There is no doubt that most doctors and nurses provide superb care to their patients. In a minority of cases, however, medical professionals can make mistakes which have serious consequences for the health of those they are treating.
You have the right to an explanation when treatment has been badly performed, as do your close relatives. Indeed, all doctors are required by the General Medical Council to inform you when negligence may have occurred, and to provide a proper explanation about what has happened.
If you have suffered from a medical mistake you may be entitled to financial compensation for clinical negligence, which is also popularly known as medical negligence. However, in order to succeed in a medical negligence claim you will have to establish that your injury or loss was caused as a direct result of the medical mistake or substandard treatment.
The range of situations in which personal injury can occur covers the entire medical field, and can include (NB: this list is non-exhaustive so if an area is not listed below it does not mean it is not covered):
It is important to remember that personal injury can also include the effect of any medical mistakes on your mental health, or any 'nervous shock' which might be suffered by your relatives as a result of what happened.
Breach of the duty of care between doctor and patient has been found to occur by the courts in certain instances of failed diagnoses, failure to warn of the risks of particular treatments, failure to obtain consent, negligence during surgical procedures, delayed referrals to specialists, as well as in a number of other circumstances. Medical negligence can also be found through instances of systemic lack of care by institutions, and does not only apply to doctors. Other professionals, such as dentists, midwives and nurses may also be under a duty of care.
The area of clinical negligence is always expanding in order to cover innovative developments, such as the storage of organs by hospitals, or liability for infections which come about as a result of medical treatment. In addition, clinical negligence can also be combined with other areas of the law, such as consumer safety legislation.
One of the most important things to realise about the field of clinical negligence, however, is that it is not always straightforward to prove that the negligence caused the injuries in question. You will require the expert evidence of at least one person who is qualified in the speciality, in order to establish that:
If you think that this was the case, your first step is get advice, call our trained advisors will talk you through your options. You may also wish to consider making a written complaint to the medical authority. This will not only record what happened, but will also allow you to hear an explanation from the medical service. It is important to note that you do not have to make a complaint in order to pursue a medical negligence claim.
If you make a complaint and you are not satisfied with the response your receive, you can also take your case to the next stage of your health authority's complaints procedure, and should also seek advice from your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), or the Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB). You may also find the Independent Complaints Advocacy Services (ICAS) to be helpful.
If your attempts to reach a local resolution are not successful, you can also request an independent review, or appeal to the health ombudsman. If you are seeking financial compensation, it is always best to go directly to a solicitor who specialises in medical work at this stage.