into her pharynx. It is believed that, because Kay was lying on her back at the time, the blood went to the back of her pharynx and clotted. When she later went to the bathroom unassisted the clot loosened, travelled down her trachea and prevented her from breathing. The nurse on duty, Susan Alonzo Francisco, found Kay motionless on the bathroom floor but did not know how to intubate her to enable air into her lungs. Eventually the nurse called the emergency services, but by the time Kay arrived at St. Luke´s Roosevelt Hospital little brain function could be found. Kay remained on a life support machine for two days before it was eventually switched off. Dr Sachs, Nurse Alonzo Francisco and the anaesthesiologist – Dr. Madhavrao Subbarao – were all named as defendants by Kay´s husband, Liam, in the resultant claim for cosmetic surgery fatality compensation. Dr Sachs for causing the initial bleed due to his negligence, nurse Alonzo Francisco for taking an unjustifiable length of time to call the emergency services and Dr Subbarao for leaving Kay in the care of a nurse who was unable to perform the intubation procedure. The agreement came five years after the tragedy, and shortly before a jury at the New York Supreme Court were to announce their verdict on how much compensation for cosmetic surgery fatality should be paid to husband Liam and Kay´s two sons.

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