A GP is often the first point of contact for a patient seeking medical attention. The GP’s role is to appropriately identify signs of disease or injury and to make necessary referrals for further investigations in a timely manner. The standard of GP care in Ireland is very good. However, when that standard of care falls below the standard expected of a GP, the consequences can be devastating for patients and their families. Examples of scenarios which might give rise to a claim for negligence against a GP:
Failure to recognise signs of a disease, such as cancer, in a timely manner, or at all
Failure to make a referral for further investigations in a timely manner, or at all
Failure to make a referral for Specialist care
Failure to make a referral to the Accident & Emergency Department where necessary
Failure to recognise signs of meningitis
Failure to recognise signs of stroke/brain haemorrhage
Failure to recognise signs of sepsis
Failure to perform necessary blood, or other diagnostic, tests
Failure to properly interpret the findings of blood, or other diagnostic tests
Failure to make referrals for x-ray, or other necessary radiological investigations
Failure to recognise symptoms of skin cancer
Failure to arrange follow up care for symptoms of skin cancer
Failure to recognise signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome
You may have grounds for a claim for compensation where it can be established: That the care afforded to you by your GP fell below the standard expected of a GP and you suffered injury as a result of the substandard care.
This is the standard test for professional negligence, to include medical negligence and a claim will not be successful unless both limbs of the test are satisfied. The second element of the test is referred to in legal terms as causation. It can be difficult to establish causation in medical negligence cases because obviously, the person had an injury, or ailment to begin with. This is the very reason they presented for care. In order to establish causation, it must be established, at a very minimum, that the substandard treatment complained of ‘materially contributed’ to the patient’s injury. A more preferable scenario would be that medical evidence establishes that ‘but for’ the substandard care complained of, the injury would have been avoided. Examples of causation, or the adverse consequences of substandard treatment, in GP Claims include:
The necessity for more invasive treatment- in delayed cancer diagnosis, patients might require surgery, or chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy which would have been avoided ‘but for’ the delayed diagnosis
The availability of palliative care options only where curative options would have been available had a more timely diagnosis been made
Catastrophic injuries due to failure to diagnose symptoms of stroke or meningitis
Permanent disability due to failure to recognise symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome
Strict time limits apply to medical negligence cases. Generally speaking, a claim must be initiated within two years of the date of injury. There are some exceptions but given the preparatory work involved prior to initiation of a medical negligence claim, time is very much of the essence and you ought seek legal advices as a matter of priority. If you believe that you have suffered injury due an error on the part of your GP, contact Brigid to arrange a consultation.
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Get In Touch
If you believe that you have suffered injury due an error on the part of your GP, contact Brigid O’Donnell Solicitors, based in Tipperary, to arrange a consultation. We can facilitate a consultation at a time and place convenient for you.
Often, a GP will be the first point of contact for a patient presenting with a medical complaint or ailment. The GP's role is to appropriately identify signs of disease or injury and to make the necessary referrals for further investigations, where necessary, in a timely manner.
The standard of surgical care in Ireland is very high. Medical advances mean that surgeries which would previously have been deemed 'cutting edge' are now common practice and as a result, people are living longer, more active lives.
Prior to establishing Brigid O’Donnell Solicitors, a boutique litigation firm, Brigid spent 15 years working with other leading plaintiff litigation firms across Munster managing a large portfolio of complex, high value litigation cases.