doctors discussing a patient

What is medical negligence, and how do I know if I can make a claim?

While doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers work to ensure everyone in their care is looked after to the highest standard, sometimes, things can go wrong. When this happens, the patient could have experienced medical negligence.

In the UK alone, 36% of people know someone who has experienced medical negligence or has experienced it themselves. Of this figure:

  • 20% said it was a family member 
  • 14% said it was themselves
  • 6% said it was a friend

If this has happened to you, you could be entitled to a medical negligence claim. Between 2018 – 19, 11,625 medical negligence claims were made with 6,843 being successful.

Below, we’ve highlighted everything you need to know to find out if you have a medical negligence claim, and how to make a medical negligence claim should you have one.

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence is defined as something that can lead to a serious injury, prolonged recovery period, physical or mental impairment and even death as the result of bad medical care.

In many claims, medical negligence is often the result of situations such as inadequate systems or a lack of staff. It doesn’t just cover the patient and can apply to relatives of the patient due to often substantial and immeasurable impact.

For example, in October 2018, the NHS paid out £37miliion to the family of a six-year-old boy who contracted the Herpes Simplex virus soon after birth. Due to this not being detected by medical staff until catastrophic damage had been caused to the brain, the child was left with lifelong behavioural, cognitive, communication, vision and motor issues. Because of this, the boy will now require 24-hour care for the remainder of his life

An extreme example, you can see how big the effects of medical negligence can be.

What are the common causes of medical negligence?

While medical negligence isn’t always as extreme as the above example, many causes can lead to the failure of a patient. These include:

  • A delay in diagnosing injury or illness
  • A failure to refer someone for the appropriate specialist treatment
  • Providing the wrong treatment, which can worsen an illness or injury

If you’ve been impacted because of any of the above, you may be entitled to a medical negligence claim.

What is a medical negligence claim?

There are two main purposes when it comes to making a medical negligence claim. These are:

  • To compensate either the injured person or family following the effects of medical negligence
  • To provide rehabilitation or support to help the injured person return to a position they were in before medical negligence

One thing to remember when it comes to a medical negligence claim is that it is different from a personal injury claim. This is because your medical negligence lawyer requires a report from at least one medical expert, highlighting whether there has or hasn’t been a breach of duty.

Also, because you are seeking monetary compensation for the effects of medical negligence, you won’t receive:

  • An apology
  • A change in practice
  • Action against a healthcare professional such as suspension or dismissal from work

Medical negligence claims are also subject to time restraints in the UK, which means all claims need to be made within three years.

How will I know if I have a medical negligence claim?

Not everyone will have a case for a medical negligence claim. However, as doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have a legal duty of care when diagnosing and treating patients, you may have a claim if:

  • There has been a breach of medical duty
  • You have suffered pain, suffering, injury, loss or damage
  • The pain, suffering, injury, loss or damage was caused by the unacceptable care

How do I bring a medical negligence claim?

Due to the severity of making a medical negligence claim, there are certain pieces of evidence required when making a claim. These include:

  • A statement from you, stating what happened in your own words
  • Copies of your medical records
  • A report from an independent medical expert
  • Financial evidence to demonstrate any financial loses

Your medical negligence lawyer will be able to discuss everything you need with you while making a claim.

How much is a medical negligence claim worth?

Like claims for personal injury, medical negligence claims pay out different amounts. 

In the first instance, your medical negligence lawyer will need to establish several facts, including:

  • What pain and suffering were caused to you and your family
  • How the results of medical negligence will impact you in the future
  • Has there been any financial loss as a result of medical negligence?
  • What treatment was required, alongside any ongoing treatment needed
  • Does your home or place of work need to be adapted following your injury?

Once this is done, your claim will fall into one of two categories:

  • General Damages: this covers compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity.
  • Special Damages: these cover financial losses.

How long does a medical negligence claim take?

The time frame depends on the complexity of each claim.

For straightforward claims, everything can be cleared within a few months, where’s more complex claims, such as the one involving the six-year-old boy mentioned earlier, could take several years.

If you or a loved one has experienced medical negligence and you want to know if you have a claim, get in touch with Treadstone Law today.

Call us on 0161 490 8960 or email admin@treadstonelaw.co.uk. 

Alternatively use the form below and our experts will get in touch.

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