In the UK we are lucky enough to usually have a high standard of healthcare and trust in our healthcare professionals. However, there are occurrences when things go wrong, and if this has happened to you or a loved one you are entitled to make a compensation claim for medical or clinical negligence. When you are quite literally putting your life in the hands of a professional, you expect them to behave in a certain manner. If they do not do this, whether it is intentionally or accidentally, you have the right to complain.
Medical (also known as clinical) negligence occurs when poor healthcare causes injury, pain, mental health problems or death. Whether the medical accident happened under the NHS or privately, or you were treated by your dentist, hospital or GP, you can claim for compensation.
Sectors where cause for a medical claim could potentially arise include anaesthetics, cardiology, accident and emergency, psychiatry, sterilisation, urology, oncology, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, cancer treatment, gastroenterology, radiology, vascular surgery, general practice and more.
Examples of injuries experienced through medical negligence include:
- Eye injuries and blindness
- Spinal injury
- Brain and head injuries
- Broken bones
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Catastrophic injury
- Muscle/soft tissue injury
- Deafness and hearing problems
- Loss of taste and smell
- Fatal accidents
- Loss of limb/s
There are also a number of issues which are starting to become more frequent in recent times. These include misinterpreted breast screening and cervical smear testing, liability for hospital-acquired infections, the retention and use of organs and tissues following post-mortems and early failure of replaced hips. There are areas where clinical negligence overlaps with other litigative areas, such as product liability, where drugs and vaccines are involved.
Taking legal action
Sometimes medical claims may take years to go to court, which can result in great expense. It can be difficult to prove that your accident was caused by lack of judgement or incompetent health care – you will also need to show that the poor treatment itself was the actual cause of your injury. Do not give up, however, as there is often a real need to seek financial compensation. If a patient needs expensive care, children lose a parent, or there is a risk of losing one’s house after having to give up work, it is essential that the injured party or their family claims what is rightfully theirs.
Before you take legal action following an incident of medical negligence, it is advised that you discuss the issue with your medical practitioner first. If this fails or does not progress, you will then need to make a more formal complaint. If the concern is your GP, you must first write to your surgery’s practice manager, and if the complaint is about a hospital you must write to the complaints manager. This is particularly important if you have concerns about behaviour or procedures that you would like to have put right or if you would like an apology for the way in which you were treated.
Clinical negligence is an incredibly specialist area and so it is important that the solicitor you use has specific knowledge and specialist experience. To be able to be as supported as the clinical practitioner or authority you will be up against, you need to make sure that you have firm backing on your side. This is what we offer you when you decide to make a compensation claim for medical negligence.
What you need to consider when making your claim:
- Initially you must file a complaint with the relevant parties (GP/practice manager/complaints manager)
- There are strict time limits for making a medical injury claim
- The legal proceedings for medical negligence must begin within three years of the first known date of when the negligent behaviour happened
- Cases involving children must begin before they have reached the age of 21
No one asks to be a victim of clinical negligence. Whether yourself or a member of your family have suffered as a result of medical negligence, it is important to get what you deserve. For further information and consultation regarding how your case will stand, please make no hesitation in contacting us.