Is it possible for my father to make a compensation claim for surgical complications due to developing pneumonia after his lung partially collapsed during surgery?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Making a compensation claim for surgical complications in these circumstances may be complicated; as it has to be proven not only that the treatment your father received “at the time and in the circumstances” of his surgery was negligent and led to a partially collapsed lung, but also that he would not have developed pneumonia were it not for the injury he received during surgery.

Without knowing more about the procedure that your father was undergoing, and any pre-existing conditions which may have resulted in a partially collapsed lung during surgery or the development of pneumonia, it is impossible to state whether a surgical complication injury compensation claim would be successful.

However, as your father developed an illness following surgery which should have been identified by the post-operative medical care team, there may be grounds to make a claim for negligent post-op care if it can be established that your father´s condition deteriorated due to a delayed diagnosis of pneumonia or the failure to act once pneumonia had been diagnosed.

Even if the partially collapsed lung injury could not have been avoided due to the procedure your father was undergoing, once surgeons had identified that there could have been the risk of pneumonia due to atelectasis, your father should have been placed in a specialised care unit and monitored to ensure he did not develop the condition.

Therefore, depending on your father´s current condition, the first step in establishing whether you have a justifiable compensation claim for surgical complications is to speak with a solicitor and discuss the points mentioned above in respect of the surgical procedure your father underwent, any pre-existing conditions which may have contributed to his injuries and the post-operative care he received.

The solicitor will help you (or your father) compile a ‘Letter of Complaint’ to the Health Service Executive (HSE) to find out more information about why your father´s injuries occurred and if they could have been prevented with a greater level of care. Should the HSE´s complaints officer provide information which could lead to a successful surgical complication injury compensation claim or claim for negligent post-op care, the solicitor will discuss with you and your father whether you wish to proceed with a claim for injury compensation and, if so, explain the procedures for making a claim in relation to your father´s own personal circumstances.

Making a surgical complication injury compensation claim can be a time-consuming process as well as a complicated one. It is therefore recommended that you speak with a personal injury solicitor at the first practical opportunity to ensure that evidence of any negligence is compiled as soon as possible.