Fatal Injury Cases and Inquests

Increasingly in Ireland, Coroners Courts are returning verdicts of medical accident in cases where patient deaths are shown to have been caused by or substantially contributed to by the poor quality of care received from healthcare professionals.

Whether in the context of medical care at home, in the community, in a nursing home or in hospital, mistakes occur in medical treatment and sometimes these errors have fatal consequences. 

Deaths resulting from medical negligence can be very difficult to prove. Nevertheless, where you have a suspicion about the quality of the medical care that a loved one has received and you suspect the death may have been caused or contributed to by that poor care, you should seek expert legal advice immediately.

It may be necessary to seek an independent post mortem examination to establish the precise cause of death and to examine the site of any recent surgical procedures. Usually it is possible to retain and instruct a pathologist to conduct the post mortem examination in conjunction with the coroner’s pathologist so that there is no undue delay caused to the funeral for the sake of the family

It may be necessary to liase with the Coroner to ensure that an inquest is held to establish the cause of death such as in a case where the death is reported as being from natural causes and would not otherwise attract the attention of the coroner.

It may be necessary to seek an inquiry into the death by the hospital or care facility by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the Health Service Executive (HSE) or one of the professional governing bodies such as the Medical Council.

If civil proceedings are ultimately brought for wrongful death, cases involving medical negligence do not go to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). Instead they proceed directly to the court system.

See Fatal Injuries

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