In order to bring a medical negligence claim the Plaintiff must be able to prove that the medical practitioner who treated the Plaintiff failed to exercise due skill and care in carrying out their duties and in treating the Plaintiff.

A test has been laid down in Ireland in 1991 in the case of Dunne -v- The National Maternity Hospital which essentially says that a medical practitioner will be deemed to be negligent if it can be shown that they are guilty of a failure which “was so unacceptable” that no other medical practitioner of equal specialism and skill, would have made that failure or acted in that way, if acting with due care and diligence.

Doctors are allowed to make mistakes, and the mistake will only become actionable in the Courts if the mistake is so grave that another medical practitioner would not have made the same mistake also.

The Courts are anxious to ensure that doctors are free to carry out the medical treatment to care for patients appropriately and that they are not performing “defensive medicine” that is to say the Courts do not want doctors to be afraid to make life or death decisions for fear of being sued.

Doctors are judged by the standards of their peers and therefore, in order to determine whether the treatment received by a Plaintiff has been negligent or not, an expert in a similar field will be asked to give their opinion on whether the treatment was appropriate or not.

Even if it can be established that the level of care or treatment was not appropriate the Plaintiff must then show that, that failure by the medical practitioner is what caused the injury that they complain of.

So, therefore, even if you can show that you have been subjected to completely unacceptable substandard medical treatment, that fact alone does not entitle you to compensation, you must also prove that, that substandard treatment gave rise to either a physical or a psychological injury.

The evidence of whether the treatment amounts to substandard treatment or not, is given by an expert from outside the jurisdiction of Ireland who will look at all of the medical records and who will give their opinion on whether the treatment was acceptable or not.

If you feel that your treatment was of a substandard level please don’t hesitate to contact us at McElhinney & Associates, Drumboe Lodge, Stranorlar, Co. Donegal

074 91 75989 or email at

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

**This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by McElhinney & Associates for any action taken in reliance on the information contained herein. Any and all information is subject to change.