Claims against GP: How do I bring a claim against my GP?

Claims against GP: How do I bring a claim against my GP?

General practice claims result from medical negligence by a general practitioner (GP). We have successfully pursued cases against GPs for negligence.

Many people are reluctant to pursue a claim against their GP through loyalty or concern over future treatment. But the impact of GP negligence and the need for care and financial assistance can be similar to hospital negligence.

What types of GP claims can be brought?

  • Failure to investigate symptoms
  • Failure to refer urgently, for example in the case of meningitis or cardiac arrest
  • Failure to refer to a specialist for investigation or treatment
  • Failure to attend on a home visit
  • Failure to act on test results
  • Inappropriate prescribing of drugs or failure to review medication
  • Failure to take your medical history into account
  • Failure to conduct an adequate examination
  • Failure to diagnose a condition

What is general practitioner negligence?

Any claim for General Practitioner negligence has to show that your General Practitioner (GP) did not have the skill – or was not able to demonstrate the skill – to diagnose your symptoms “at the time and in those circumstances”.

In failure to refer it may be that had your GP referred you to a specialist, the specialist would have been able to identify your symptoms and treat them accordingly. We then need to establish that because your GP did not refer you to a specialist, you suffered the avoidable and quantifiable deterioration of a physical condition.

We have also successfully brought claims in circumstances where a GP did not take into consideration that the patient was a diabetic and therefore at higher risk of infection and complications following treatment.

Whom Can I Claim Against?

In private care, the GP and the Practice Nurse is usually self-employed and will carry their own insurance. In some public primary care settings the practitioner may be covered by the Clinical Indemnity Scheme.

The Medical Practitioners Act 2007 includes GPs and Practice Nurses as legally recognised medical practitioners in Ireland. They are required to practice to the highest medical standard. Because GPs and Practice Nurses are considered medical practitioners, you will have to pursue your claim through a solicitor, as it will not go through the Injuries Board.

How long do I have to bring a claim?

The time limit for GP negligence claim is generally two years from the time of the alleged negligence. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Read on to find out more about the statute of limitations in respect of medical negligence claims.

Exceptions for Medical Negligence Legal Time Limits In Ireland

A patient may not be aware on the date of the alleged negligence that any negligence occurred. The person then arguably has two years less one day from the date of discovery of the alleged negligence. This could, for example, occur at a follow-up appointment when the patient discovers information about the origin of the negligence. Or indeed, it may not occur until the patient is in possession of a copy of his or her medical records. It is important to note that the date of discovery is the date the victim has constructive knowledge of the alleged medical negligence, in other words, when the victim should have known about it.

How to Make a Claim against my GP?

If you are unhappy with the treatment that you have from your GP or Practice Nurse, you may wish to contact a solicitor who is an expert in the field of medical negligence to investigate your case. You should always consult with a solicitor who has expertise in the area of medical negligence as this is a complex area of law, and you should be led by someone with expertise.

  1. The first thing we will do is arrange for you to come in and meet us for a consultation. We will take down the history of treatment and your complaints. We will then advise you whether it is worth pursing a claim.
  2. The next thing we will do is take up a copy of your GP records, and where necessary your other medical records. We have the experience and expertise to review the records and give you a preliminary opinion on whether you are likely to establish a case of GP negligence.
  3. If we are of the opinion that there may have been negligence on the part of the practitioner who treated you we will instruct an independent expert to carry out a report to consider whether the treatment that you have received is below the standard of care that should normally be applied.

Establishing Negligence

GP negligence means that the treatment that you received is below the standard of care that one would ordinarily expect to see that a patient should receive from a GP and / or Practice Nurse. If the independent expert report supports this opinion then you are entitled to bring a claim for negligence, however it is also necessary to show that you suffered an injury because of the negligence, and this is known as causation.

Establishing Causation

It must then be considered that due to the negligent medical treatment that you have received your recovery has been delayed or you have suffered further injury and sustained a loss. The Expert Report will also need to support this.

Before issuing proceedings in a GP negligence claim, we must have a positive independent expert report from a practitioner of equal specialisation who finds the treatment that you were provided with fell below an acceptable standard of care, and because of this you suffered an injury.

What happens next?

When we issue proceedings the insurer for the GP and / or Practice Nurse will instruct solicitors. We may need to take up further reports, on your condition and prognosis. With very serious injuries, it will be necessary to consider whether you are still able to work, whether you can still carry on with all of your previous activities of daily living. We will advise on the appropriate Vocational Representative expert who will assess you and provide us with a Vocational Report if you are claiming for future loss of earnings. We may instruct an Occupational Therapist, a Care Expert, a Psychiatrist if the injury has had a psychological impact on you. It may even be necessary to instruct Architects in situations where the injury is such that your home is no longer suitable to you because of your injuries.

Will I have to go to court if I bring an obstetric negligence claim?

The majority of these cases settle outside of court. This is because we will not proceed with a case unless we are confident that you will win and therefore settlement usually occurs without having to go to court. However, going to court is always a possibility you must be prepared for.

How much compensation will I get for my injury?

This varies very much from case to case as it will depend on the severity of your injury, whether it is permanent, and how it has affected your life. You can claim for general damages which is compensation for your pain and suffering, but you can also claim for special damages and these are the financial costs resulting from the injury caused. This may cover costs already incurred, such as transport, accommodation, and medical treatment, and expected future expenses such as further medical treatment and loss of earnings. The damages you receive will be based on the precise injuries suffered, the circumstances of the case and with reference to the Personal Injuries guideline and established case law.

Medical Negligence Solicitors Ireland

We represent clients in medical negligence cases from all over Ireland and not just medical negligence cases in Dublin. We can accommodate virtual meetings if you have difficulty travelling.