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How to go about bringing a claim following a prescription error in Ireland.


Posted in [Blog] on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022

Prescribing a medication is one of the most common interventions in healthcare.  In Ireland, medicines (including vaccines) are prescribed by General Practitioners, Nurse Prescribers and by doctors at various levels including Consultants.  Medications are prescribed in outpatient hospital clinics, in inpatient settings and in various satellite clinics.  In 2018, Irish Medication Safety Network reported that an estimated one medication error per hospital patient per day occurs in Ireland.

Thankfully all medical professions including in particular pharmacists work hard to minimise these errors and luckily many of these errors do not result in any known harm to the patient.

However, if and when a prescribing error does occur and results in harm, it may be possible to bring a successful medical negligence case in order to achieve compensation for the injuries sustained.  In some instances, the error can cause significant health implications for the patient.  In general monies are recovered for any pain and suffering which arose and any specific costs arising out of the error eg. further medical treatment, care or aids and appliances.

The range of errors is large but common examples of cases successfully investigated by the Medical Negligence Team in Cantillons include:

  • Incorrect drug, dose or route
  • Incorrect duration (too long or too short) or missed medication
  • Inappropriate medication for that patient eg. age, kidney function, pregnancy, known allergies or other illnesses
  • Inappropriate labelling and advice
  • Failure to review and stop or adjust dose
  • Failure to recognise and avoid interactions
  • Failure to monitor and act upon blood levels of the medication, blood marks, organ damage, side effects

In some instances, sadly, the error caused fatal or life-threatening injuries.

In order to investigate your particular case, we would need to get full details of what happened, the medical history and review all the relevant medical records.   In order to bring a case, we would then need an expert opinion from a Pharmacist.  That expert Pharmacist would need to agree that you did not receive the standard of care reasonably expected of a competent Pharmacist.  We would then need expert evidence from the appropriate speciality to confirm that that error caused the injury complained of.

Time limits apply in these cases (as they do in other cases) and in this instance you generally must issue proceedings within two years of the date of the wrongdoing.

Cases regarding a pharmaceutical error require some additional steps as they are a little different to usual standard of medical negligence.  It is necessary to submit an application to the Personal Injuries Board Assessment (PIAB) to potentially have the matter assessed there in the first instance. PIAB may deal with the matter themselves, or may issue an Authorisation under section 17 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Acts 2003 and 2007, allowing you to issue proceedings in the normal course.

Cases regarding vaccines errors can involve additional elements if there is a criticism regarding the manufacture or recommendations for using a vaccine.

These additional steps can be time consuming and must be completed before issuing proceedings within the two years.  It is important therefore not to delay in commencing investigations.

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or info@cantillons.com if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.

Orla Kelly

Partner

Experience

Orla qualified as a Solicitor in 2014, having complete her traineeship with the firm. Since joining the firm in 2012, Orla has gained a variety of experience acting for clients and their families.Orla has a particular focus on medical negligence and defective medical device claims, including acting for clients who have received the recalled DePuy ASR hip device. Orla is also a Registered Pharmacist and previously worked for a number of years as a hospital clinical pharmacist. Her combined knowledge of pharmacy and law benefits her work in the Medical Negligence team at the firm.  She listens and responds to individual clients’ varying needs.

Qualifications / Associations

  • Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Law
  • Honours Master’s Degree in Pharmacy
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy
  • Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors 2014
  • Member of Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland
  • Member of Action Against Medical Accidents

Related Experts

Ernest J. Cantillon

Managing Partner

Orla Kelly

Partner

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