What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence relates to the acts or omissions of a health care professional acting in their professional capacity whilst in the course of their relevant employment or self-employment.
Patients who experience medical negligence are legally entitled to make a claim for compensation, which in many cases includes rehabilitation support, future care needs and loss of earnings. If the patient has passed away or is too unwell to make a claim themselves, their family may make a claim on their behalf.
To claim for medical negligence, it’s necessary to establish that two things have taken place:
- There has been a breach of duty
- The breach of duty has caused the patient illness or injury
Breach of Duty
All clinical and medical professionals have a duty of care towards their patients. This means they must provide their patients with a reasonable standard of care. The term health care professional includes hospital doctors, general practitioners (GP), private consultants, opticians, registered ophthalmic or dispensing opticians (working in a hospital setting), dentists, nurses, midwives, health visitors, pharmacy practitioners, members of professions allied to medicine and dentistry, ambulance personnel, laboratory staff and relevant technicians.
If a clinical or medical practitioner fails to meet their duty of care, it basically means that he/she has acted in a way that would not be supported by any responsible body of medical practitioners. This is called a Breach of Duty.
There are lots of different situations that might amount to a breach of duty, such as:
- Failing to or delay in diagnosing an illness or injury
- Failing to refer a patient
- Prescribing or administering the wrong medication/wrong amount of medication
- Failing to take appropriate care/exercise proper skill during surgery
- Failing to treat an illness or injury quickly enough
Patient has been Caused Illness or Injury
If there is a breach of duty, the patient may develop an illness or injury that he/she would not otherwise have suffered. In other words, the patient has been caused harm as a direct result of the medical care.
Where a breach of duty causes a patient to suffer harm or injury, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.
What Should You Do?
If you believe that you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, you will understandably be feeling angry and upset. Often it’s not clear what action you can take and it can be difficult to find answers, particularly at a time when your health is your priority.
The first thing you might want to do is to make a complaint. To do this, you can ask the organisation in question what their complaints procedure is. When you make a complaint, you are entitled to receive an explanation as to what went wrong and, if appropriate, an apology. See how Making a Complaint Can Help Your Medical Negligence Case.
You can also contact a Medical Negligence Solicitor to discuss the possibility of pursuing a medical negligence claim. You can do this at the same time as making a complaint. A Medical Negligence Solicitor will be able to say whether or not you have grounds for a claim.
How do Medical Negligence Claims Work?
Just because there are grounds to make a medical negligence claim, doesn’t mean that you have to. Some people don’t feel physically or emotionally able to go through the process, which is understandable. It’s entirely up to you.
If you do wish to make a claim, you’ll want to know how it works. Every claim is different, but generally it will involve:
- Getting your medical records
- Getting medical experts to write reports on your illness/injuries
- Calculating how much compensation you should receive
- Liaising and negotiating with the other side
- Finalising a compensation settlement
Therefore a medical negligence claims works by proving that you have been subject to medical negligence, and establishing how much compensation you are entitled to receive.
Like personal injury claims, the compensation awarded for medical negligence is intended to do two things: firstly, to recompense for your physical and emotional pain and suffering. This is known as your General Damages. Secondly, to recover all the money you have lost (and will lose in the future) because of the accident or incident. This is known as your Special Damages.
Medical Negligence Claims vs Personal Injury Claims
There are differences between personal injury claims and medical negligence claims. The main difference is that your Solicitor will need to ask at least one medical expert (possibly more) to write a report, saying whether or not there has been a breach of duty.
The medical expert must study the care that you received, and consider whether he/she would have acted in the same way. Take, for example, a fractured arm. If your fracture was missed when you attended A&E, a similar doctor must question whether he/she would also have missed the fracture. If not, there will have been a breach of duty and your claim can continue.
When you contact Co-op Legal Services for a free initial consultation with a Medical Negligence Solicitor, the Solicitor will review the details you provide and advise you on your claim’s prospects of success. Most medical negligence claims can be funded through a No Win No Fee agreement, this means that If your claim is unsuccessful, there is no financial risk to you as all your legal fees will be covered*.
We deal with different types of medical negligence claims including:
- A&E Claims
- Amputation Claims
- Brain Injury Claims
- Cancer Claims
- GP Claims
- Nursing Claims
- Spinal Injury Claims
- Surgery Claims
At Co-op Legal Services our Medical Negligence Solicitors deal with clinical and medical negligence claims on a No Win No Fee basis. As part of the Co-op Group, our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.
If you or a member of your family has suffered illness or injury as a result of substandard medical care, please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation with a specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor.
For more information about calculating the amount of compensation, General Damages and Special Damages, see our Medical Negligence Claims Guide.
It is part of the Co-op’s ethos and values to provide help and support in enforcing legal rights so as to prevent injustice. We will always strive to secure the best possible compensation and rehabilitation support for our clients.
*Subject to entering into and complying with the terms of a No Win No Fee agreement and taking out and complying with the terms of an After The Event insurance policy (when appropriate).