What is involved in making a claim for a surgeon performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Because every claim for a surgeon performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient is different, it would be better to discuss the specific circumstances of the medical error directly with a solicitor. However, as a general guide:-

When you first speak with a solicitor, he or she will listen as you explain the surgical procedure you were supposed to undergo, what treatment you actually received and what explanation (if any) has been given to you for the error being made.

As it may not necessarily be the surgeon who is at fault for performing the incorrect surgical procedure if he or she was given the wrong information, your solicitor will then write to every medical practitioner and member of the support team that were involved in your operation to obtain their notes in relation to the procedure you underwent.

Your solicitor will also send a ‘Letter of Complaint’ on your behalf to the HSE (or private clinic in which you underwent the procedure) if you have not already done so.

The notes and any feedback from the ‘Letter of Complaint’ will be analysed by a medical expert to determine where in the chain of events the error in your treatment was made and provide that information to your solicitor; who will then confirm with you that you wish to proceed with a claim for an injury due to an incorrect medical procedure before sending a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the hospital at which you underwent the wrong surgical procedure.

Please note that the Injuries Board is not involved at any stage of making a claim for a surgeon performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient, as assessing claims for compensation for surgical negligence does not fall with their remit.

If there is a delay in the HSE (or private clinic) acknowledging their mistake, your solicitor will issue court proceedings. However, a court appearance is not usually required as there is little justifiable defence against a claim for an injury due to an incorrect medical procedure being performed and your claim should be resolved quickly.

Most of the work involved in making a claim for a surgeon performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient is done by your solicitor and the medical expert he or she engages. Therefore, you should have no concerns about stepping into unknown territory if you wish to claim compensation for surgical negligence.

However, as mentioned above, it would be better to discuss the specific circumstances of the medical error directly with a solicitor and as soon as possible; for although you have a year in which to send the ‘Letter of Complaint’, compiling the evidence to support a claim for an injury due to an incorrect medical procedure being performed can be a time-consuming process.