Is it too late to make a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation if the operation in which the error occurred was more than two years ago?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Inasmuch as the Statute of Limitations places a time limit of two years on initiating a compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation, the time limit for making compensation claims for items left inside during a medical procedure does not begin until the ‘date of knowledge’ that an injury has been sustained due to the negligence of a medical practitioner.

As injuries from items left in a patient may take a considerable time to manifest – especially ‘gossypiboma’ type injuries, due to a sponge or towel being left inside a patient – the ‘date of knowledge’ could be many years after a surgical procedure has taken place and the error occurring. However, there are several points that you should bear in mind before claiming compensation for an item left behind in a patient.

  • In order for claims for items left inside during a medical procedure to be justifiable, you must have sustained an injury which was directly attributable to the negligence of a medical practitioner.
  • If you have not sustained a diagnosed injury, but only had the item left inside identified on a later scan or ultrasound, there will be no grounds to claim compensation for injuries from items left in a patient.
  • There is no defence against compensation claims for items left inside during a medical procedure. There will, however, still have to be an HSE investigation to discover how the error occurred.

How much compensation for an item left behind in a patient you receive will be assessed in relation to the level of injury you have sustained and any future consequences to your health. If the injury you sustained was minimal, this will reflect in the settlement of your compensation claim for an item left inside during an operation.

It is recommended that you discuss your eligibility to claim compensation for an item left behind in a patient with a medical negligence solicitor to ascertain that you are entitled to claim compensation for injuries from items left in a patient and to establish that you have a claim that is within the Statute of Limitations and that is worth your while to pursue.

We suggest that, as it is a considerable amount of time since the original error occurred, you speak with a solicitor without delay.