Does it take a long time to claim compensation for a wrong finger amputation?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

The actual process to claim compensation for a wrong finger amputation is very straightforward; as there is no defence against a claim for amputating the wrong finger, and therefore it is only a question of determining how the mistake came to be made, rather than having to prove that the amputation of your wrong finger was a negligent act – which undoubtedly it was.

After discussing with a solicitor you why you were having a finger amputated, the location of the finger which should have been amputated and which finger was actually removed, your solicitor will compose a letter of complaint to the hospital at which the negligent procedure took place and also a letter to each medical practitioner involved in your surgery, requesting their notes from your procedure.

It may not be the surgeon in charge of the operation who is the negligent party in claims for the amputation of the wrong finger, as support staff or even administrators who prepared the procedure notes could have made the vital error which led to the wrong finger being amputated. The notes and any feedback from the letter of complaint will be analysed by a medical expert to ascertain how the mistake was made, and he or she will provide your solicitor with the evidence of negligence your solicitor needs to support a ‘Letter of Claim’.

This ‘Letter of Claim’ is then sent to the hospital or clinic at which your wrong site surgery occurred – advising them that you are making a claim for amputating the wrong finger. If an admission of liability is not received in a reasonable amount of time, your solicitor will issue court proceedings against the HSE; which will usually bring the hospital to the negotiating table to settle your claim for amputating the wrong finger – as there is no likelihood of defending your claim successfully.

However, rather than taking a long time to claim compensation for a wrong finger amputation, it might actually be the resolution of your claim which is a slow process; and not even because of the reticence of the HSE to admit liability or agree a settlement of your claim for amputating the wrong finger.

For most people, the reason for making claims for the amputation of the wrong finger is to recover compensation for the trauma they are going to suffer when the finger which should have been removed originally is amputated, for the subsequent deterioration in their quality of life (it is much harder to get by with two fingers amputated than just one) and because of the income that may be lost due to somebody else´s negligence.

Whereas you might be able to cope quite well with the second operation and non-financial changes to your life (it is impossible to speculate on the financial changes to your life without speaking with a solicitor), the emotional injury you sustain due to your hospital´s negligence may take months or years to manifest – even if you have prosthetic fingers attached which help you get by on a day-to-day basis.

Without knowing the full consequences of your injury, your solicitor will delay entering into negotiations to settle your claim for amputating the wrong finger – but you should not let this worry you. Provided the claim is made within two years of the medical error being made, it does not matter how long it takes to resolve your claim for compensation for a wrong finger amputation, as liability is not in doubt and your solicitor can apply for interim payments of compensation is short-term finances are a concern to you.

What does matter is that you receive a full and adequate settlement of your claim for amputating the wrong finger and, in order to get the process started, it is recommended that you speak with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity.