Suffering an injury as a result of an incorrect medical procedure, diagnosis or treatment can be traumatic at best, life-threatening at worse. If you feel you have suffered medical negligence, chances are you might feel entitled to compensation for your injury and resulting trauma, which is perfectly natural. Many people are initially quite afraid of the idea of pursuing legal action against their medical providers, but there is no need to be. In this article we will cover what classifies as medical negligence UK, and how you can make a claim.
What Is Medical Negligence?
The legal definition of negligence is “a breach of a legal duty of care owed to one person by another which results in damage being caused to that person”. Medical negligence therefore refers to improper care from a healthcare professional or hospital. If a medical professional does not provide the proper and appropriate care for a case which then results in the injury or death of the patient, this qualifies as medical negligence. Medical negligence is also sometimes referred to as medical malpractice.
What Are the Different Types of Medical Negligence?
There are many different types of medical negligence that you can claim for, even some really obscure ones, but here are the main types of medical negligence that you are most likely to encounter:
Misdiagnosis: this is when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a condition, which then results in harm to the patient that could have otherwise been avoided. It is one of the most common types of medical negligence claims to be made as it is one of the easiest mistakes a doctor can make. If your doctor failed to diagnose your condition completely, or diagnosed you with the wrong condition, which resulted in either the failure to provide treatment or providing incorrect treatment, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim.
Surgical Negligence: this is when a surgeon makes a mistake while performing surgery, which results in injury or death to the patient. There are some kinds of surgical mistakes that are labelled by the UK Government as ‘never events’ which means that they should never happen to any patient. However, in rare cases they do happen and in these cases, patients will most likely be able to claim medical negligence and win. Common examples of surgical negligence include: the incorrect body part being operated on, the incorrect procedure being performed, medical equipment or foreign objects being left inside the body, unnecessary scarring and disfigurement, unnecessarily damage to organs or infection caused by lack of proper sterile conditions and poor hygiene.
Negligent Medical Advice: this occurs when a medical professional fails to properly inform you of the risks associated with a procedure or to let you know of other alternative procedures available. If you entered into a medical procedure that caused you harm without proper informed consent beforehand, you may then be able to make a medical negligence claim. Common claimants for negligent medical advice include mistreated intersex persons. It is unfortunately quite common for an intersex person to receive improper treatment, and if you feel this applies to you, you may be able to find help from an organisation such as the UK Intersex Association.
Pregnancy, Labour and Delivery Injuries: The majority of births in the UK occur without many complications or injuries, however there are still cases of negligence on the part of a medical professional resulting in injury to the mother or child. You can claim medical negligence for a missed diagnosis, incorrect treatment or injury obtained at any point during a pregnancy or birth. Common examples include: maternal diabetes, placental abruption, wrongful birth, episiotomy and forceps delivery
Prescription or Medication Errors: Another very common type of medical negligence is incorrectly prescribed medication. If your doctor has prescribed you the incorrect medication for your condition that resulted in either your condition worsening, or causing you unnecessary harm, you may be able to make a medical negligence claim.
How Can You Make a Medical Negligence Claim?
If you feel you have been a victim of medical negligence, the first step you will need to take is to gather as much evidence as you can that relates to your case, and why you feel you are entitled to compensation. The next step is to find a specialist medical negligence lawyer – often, most people are worried about losing money when hiring a solicitor for their claim, and so firms such as The Medical Negligence Experts are a popular choice due to their no win no fee policies.
A solicitor will be able to tell you how likely your case is at being successful and talk you through all the steps required to get your case started.
What Will You Need to Make a Medical Negligence Claim?
To make a medical negligence claim, you will need plenty of proof to back up your claim. It’s important to keep track of all physical evidence of your injury and any doctor’s notes or hospital letters that are relevant to your case. Your solicitor will also be able to contact your medical professionals and request medical records and notes that are relevant to your case.
How Long Will It Take?
Bear in mind that there is a time limit imposed on medical negligence claims UK; three years from the date of the incident is the current amount of time given for you to make a claim. If your claim is from a time before this, chances are your case won’t go through. The only exceptions are if at the time of the incident, you were a child (under 18) in which case, your three year time limit starts from the day you turn 18.
How Much Will It Cost, and Is Legal Aid Available?
Unfortunately, in the UK, legal aid is no longer available for medical negligence cases. Many people are very upset about this, however there are still options to help fund your case. The most common method is to hire a ‘no win no fee’ lawyer, who will only charge you if you win you case. This way also increases the likelihood that your case will actually succeed, as most no-win-no-fee lawyers will only take on a case they truly think will succeed.
Reasons You Should Consider Making a Claim
If you truly feel like you have been injured as a result of improper care by a medical professional, you should definitely look into making a medical negligence claim. If you believe you have plenty of evidence to back up your claim and that your injury has directly impacted your quality of life, then chances are your case will go through, although it’s always best to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor first.
Why You Shouldn’t Try Making a Claim
However, there are some reasons or circumstances where you should reconsider your decision to make a claim. If you do not have a lot of evidence to back up your claim, or your evidence is very weak, if you did not sustain an injury that directly impacted your life or could have been easily avoided, or if your claim is over three years old, it may be best to let it lie. As always, it is best to talk to a medical negligence solicitor first when considering making a claim, but if any of these apply to you, you will likely find it difficult to make a successful claim.