Medical negligence is undoubtedly on the rise in the UK and has been for some time. In the period of 2020/21, for example, there were 12,629 clinical claims brought against the NHS, with this figure 133% higher than the 5,426 raised in 2006/07. One reason for this increase is the increased pressure being placed on the NHS, both in terms of funding and staffing levels. However, patients are also increasingly aware of what constitutes medical negligence, and willing to pursue claims against a healthcare trust or individual.
But how can you recognise medical negligence? We’ll explore this below while asking what’s required to prove clinical cases.
What is Medical Negligence?
The term ‘medical negligence’ describes instances where substandard care has been provided by a licensed healthcare professional to a patient. The delivery of substandard care represents a failure of the healthcare practitioner to uphold their duty of care, while it must have also caused a subsequent injury or exacerbated the symptoms of an existing condition.
This broad term also includes a number of more specific instances. For example, a medical negligence claim can follow misdiagnosis, where a doctor has failed to recognise your symptoms or attributed them to the wrong condition. This can lead to treatment errors and cause your condition to worsen, while prescription errors may also relate to doses or the precise drug used to treat your ailment.
Surgical mistakes may also come under the description of medical negligence, although these are incredibly rare. However, the complexity and impact of surgical mistakes can result in high-profile cases and increased compensation payouts, so they often attract the most attention and headlines.
The Examples of Medical Negligence:
The examples of medical malpractice and ordinary negligence are as follows-
- During surgery, if a physician cuts into vital tissue or any organ.
- If the surgery is completely unrelated to the condition of the patient.
- If the physician schedules and performs a wrong procedure that was in fact intended for another patient.
- If the anaesthetist gives an overdose of anaesthesia or improper anaesthesia.
- The failure of the doctor in diagnosing and treating infections.
All these above-mentioned situations can result in critical outcomes for the patients and may cause death. These all are cases of medical negligence.
How to Claim Medical Malpractice?
A patient can claim medical malpractice grounded on the following criteria:
- The relationship between the doctor and the patient is in question.
- The doctor did not follow the standard of care.
- Because of the substandard care, the patient had to suffer an injury.
- The injury of the patient resulted in serious damages or losses.
However, sometimes, it can be very difficult to recognize medical malpractice instances. This is why it is important to take help from malpractice lawyers who can investigate and determine the liability behind injury.
Signs of Medical Malpractice:
Medical negligence can result in serious and life-changing challenges for the patients, including disability, disfigurement, scarring, emotional distress, and a costly and long way to recovery. Sometimes patients unexpectedly die and that is the most painful thing to accept for the family members. Here are some typical signs of medical malpractice cases-
- Delayed Diagnosis: To help a patient successfully recover from his or her condition, early diagnosis and intervention are necessary. However, due to the delayed diagnosis, the doctor may lose the opportunity to treat the patient successfully or medical complications can occur to the patient.
- Medical Procedure: The physician is legally responsible to inform the patient or the family of the patient about all the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives to a particular medical procedure or surgery. If the medical provider does not obtain informed consent and the process causes an injury, the provider will be responsible for medical negligence.
- Medical Errors: Medication mistakes, such as wrong drug, wrong dosage, inappropriate duration or frequency of treatment, failure to ask the patient about medical conditions, medical interactions, and allergies, and failing to inform about the essential warnings are considered medical errors.
- Misdiagnosis & Surgical Errors: A physician may fail to diagnose accurately due to inappropriate test results, human errors during tests, faulty diagnosis equipment, and relying on incorrect results. Surgical errors include surgery performed on the wrong patient, removal of the wrong organ, leaving instruments during surgery, or causing damage to vital organs.
What do You Need to Prove Medical Negligence?
In instances where you recognise instances of medical negligence, you’ll want to build and prove your case in the eyes of the law.
Make no mistake; there are several key elements to proving medical negligence claims; namely the following:
- Medical Records: These documents can build and demonstrate your medical history while highlighting any instances of misdiagnosis or treatment errors. As a result, they help to prove the initial clinical error and how you were failed by a trusted healthcare professional.
- Photographs in the Case of Injury: If medical negligence has resulted in a physical and visible injury, you’ll also need to detailed images to prove your case. Photos can also be used to highlight how an injury develops over time, while potentially shedding some light on how it was subsequently treated.
- A Detailed Patient Statement: As the patient, you’ll also need to provide a detailed and accurate statement about your circumstances. This will draw on both your medical records and the photographs used to support your case, while also highlighting the impact of medical negligence from a physical and mental perspective.
Interestingly, close family members and friends can provide supporting statements and evidence in your favour, particularly if they’ve cared for you during your illness or witnessed its effects first-hand.
Just note that you’ll have three years to pursue and prove a case from the date of the injury, or the moment in time when your symptoms became apparent. To help in this respect, you may want to liaise with a specialist medical negligence lawyer who can help manage your case, while gathering the necessary evidence within the three-year timeframe.
Also, your law firm will try to settle the claim as quickly and efficiently as possible, negotiating on your behalf to secure the best possible financial settlement in the process. Therefore, if you are a victim of medical negligence, contact a medical negligence lawyer to get justice.