I contracted an infection after I underwent a surgical procedure last year, but was told that I may not be entitled to claim compensation for an infection after an operation. Is that possible, because I did not go into hospital with the infection?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Answer:

Even though you may have developed an infection after a surgical procedure in a hospital, it does not necessarily mean you are entitled to claim compensation for an infection after an operation. Some infections occur naturally as a response to surgery, and harmful bacteria which may have been responsible for your infection could even have been introduced into your immediate environment by visitors coming to see you while you were recovering.

Only if it can be confirmed that your infection after the surgical procedure was attributable to unhygienic working practices within the hospital, or a lapse by one of the medical staff caring for you, will it be possible to claim compensation for an infection after an operation.
It also has to be considered whether the infection you developed caused you any significant injury or delayed your recovery, for not only is it necessary to establish that negligence has occurred which resulted in you developing an infection, it also has to be determined that the infection resulted in a “negative event”.

Establishing that the hospital was guilty of unhygienic working practices and that “on the balance of probabilities” you sustained an injury due to the hospital´s negligence is going to be difficult one year after the infection developed; but it could be worth discussing the your hospital stay – and especially your convalescence – with an experienced medical negligence solicitor.

After discussing the level of care you received at the hospital, the solicitor will ascertain whether you have a claim for an infection after an operation which is worth your while to pursue by engaging the services of a clinical expert to review your relevant medical history with the aim of identifying the source of the infection.

If it is discovered that you developed an infection which “on the balance of probabilities” could have been avoided with greater care by the hospital, your solicitor will compile a Letter of Claim to the hospital and provide evidence of the hospital´s negligence in support of your claim for compensation for an infection after an operation,
In the event that liability is admitted, how much compensation for an infection after an operation you will be entitle to will depend on the nature and severity of the infection, what consequences it made to your quality of life – both while still at the hospital and after your discharge home – and whether it may cause long term health issues in the future.

You will also be able to recover any quantifiable expenses you have incurred that are attributable to the infection – for example any loss of income you experienced if you were unable to work, additional prescription costs or care requirements and the cost of pursuing a claim for compensation for an infection after an operation.

As yours is a particularly complicated compensation claim for an infection after an operation, it is advised that you speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.