Medical Negligence Claims – The Practical Steps
In order to pursue a claim for medical negligence in Ireland, you must have expert reports from suitably qualified doctors/consultants.
The first step is to obtain your medical records which involves signing letters of authority addressed to each treating doctor / hospital. A detailed statement is also taken from you regarding what happened. The medical records are shared with the Defendant with the consent of the patient.
There are 3 categories of expert report required as follows:
- Breach of Duty – this is a report from a doctor of like qualification who will be asked to provide an opinion on negligence or breach of duty i.e. that the standard of care provided fell short of what would be expected of a reasonable doctor of like speciality;
- Causation – this is a report from a specialist in the relevant area of medicine to give an opinion on the link between the breach of duty and the injuries or ultimate outcome. There may have been a breach of duty, but if this did not adversely affect you, then there may not be a stateable case. Such an example would be a delay in diagnosis where the delay had no material impact on the patients ultimate outcome;
- Condition / Prognosis (quantum reports) – these are reports commissioned to quantify the claim and can vary from case to case depending on the circumstances.
All 3 of the above categories must produce supportive reports in order to pursue a stateable case to court. These reports can be expensive and are payable up front by the patient. The experts may be based in Ireland or the UK. The costs for the reports are generally recoverable if the case settles or if you succeed in your claim in court.
The Defendant will also be obliged to obtain their own expert reports if they wish to formally defend the claim. If they cannot obtain supportive reports for Breach of Duty and Causation, they may concede either or both points and the only issue may be quantum i.e. the value of the case, to include general damages for pain and suffering and special damages (out of pocket expenses to include loss of earnings, medical bills etc).
If you have any queries on medical negligence or litigation generally, please do not hesitate to contact Niall MacCarthy or Brendan Dillon of this office on 01 2960666 or firstname.lastname@example.org