Is it possible to make hospital medical negligence claims if my treatment for breast cancer was delayed because of an administrative error?
Your eligibility to make hospital medical negligence claims due to an administrative error is going to depend on the length of the delay you experienced in treatment and whether you suffered a deterioration of your condition because of it. Inasmuch as the hospital may have delivered a poor professional performance in respect of its duty of care to provide you with the best possible treatment, the hospital’s delay alone does not qualify you to receive compensation for hospital medical negligence.
In your specific case, for hospital medical negligence claims to be successful, it also has to be demonstrated that you suffered a quantifiable deterioration of your condition which – had the delay been avoided – would not have occurred. Consequently, you would need to undergo an examination by a specialist oncologist to establish that you have sustained a preventable injury which entitles you to make a claim for hospital medical negligence.
Once negligence and injury are established, hospital medical negligence claims should account for the emotional trauma you have no doubt been through, future care costs and the reduced life expectancy you will have due to the administrative error. However, as hospital medical negligence claims are resolved by medical opinion rather than tangible evidence, the Injuries Board Ireland will decline to assess any application you submit to them and you will need a solicitor to pursue your claim for hospital medical negligence.
A potential complication exists with your hospital medical negligence claim for compensation if you knew that you should have been scheduled for treatment but chose not to enquire why an appointment had not been received. Inasmuch as it is understandable that you may try to avoid the subject of your breast cancer whenever possible, the hospital could claim that you contributed to the severity of your injury by your own lack of care, and although your contributory negligence should not disqualify you from making a claim, it may affect how much compensation for hospital medical negligence you receive.
In terms of the time that you have available to make a hospital medical negligence claim for compensation, two years are allowed from the date on which it is determined that you have suffered a deterioration of your condition in which to make hospital medical negligence claims. Although you do not know yet that you have suffered an injury due to hospital medical negligence, ideally you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible to discuss the delay in treatment you experienced while the evidence of negligence is still available.
You will need to tell the solicitor how you discovered the delay was due an administrative error and advise him or her whether you deliberately refrained from enquiring about your treatment. Once the solicitor feels that you may have a claim for hospital medical negligence which is worth your while to pursue, he or she will arrange for the examination by the oncologist and – once an injury due to hospital medical negligence has been confirmed – will try to negotiate a swift settlement of your claim with the hospital’s insurers.