When you are ill and are in the hands of a medical professional, you have trusted these experts by putting your health, and sometimes your life in their hands.
In the United Kingdom, we are lucky to have a brilliant healthcare system in place with highly trained medical specialists carrying out any procedures and operations we may need. It goes without saying that health practitioners do not intend to cause harm to any of their patients, but unfortunately due to circumstances, sometimes even highly qualified experts can make mistakes; and when medical mistakes happen, the results can be devastating. An individual can be left a lot worse off than when they first went into hospital, how they are able to live their day to day life can be drastically affected and their recovery time to get back to normal can be prolonged by a considerable amount.
When a healthcare professional has breached their duty of care (either privately or on the NHS), it is known as medical negligence or clinical negligence. These breaches can be an accident or mistake made during a procedure or surgery, hospital treatment, wrong medication prescribed, an incorrect diagnosis, or any suffering caused by negligent actions. Healthcare professionals can include:
- Care home assistant
When you are treated by a healthcare professional, they have a duty of care towards you – which is almost like an unwritten contract. You have entrusted them with you or a loved one’s health and you expect them to give you the best medical attention, and they are bound by law to tend to your needs to the best of their abilities.
So, What Does Medical Negligence Include?
Some examples of medical negligence claims for compensation are as follows:
Late Diagnosis – A medical professional gives a delayed diagnosis of a serious health issue, such as a bowel obstruction, and the delay causes the patient’s wrongful death.
Misdiagnosis – A medical professional fails to recognise clear signals that a patient is suffering from a serious disease, and the lack of diagnosis or treatment leads to his or her death.
Medication Errors – Negligence by a physician, pharmacist or nurse results in the patient ingesting the wrong medication, and could even cause a fatal overdose.
Anaesthesia Errors – An anaesthesiologist administers the wrong amount of anaesthesia to a patient, which then results in brain damage.
Childbirth Injuries – An example of childbirth injuries that could have been prevented would be when an obstetrician or midwife fails to perform a C-section in a timely manner, resulting in serious injuries to the baby.
Surgery Errors – Serious mistakes or errors in a procedure or operation performed by a surgeon can causing permanent scarring and serious health complications.
With all of the extreme changes and cuts in finding happening in both the private sector and the NHS – sadly the number of medical and clinical negligence claims are presumably only going to go up. One large factor that will contribute to this will be shortage of staff. There are obviously different levels of severity of medical negligence, and that level of severity will determine how much an individual can receive in damages if the case is taken to court.
For the case to be successfully upheld in a court of law, it must be proved that the injury or suffering has been caused directly as a result of negligence that another medical professional of the same level would not have acted with should the patient have been in their care.
There are typically 2 levels to negligence cases. Negligence and gross negligence. Gross negligence takes the idea of negligence and pushes the limits that bit further. The breach of duty was much more severe in cases of gross negligence, and the failure to provide adequate care goes way beyond medical standards that would have been obvious to anyone – not just healthcare professionals.
How Long Do I Have To Claim For Medical Negligence?
The same as personal injury claims, when dealing with a medical negligence claim, an individual usually has 3 years from when the injured party noticed that they were suffering the effects of negligence, to take legal action.
It is essential to be aware of the fact that this does not mean three years since the treatment itself was undertaken. This is due to the fact that some people may not start to see any symptoms of the medical negligence they have suffered, until after a substantial delay.
However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. If the victim of negligence was under 18 at the time when the incident happened, the three-year limit starts on their 18th birthday. Another exception would be made if the injured party is suffering from a serious mental illness, they would then have three years from their recovery of the illness to make a claim.
All medical negligence cases are unique, and if yours does not fall into the 3 year time limit there is no harm in getting some free legal advice from a professional to see if you could still take your claim to court. Many legal companies offer a ‘No Win No Fee’ service – which means they will not take on claims they are not likely to win!
So What Do I Do If I Have Suffered From Medical Negligence?
It is vital, if you feel that you have been a victim of medical negligence, that you get in touch with a trusted legal firm who have experience in dealing with cases in this specific area of the law (Personal Injury Claims).
They will be able to offer you guidance, advice and help you through the entire claims process. A good personal injury lawyer will fight your corner, ensuring that you are fully compensated for your injuries and suffering. Your solicitor will not only try to win you financial security to cover any expenses you have incurred because of the medical negligence; they will also be able to ensure you are awarded the best rehabilitation treatment possible to ensure you can get your life back on track as soon as possible.