Understanding Medical Negligence

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Understanding Medical Negligence

We all put our trust in our doctors, dentists and hospitals when we are ill or injured as part of our day to day lives. We trust the health professional’s diagnosis and judgement. However, sometimes the health professional can get it wrong and make a mistake. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes can have devastating and even fatal consequences for the patient and their families.

However, not all mistakes amount to “medical negligence” which leads to the question of:

What is Medical Negligence?

In order to have a successful claim for medical negligence (also known as clinical negligence), it is necessary to prove three things. Namely:

1. That the health professional was negligent. This means that they acted in a way that no other reasonable and responsible health professional of the same ilk would have done.

For example, a GP must act as a reasonable and responsible GP would have done in the same circumstances, and not as a Hospital Consultant would have done. This is known as “breach of duty of care.” It is the first limb of the medical negligence test.

Not all mistakes qualify as a breach of duty of care. For example, the mistake made could be excusable and one which other health professionals may have made in the same circumstances.

To establish a breach of duty of care, an independent expert of the same ilk as the treating health professional must report that the mistake made was so unreasonable as to amount to negligence.

2. That the negligence directly caused or contributed to the problems you have experienced (on a balance of probabilities). You must have suffered symptoms or injuries over and above what you would have experienced had the health professional not treated you negligently. This is known as “causation.”

It can be very difficult to understand that even if your health professional has made a negligent mistake, you may not have a claim for compensation. You will only have a claim for compensation if the negligent mistake has resulted in you experiencing more pain and/or a worse long-term outcome than you would have done had the negligence not occurred.

3. The damage which you sustained is sufficiently serious in terms of the compensation it would attract, to justify embarking on the compensation claim in the first place.

How Can We Help?

Please contact us for advice if you feel you have suffered any form of medical negligence. We will be able to give you free initial advice regarding whether or not you have a claim. Please note that there are strict time limits in place for making a claim for compensation, but our specialist medical negligence solicitors will be able to advise you specifically on the facts of your own case.

Direct dial our Clinical Negligence Department on: 01244 354688