What are the most common types of medical negligence claims?

Medical professionals at work



If you have suffered a personal injury as a result of medical malpractice, which is either physical or psychological in nature, you may be in a position to make a medical negligence claim. In order for the claim to be viable, however, the injury or trauma sustained must be as a result of negligent medical treatment or a distinct lack of care, rather than the outcome of an unsuccessful procedure or course of treatment.

In 2020 alone, medical negligence awards totalling close to €250 million were paid out by the State Claims Agency. Each year claims made under the category of ‘medical negligence’ cover a broad range of issues.

Some tend to be more unusual than others in nature. For example, you may meet a client who is under specialist care, whether it is neurologically oriented for stroke treatment or some form of cancer treatment, and they have not been appropriately treated.

More often than not, however, there are certain types of medical negligence claims that we, unfortunately, see cropping up time and time again, and these are the ones we will examine in this blog.

1. Pregnancy and birth injuries

In terms of the most common claims, those related to pregnancy and birth injuries tend to be at the top of the list. Circumstances will usually involve the mother or child becoming injured over the course of the perinatal period, either in the run-up to delivery itself or in the neonatal care phase. For a medical negligence claim to be warranted, the cause of the injury in question will be a direct result of flawed or inadequate medical treatment or care.

2. Failure to appropriately investigate and treat medical issues

A substantial number of medical negligence cases in this country arise when a patient’s complaint is met with insufficient investigation or treatment by a medical professional. This can be particularly evident in the context of cases that were assessed in an emergency setting. It could, for instance, be in relation to a patient that attended an accident and emergency department but was discharged without appropriate examination and follow-up. If the personal injury sustained was due to a lack of thorough professional vigilance on the part of the qualified individual overseeing care, a claim can be pursued.

3. Negligent medical advice and care

GP negligence is another common reason for a medical negligence claim to be brought forward. It may involve instances where a GP fails to refer their patient to a consultant if it’s warranted. Other cases may revolve around a GP that has been given specific instructions by a consultant to place a patient on a particular course of medication, and perhaps through administrative error, the medication may be continuously and unnecessarily repeated. This can be detrimental to the patient’s health.

4. Medical misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis

Whether it’s a straightforward issue that can be assessed by a GP or a more thorough analysis carried out by multiple professionals to get to the root of a problem, we frequently place our trust in the healthcare system to diagnose a broad range of medical conditions. However, when a diagnosis is missed completely, made in error, or significantly delayed, it not only breaks that trust but can also lead to serious personal injury or trauma. This forms the basis of many medical negligence claims in Ireland, in cases where it can be proven that the diagnostic error or delay and subsequent injury was as a result of care and attention that was below a satisfactory and expected level.

5. Surgical negligence or error

Cases that are based on surgical negligence or error can arise for a multitude of reasons. Some of the most common include the failure to remove a foreign object from the body after surgery; ineffective administration of anaesthesia; and causing excessive and unnecessary damage during the course of the procedure, such as puncturing an organ. Whether or not a claim has any basis will come down to the cause of injury; if it stemmed from matters outside of the surgeon’s control, it won’t hold up, but if it is as a result of negligent treatment or behaviour, it will likely be viable.

Seek advice from medical negligence specialists

If you wish to speak to a solicitor about a medical negligence claim, the best course of action is to seek advice from an expert in this field. As specialists in personalised medical negligence and personal injury cases, McCarthy + Co. Solicitors have attained many accolades over the course of our long history in bringing successful compensation claims for our clients.

Wherever you are in Ireland, our team of experienced solicitors are ready to talk to you about your case. Get in touch today to get the ball rolling.

In contentious business, a legal practitioner shall not charge any amount in respect of legal costs expressed as a percentage or proportion of any damages (or other moneys) that may become payable to his or her client or purport to set out the legal costs to be charged to a junior counsel as a specified percentage or proportion of the legal costs paid to a senior counsel. A legal practitioner shall not without the prior written agreement of his or her client deduct or appropriate any amount in respect of legal costs from the amount of any damages or moneys that become payable to the client in respect of legal services that the legal practitioner provided to the client.

John McCarthy specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims. His practice focuses on high-value compensation cases. John qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and holds a diploma in civil litigation. This specialist qualification in the area of personal injury and medical negligence litigation, is awarded by the Law Society of Ireland.