7 things you need to know about making a Clinical Negligence Claim
The term Clinical Negligence (also known as Medical Negligence) refers to a breach of the legal duty of care owed to you by healthcare professionals, resulting in either physical or mental damage.
A breach has occurred if the standard of your treatment from a healthcare professional (such as a GP, consultant, nurse, therapist, laboratory worker, physiotherapist, mental health professional or member of the ambulance service), falls below the accepted level of any responsible group of professionals in the same speciality.
‘Things can go wrong and mistakes can be made’
In 2014 the Commonwealth Fund compared the healthcare systems of ten other countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and USA) and found the NHS to be the most impressive overall.
The NHS was rated as the best system in terms of efficiency, effective care, safe care, coordinated care, patient-centred care and cost-related problems, and second for patient equality and safety.
However, given the size of the NHS (it employs 1.7 million staff, and treats over 1 million people every 36 hours) it’s not surprising that occasionally things go wrong. Dr Mike Durkin, national director of patient safety at NHS England, said:
“There are risks involved with all types of healthcare and one of those risks – with the best will in the world and the best doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in the world – is that things can go wrong and mistakes can be made. This has always been the case, and it is true everywhere in the world.”
If a person’s quality of life is affected due an avoidable error, we believe they should be provided with help and support. This is where making a clinical negligence claim can help.
Here are our 7 things you need to know about making a clinical negligence claim.
1) Common types of clinical negligence claims
Medical Negligence compensation claims are a specialist type of Personal Injury Claim, they can include (but are not limited to):
- Failure to correctly diagnose a condition which leads to unnecessary suffering
- Incorrect treatment due to error or misdiagnosis
- Negligence in relation to surgery
- Medication errors, or over-medication that leads to serious side-effects
- Delay in treatment, or failure to warn about the risks of proposed treatment
- Pregnancy and Birth Injuries (including Erb’s palsy and stillbirths)
- Negligence in psychiatric care, psychotherapy, counselling, dentistry
- Accidents involving anaesthetic
2) To present a successful claim you generally need to establish three core elements:
- A Duty of Care – There is generally little difficulty in proving a health professional such as a doctor or GP owes their patient a duty to take care of them.
- A Breach of duty – A breach occurred if the standard of your treatment falls below the accepted level of any responsible group of professionals in the same speciality.
- Causality – It’s not enough to prove that someone did something wrong, it must also be proved that an injury occurred as a result.
3) You have 3 years in which to make your medical negligence claim, but there are some exceptions
The ‘Limitation Period’ for making your medical negligence claim is three years, the same as with a Personal Injury claim. The time runs from the date of the negligence or from the date you first knew you were injured as a result of the negligence.
Exceptions to the three year rule include:
- For children and young adults time doesn’t start to run until they turn 18.
- For people unable to administer their affairs by reason of mental disorder or lack of capacity, time does not begin to run until they regain capacity.
Never assume it’s too late to bring a medical negligence claim. Even if it happened more than three years ago our specialist medical negligence solicitors may still be able to help you make a clinical negligence claim on your behalf.
4) Medical negligence claims don’t just apply to the NHS
For many people in the UK, the term Healthcare is synonymous with the National Health Service.
With its workforce among the top five largest in the world, more than 80 million outpatients in 2013/14, and a total annual attendances at A&E for 2014/15 of 22.364m (25% higher than a decade ago) this is hardly surprising.
However clinical negligence can occur in all sectors of the medical profession, including private physiotherapy, dental care and cosmetic surgery.
5) Dental negligence is a type of clinical negligence
There’s been a significant rise in the numbers of complaints and claims against dentists over the last 8 years.
A survey of 2,000 people from an online panel of UK adults found 37% had complained about some aspect of their dental care. Of those surveyed, 14% complained of ineffective treatment and 13% of unnecessary treatment.
6) Clinical negligence also covers cosmetic negligence
The cosmetic surgery industry has seen a lot of negative exposure in recent times. Figures from The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPs) show the popularity of cosmetic surgery in the UK plummeted in 2014, down 9% from 2013.
This is thought to be partly due to the Poly Implant Prostheses (PIP) Scandal which effected thousands of women.
Following the Keogh Report, a government backed review from April 2013, non-Surgical cosmetic treatments are also causing concern. The report highlighted dermal fillers (a non-surgical cosmetic treatment) as the “next crisis waiting to happen”.
Figures from a report in 2012 by BAAPs showed that 2 out of 3 surgeons were seeing botched filler operations. With an alarming nine out of ten of those patients who suffered problems with permanent substances requiring corrective surgery or being deemed untreatable due to the damage caused by bad dermal fillers.
7) Duty of Candour puts legal duty on medical staff to apologise
Since the introduction of “Duty of Candour” rules in November 2014, medical and social care staff have a legal duty to apologise and tell patients when something has gone wrong.
The measures came into effect following an inquiry into the deaths of up to 1200 patients at two Mid Staffordshire hospitals. The report highlighted the need for a UK-wide effort to end cover-ups of abuse and neglect of NHS patients.
The introduction of the rules were welcomed by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), who described the new rules placed on NHS bodies as a “huge step forward” for injury victims.
John Spencer, the President of APIL said “Honesty and transparency is a huge step forward as the majority of those injured just want an explanation of what went wrong and why, alongside the knowledge that lessons have been learned”.
Osborne Morris & Morgan is nationally recognised as a leading Medical Negligence firm and has recovered more than £143 million in damages for Medical Negligence clients since 2001.
Our expertise in large-value claims has led to the development of specialised Court of Protection and Trust departments and ensures that expert recommendations for care, accommodation, equipment and therapy are actually put into practice.
We feel that getting you the best possible settlement to secure your future is only part of our job. Our lawyers and support staff, who have been with the firm for many years, get to know you and your individual needs so that we can offer long-term support.
What Happens Next?
We believe that you should be able to make your claim without worrying about expensive legal fees, which is why we work on a no win, no fee basis and any necessary preliminary investigation, including obtaining your medical records, is free of charge.
If you feel you have a medical negligence claim, or are unsure and would like to talk to someone about your situation then call us now on 01525 378177. We can help you see if you have a valid compensation claim. This service is free and you’re under no obligation to claim with us.