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Surgical Error Claims

Surgical error claims relate to claiming compensation for any loss, injury or avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to medical negligence.

Claiming compensation for an adverse event due to medical negligence can be a complicated procedure as it has to be established that “at the time and in the circumstances” a competent medical professional would not have made the same error.

However, surgical error claims are not exclusive to damage done during major surgery. If you have suffered any avoidable injury during any medical procedure – no matter how minor – you may be entitled to make surgical error claims for compensation.

Speak with a medical negligence solicitor today to discover whether you qualify for compensation and, if so, to establish the process for making surgical error claims in your particular circumstances.

Eligibility to Claim for an Injury from a Lip Filler Procedure

Your eligibility to claim for an injury from a lip filler procedure can vary according to the information you were given – and you gave – prior to the procedure. Other than a little bleeding, swelling or numbness immediately after a lip filler procedure, serious injuries from this type of cosmetic surgery are rare in Ireland. Occasionally infections develop, but these can be quickly treated with no long lasting effects. If you were to be one of the rare cases in Ireland in which a serious adverse event has occurred, you may be eligible to claim for an injury from a lip filler procedure. However, your eligibility to make a claim could depend on what you were told prior to the procedure – and what information you imparted. In Ireland, if you are over eighteen years of age, you are required to sign a consent form before you undergo any type of cosmetic surgery. When you sign the consent form, you are acknowledging there are risks involved in the surgery and you accept those risks. If the injury you sustained was one of the risks you had been advised of – or you suffered an allergic reaction due to failing to disclose information about yourself – it is unlikely a claim for an injury from a lip filler procedure will be successful. If you sustained an injury you were not advised was a “habitual risk”, you will likely be eligible for compensation subject to your solicitor being able to demonstrate that “in the circumstances and at the time” the action or lack of action responsible for the injury was avoidable and due to a lack of care. In order to support your claim for an injury from a lip filler procedure, your solicitor will engage the services of a medical expert. The expert will not only support the claim, but also help your solicitor determine the level of compensation you are entitled to. Compensation settlements for injuries caused during lip filler procedures can differ considerably. Contributing factors include the nature of the injury, whether it can be reversed, your age, your sex, and the impact the injury has had on your quality of life. These consequence can vary considerably and, as you cannot apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment of your claim, it is always in your best interests to discuss your injury with a solicitor – firstly to establish that you are eligible to claim for an injury from a lip filler procedure, and secondly to ensure your claim is settled for a fair amount.

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Judge Awards Compensation for a Botched Laparoscopy

A High Court judge has awarded a woman who lost eight pints of blood during a hospital procedure more than €855,000 compensation for a botched laparoscopy. On June 4th, 2002, the fifty-year-old plaintiff from Portlaoise in County Laoise attended the Midland Regional Hospital for a routine laparoscopy to help determine why she was unable to get pregnant. In order to perform a telescopic examination, a trocar was inserted into her abdomen. Unfortunately, the surgical instrument tore an artery and punctured a vein as it was being inserted, causing the woman to lose eight pints of blood. The woman was rushed into intensive care, where she was put on a ventilator and spent two days on life support. She remained in hospital for six days and – due to the medical negligence of her consultant obstetrician Dr John Corristine – continues to experience pain in her abdomen. Following her recovery from her experience, the woman sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a botched laparoscopy. In her claim it was alleged there had been a failure to take adequate precautions for her safety and that there had been a failure to check that the equipment used during the procedure was in a good and proper working order. The HSE acknowledged liability for the botched procedure, her initial pain and suffering and the scars that remain from her treatment, but contested the ongoing abdomen pain was a consequence of the negligent laparoscopy. At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard medical evidence that the botched laparoscopy was not only responsible for the plaintiff´s ongoing pain and suffering, but that her condition may deteriorate in the future as a direct result. The judge said the woman´s quality of life had been significantly impaired as a result of what had happened, and although the consequences of the medical negligence were not catastrophic, they were “very serious”. The judge awarded the woman €855,793 compensation for a botched laparoscopy.

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Claim for Brain Damage due to Negligent Surgery Heard in Court

The details of a claim for brain damage due to negligence surgery have been heard in the High Court prior to the approval of an interim settlement. Jude Miley was born on 16th July 2011. In January 2012 Jude was diagnosed with a condition affecting the contour of his diaphragm and he underwent surgery at Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children to assist his breathing. Unfortunately, a suture used in the operation was left untied and, due to its proximity to Jude´s heart, damaged the organ every time Jude took a breath. Two days after the operation, Jude went into cardiac arrest – suffering brain damage when his brain was starved of oxygen. On his son´s behalf, Greville Miley – from Dundrum in Dublin – made a claim for brain damage due to negligent surgery against the hospital; alleging that the suture had been placed without the surgeon having sight of the heart and other vital organs. Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children only admitted liability for Jude´s injury last year – originally contesting the claim for brain damage due to negligent surgery on the grounds that the risk of cardiac arrest was a known risk of the surgery, and nothing could be done about it. As Mr Justice Anthony Barr heard at the High Court earlier this week, Jude´s parents were also excluded from the hospital´s internal investigation after being asked to be kept informed of any developments. Both Greville and Anne Louise subsequently had to give up their jobs to care for their son. However, once the hospital had admitted liability, an interim settlement of the claim for brain damage due to negligent heart surgery amounting to €1.8 million was agreed. This interim settlement will allow the family to buy a suitable home to raise Jude and compensate Greville and Anne Louise for their loss of income. Judge Barr approved the interim settlement of compensation and adjourned the case for an assessment of Jude´s future needs to be made.

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Claim for a Retained Swab during Childbirth Resolved

A claim for a retained swab during childbirth has been resolved at the High Court with the award of €117,000 compensation to the injured mother. On 22nd April 2013, Sarah Daly (38) from Rathfarnham in Dublin gave birth to a healthy child at the Mount Carmel Hospital. Three days later, Sarah was taken back to the hospital by her husband in extreme pain. No internal examination was conducted for a further three days, when a swab “the size of a plum” was discovered and removed. However, as the swab was removed without any antibiotics being prescribed, Sarah developed a significant infection which caused her further pain and discomfort. Sarah made a claim for a retained swab during childbirth against consultant Valerie Donnelly and Charles Julian Dockeray – who had managed the delivery and was standing in for Ms Donnelly – alleging that the swab was wrongfully inserted, that the presence of the swab was not identified for three days after she presented at hospital, and that she was discharged without antibiotics, resulting in an infection. Liability was admitted by the medical professionals and the claim for a retained swab during childbirth went to the High Court for the assessment of damages. At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said what ought to have been a very joyous occasion for Sarah had become something that will live with her for the rest of her life. The judge awarded Sarah €117,000 in settlement of her claim, commenting that the award was “fair and reasonable”. The judge added that the size of the award represented the hospital´s negligence in failing to conduct an internal examination when Sarah first complained three days after the birth of her child. Had the swab been detected immediately, Sarah would not have developed the subsequent infection. Note: Normally a claim for a retained swab during childbirth would not warrant this level of compensation. As Mr Justice Kevin Cross noted, Sarah sustained a series of avoidable injuries and the amount of the compensation awarded to Sarah reflects the injuries she sustained, rather than the level of negligence demonstrated by the hospital´s medical professionals.

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Claim for a Fatal Delay in Identifying Surgical Complications

A family from West Yorkshire is to receive a six-figure out-of-court settlement following a claim for a fatal delay in identifying surgical complications. On 28th April 2009, thirty-eight year old Tracy Hall was admitted to the Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield for the reversal of a stoma. The elective surgery took nine hours to complete, after which Tracy suffered complications including internal bleeding and an infection. Tracy´s condition continued to deteriorate and, on 4th May, nursing staff identified blood in her stoma bag. Tracy was returned to theatre, where it was discovered that an artery had been cut during surgery and that the cause of the blood was that her abdominal wall had burst. Tracy had been diagnosed with Crohn´s disease in 1996 and, prior to her surgery, her condition had been particularly active. She had suffered from abdominal pain and lost nearly three stones in weight in the months leading up to her operation. In a very weak condition, Tracy was moved into the hospital´s High Dependency Unit. She was sedated and put onto a life support machine, but tragically died eight days later from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis. Tracy´s husband instructed medical negligence solicitors to investigate the care his wife had received subsequent to her surgery. The solicitors discovered that there had be a delay in identifying and treating the complications and that, due to Tracy´s condition prior to the operation, surgery should not have even taken place. Tracy´s husband subsequently made a claim for a fatal delay in identifying surgical complications against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. The NHS Trust admitted that the standard of care Tracy received both before and after her surgery were sub-standard, and a six-figure settlement of the claim was negotiated. Speaking after the claim for a fatal delay in identifying surgical complications had been resolved, Tracy´s mother told reporters: “We have been completely heartbroken since losing Tracy – it was incredibly difficult for the whole family to see her suffer like she did and deteriorate so quickly in front of our eyes. We never imagined that just two weeks after surgery she would no longer be with us. I just hope that this doesn’t happen to any other families and that the NHS Trust learns from its mistakes.”

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Seven Women Claim Compensation for Negligent Hysterectomies

Seven women are claiming compensation for negligent hysterectomies against a gynaecologist who was found to have delivered a poor professional performance. On Thursday, the Medical Council´s Fitness to Practise Committee found gynaecologist Dr Peter Van Greene guilty of failing to deliver a poor professional performance while having responsibility for the care of Helen Cruise – a sixty-one year old patient who had undergone a hysterectomy at the Aut Even private hospital in Kilkenny. During the hearing, the Committee heard testimonies from Helen and three other women who had been treated by Dr Van Greene. During Helen´s testimony it was revealed that, after undergoing her operation, she had needed six units of blood due to excessive post-operative bleeding. It was also claimed that – due to the doctor´s poor professional performance – Helen has suffered from depression ever since. Helen also told the Committee hearing Dr Van Greene had only explained the procedure she was about to undergo – and the risks involved with a hysterectomy – while already in the theatre and after she had been administered with a spinal anaesthetic. Although Dr Van Greene denied the allegations, he did admit to not obtaining Helen´s informed consent in a stress-free environment. The Committee found that Dr Van Greene was guilty of a poor professional performance for failing to obtain Helen´s informed consent prior to her hysterectomy and for communicating with her in an inappropriate manner during a post-surgery conversation with her. The committee has not yet revealed what sanctions it will impose on Dr Van Greene, and these could include a fine or being struck off the medical register. It was also revealed during the hearing that Dr Van Greene is currently unemployed – having last worked at the Whitfield Clinic in Waterford – and filed for bankruptcy in the UK in January this year. His bankrupt status will not prevent the women from recovering compensation for negligent hysterectomies as, if the claims are successful, the settlement of the claims will be paid by Dr Van Greene´s medical indemnity insurance company.

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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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Claim for Brain Damage due to Surgical Negligence Heard in High Court – Again

A judge will decide on the final settlement of a claim for brain damage due to surgical negligence after approving a third interim compensation payment. In November 2001, Eoin O´Mahony was just nineteen years of age and a Leaving Certificate student when he was referred to the Cork University Hospital complaining of headaches. Eoin underwent brain surgery on 23rd November to reduce the pressure on his brain and a second procedure on 30th November to remove part of a tumour that had been discovered. Due to surgical errors during the operations, Eoin lapsed into a coma on 1st December. When he came round from the coma, Eoin was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome – a condition in which a patient is fully aware of his or her surroundings, but is unable to move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all the voluntary muscles in the body. The Cork University Hospital acknowledge liability for Eoin´s brain damage in 2009, and two interim compensation payments amounting to €4.1 million have been paid to his parents while the courts have been waiting for a structured periodic payment system being introduced. On this occasion, Eoin´s parents requested a lump sum final settlement of the claim for brain damage due to surgical negligence as they have already endured thirteen years of litigation on their son´s behalf. At the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty agreed to their request; but after nineteen days of hearings – during which reports concerning Eoin´s future requirements were discussed – no agreement could be reached on a final settlement. Mr Justice Michael Moriarty instructed the parties that a final settlement should be between €10 million and €10.1 and briefly adjourned the hearing to allow for negotiations to continue out of court. When the hearing resumed, Eoin´s legal team advised Judge Moriarty that the family had been prepared to split the difference in the figures that the judge had quoted as the family wanted to resolve the claim for brain damage due to surgical negligence once and for all – but the State Claims Agency would not agree to this arrangement. The judge said that he would make a decision on the final settlement of the claim for brain damage due to surgical negligence, and promised the family that they would know his decision no later than October. Judge Moriarty then instructed the State Claims Agency to make a third interim compensation payment of €800,000 to cover the medical and care costs that Eoin´s family would incur in the intervening period.

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