Standards of healthcare in the UK are traditionally very high. Sadly, though, the current financial strain on the NHS means poor outcomes for patients are more common. Pam Roberts explains the options if this happens to you.
Medical or clinical negligence occurs when substandard health care results in pain, injury or mental problems that would otherwise have been less severe or avoided completely. As a result, you or a loved one could be left with a life-changing injury or condition.
Patients can claim compensation whether the medical accident happened in the NHS or privately and the law applies to all kinds of treatment by hospital doctors, GPs, nurses, midwives, dentists, physiotherapists, and aesthetic practitioners who perform facelifts, fillers and Botox procedures.
What you must prove to make a successful claim
Medical or clinical negligence is a complex area of law that requires specialist legal knowledge.
A successful claim hinges on obtaining medical evidence that demonstrates the professionals breached their duty of care due to a course of treatment not endorsed by a reasonable body of medical opinion.
Just as importantly, you also need to show that you have suffered injury and financial loss as a direct consequence of the breach of duty.
The importance of establishing that negligence has occurred
Most of us usually know when something has ‘gone wrong’ when we receive medical treatment. However, establishing whether it is a result of inadequate treatment is much more difficult.
Medical professionals have an obligation to be open and honest with you regarding poor outcomes, but in practice this does not always happen.
You should speak to a specialist solicitor if your treatment has caused you harm, but are unsure whether this is an acceptable outcome or the result of negligence.
A medical negligence solicitor will listen carefully to your account of what happened, answer all your questions and explain what your options are.
The type of compensation you may be entitled to
If your claim is successful, you will be entitled to compensation consisting of general damages and special damages.
General damages is the element of the compensation relating to the injury and pain you have suffered due to poor treatment. This is assessed using expert medical witnesses who will appear in court to support your claim by arrangement with your solicitor.
Special damages are your financial losses resulting from inadequate treatment. These include loss of earnings, the cost of any care, past and future medication expenses, rehabilitation and therapy bills.
Prompt action is always recommended
The law says a claim must be made within three years of the date when you knew something had gone wrong with your medical treatment.
This means that if you suffer harm during an operation that was performed negligently, the three-year period starts from the date of the surgery. However, if your GP has failed to take appropriate action for many months and it transpires that your condition would have been treatable (such as cancer or heart problems) then you have three years from date you were correctly diagnosed.
With this in mind, it is vital to seek specialist legal advice as soon as you think something has gone wrong.
For advice on medical negligence, call Pam Roberts on 0161 761 4611 or email her at email@example.com