Every day thousands of medical procedures in the UK are completed to the highest of standards, leaving the patient on the steady road to recovery. Occasionally however, an operation or procedure can go awry due to simple mistakes (or rarely; gross negligence) and this can leave a patient in a worse state of health than when they first entered a facility for treatment. It is in these instances that the patient will likely wish to make a claim for monetary compensation.
This kind of compensation claim can also be made against professionals in industries such as dentistry, physiotherapy and midwifery.
Causes of Medical Negligence
Medical treatments can go wrong for several reasons. Sometimes it is the case that a doctor cannot fully realise the extent of a problem until surgery begins, or that a treatment series is wrong due to certain information being withheld by the patient. A doctor is also capable of making simple mistakes – just like workers in any profession can – which are easily rectified and will not cause any permanent damage to the patient. In any of these cases, a compensation claim is likely to be unsuccessful. Patients are made to sign a form before any surgical procedure is undertaken to declare that they are aware of the risks associated with the operation.
It is usually only a victim of a significant human error (examples include leaving surgical tools inside of wounds and failing to recognise obvious illnesses such as Meningitis) made by a health practitioner or gross negligence (including intentional harm) who will be successful in their medical negligence claims.
Litigation of Clinical Negligence
Since the law courts strive to protect the integrity of the UK’s health services (and wish to prevent phoney claims being made), being successful in your quest for compensation can prove to be difficult without significant evidence. Those claiming not only need to prove that a doctor was negligent but also that harm occurred as a result of this malpractice.
There is no time limit as to when claims can be made. For example, the incorrect delivery of a child during a hospital birth can see them suffering health problems that only come to light as they grow older. The parents of this child can sue in this instance (assuming evidence of past laxity is available to them). In examples such as these financial compensation is necessary, for great discomfort and issues with mobility could be symptoms that are experienced.
How to Claim for Medical Negligence Compensation
Before attempting to make a compensation claim, you need to ask yourself:
“Has the doctor treated me in a way that any other doctor would not have done?”
If the answer to this is yes, then you will likely have a case worthy of bringing to the attention of lawyers who can offer you the legal advice that you require.
The first step is to put your complaint into writing in order to clarify to yourself how exactly you believe your doctor has failed in their duty to provide the best care. This will prove helpful for the next step in the process; discussing your issue/s with the managers of the practise or hospital involved. You should note down anything related to you case that you wish to receive further information or clarification on ahead of this meeting. The complaints manager for your local health authority, Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can offer you advice should you be left unsatisfied after this meeting but should you be looking for compensation beyond an apology you should present your case to specialist solicitors as soon as possible. In some circumstances, cases can be investigated on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.
An average payout for cases of medical negligence is hard to determine for your award will be wholly dependent on the personal circumstances of your case. However, choosing the right medical negligence solicitors to represent your complaint will ensure that you receive the settlement that you deserve. How much an injured party will receive is dependent on two things; the injury sustained and the financial loss which has occurred as a result.