Inconvenient Truths of Clinical Negligence
Everyone knows that if you have a motoring accident and you have had whiplash then you are within your rights to claim against the other driver. Although in recent months, the legal community has been and continues to be rife with debate surrounding the proposed changes to the limits on the value of personal injury claims, and the effect that these changes will have on both Claimants and their legal representatives. The overriding change being that the Government proposes increasing the value of small claims from the current limit of about £1,000 to about £5,000. for injuries sustained in a road traffic accident , and massively reduce the abilities of ordinary people to claim damages for genuine injuries.
This means that a Personal Injury claim would have to be worth in excess of £5,000 in order for the successful party to be able to claim back any of their legal fees from their opponent.
There is no such obvious pathway when you have received an inadequate treatment from say your dentist and you still have tooth ache three days later. You just hope that next time you will have better luck or your dentist did the best they could but the inconvenient truth is you may not have received the treatment you should have done. However the evidence shows that medical claims are on the increase. The annual cost of clinical negligence in the NHS in England has risen from £1.2bn in 2014/15 to £1.5bn in 2015/16
Not everyone knows there is legal care of duty by the medical professionals. If you have suffered misconduct in the form of poor dental treatment leaving you with a bad tooth or breast augmentation surgery that leaves you with leaking silicone implants then the personal consequences for the customer can be devastating.
Take the real life case of Judith (identity kept confidential) who in 2017 had fillers under her eyes, and the results were disastrous, the liquid leaked. Judith had days of work and it involved trips to a London hospital to have corrective surgery, costing her hundreds of pounds each time, in rail fares and time off work .
Apart from regretting the entire surgery the physical defect was unsightly, leaving her chained to the house for several weeks. The corrective surgery partially resolved the cosmetic deformity but there was the constant fear an unsightly facial bruise would recur due to an infection.
This was obviously very distressing but Judith did not make a claim . Had she done so she could have been reimbursed not only for the cost of the treatment itself but for the travel and the cost of the procedures to put things right. Someone like Judith would have thought immediately after a car accident to consult a lawyer, but clinical negligence does not always have the same gut reaction.
Another case where Dave (again not the real name) was not given an appropriate aesthetic at the correct time when his gall bladder was removed. The administration of the blood tests also caused severe bruising. Dave suffered considerable distress , further of the surgical instruments was very painful. This was a catalogue of mishaps, ending with the patient leaving the theatre still covered in blood.
The doctors treating Dave and Judith owed them a duty of care. Clearly they breached that duty with substandard treatment. Had they sought legal advice they would have had strong cases and had great prospects of recovering substantial damages .
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