It is possible for me to claim compensation for swabs left in a patient after a surgical procedure if I developed an infection due to a medical practitioner´s negligence? If so, how much would I get?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

If you developed an infection due to a medical practitioner´s failure to remove swabs during a surgical procedure, you should be entitled to claim compensation for swabs left in a patient. However, as the Injuries Board Ireland decline any applications for assessment which concern the negligence of a medical practitioner, you will need to use the services of an experienced medical negligence solicitor to pursue your claim.

A solicitor will request your permission to have access to your medical history and – with the assistance of a surgical expert – conduct a review of your operation to determine the negligent medical practitioner(s) and to confirm that your injury was directly caused by that medical practitioner´s negligence.

Once liability and injury have been confirmed, your solicitor would sent a Letter of Claim to the negligent medical practitioner, advising him or her that a claim for compensation for swabs being left in a patient was being made against them and supporting it with the evidence collected by the surgical expert.

In cases such as these, liability for your injuries should be acknowledged reasonably quickly and your solicitor will then get in touch with the negligent medical practitioner´s insurance company to negotiate a settlement of your claim. How much compensation for swabs left in a patient you are likely to receive will depend on the severity of the infection you developed, the impact it had on your quality of life and any financial costs you incurred – for example loss of income – due to the avoidable injury.

Once liability has been acknowledged, you may be approached directly by the medical practitioner´s insurance company with an offer of compensation for swabs left inside a patient. These offers are generally much lower than your solicitor should be able to negotiate for you, but are made directly with the promise of a quick settlement if the offer is accepted.

Although it may be tempting to agree to the insurance company´s offer, should you be concerned about short-term finances, you should always refer direct approaches to your solicitor. As the insurance company have effectively confirmed their client´s liability, your solicitor will be able to apply to the courts for interim payments of compensation for swabs left inside a patient to be paid to you until such time as your claim is satisfactorily resolved.

Although making a claim for compensation for swabs left inside a patient should not be complicated, it is still in your best interests to speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor at the earliest practical opportunity.