Clinical Negligence – When and how to claim

In these modern times, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals can generally be relied upon to provide an excellent standard of service for their patients. However, if you, your spouse or child have been injured, or if tragically you are the dependent or a child of a patient who has died as a result of medical treatment, you are entitled to receive an explanation from your treatment provider.

Where the injury or death has been caused or contributed to by the breach of a duty of care, you and/or your child may be entitled to financial compensation for what is now called ‘clinical negligence’, but which has in the past been referred as ‘medical negligence’.

Such claims are not just limited to being brought against the National Health Service. If you have been treated as a private patient and paid the doctor either personally or through your private health insurance, you may also be able to make a claim if your treatment is found to be below the standard that would normally be expected.

Shortcomings in standards of care can occur when a failed or delayed diagnosis is given, there is a failure to warn of risk in treatment or to obtain proper consent to treatment, there are errors in medication, when surgical procedures are carried out carelessly or when there are delayed referrals to specialists.

There are differences in principles and procedures when making a claim for clinical negligence rather than a claim for personal injuries caused by, for example, a road traffic accident. In the latter, it is more straightforward to establish whether or not someone was at fault and whether any injuries were suffered as a result. However, in order to bring a successful clinical negligence claim, you must prove through independent medical expert evidence that firstly there were serious errors in the medical treatment that you received which no competent doctor would have made; and that those errors caused or substantially contributed to the injury you are complaining of.  With the independent medical expert often being required to put forward technical medical evidence, for that reason clinical negligence claims can take longer to pursue, sometimes lasting for years before even reaching Court should the medical professional or body in question choose to oppose the claim.

If you are considering bringing a claim, generally the first stage would be to submit a letter of complaint to the proposed defendant. This gives you an opportunity to put forward your grievances and to consider the response that they provide. If you then remain dissatisfied with the response, it may be that you have a claim for clinical negligence and may be entitled to compensation for pain, suffering, loss of amenity and any past or future financial losses.

Due to the complexity of such claims, it is recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced solicitor as soon as possible.

For more information, please contact Rachel Shaw on 01284 755771 or via EMAIL

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