If you go to see your doctor at a GP surgery or you are being treated or cared for in a hospital or other medical practice, there is a prescribed and legally recognisable level of care that must be met.
If the care you receive from a doctor, surgeon, or any other healthcare professional falls below an acceptable standard, in breach of the duty of care and, as a result, you suffer illness or injury, you have the right to claim compensation for your pain and suffering and associated financial losses.
Penny Langdon is a great solicitor! She took on my medical negligence case and got a great result. She was not only very professional but she was also very supportive and genuinely cared about my well-being after going through such an awful experience Thank you Penny Langdon
At Wellers Law Group we appreciate that lives can be turned upside down when medical mistakes are made and we have the experience and expertise to successfully claim the compensation that you need and deserve.
The medical negligence team can help you understand whether you have a claim against a doctor or the NHS. We offer a free, no-obligation first meeting so that you can tell us about your treatment and we can work out whether your claim is likely to be successful. We will advise you of the funding options available to you, including “no win, no fee” agreements. You can contact the team on 020 8290 7958 or email us. Alternatively, fill in our short online form and we will call you.
We can also assist by offering you our free Personal Injury Claim Guide, which is designed to answer the most common questions about the process of making a claim. Click below to download your copy.
Medical Negligence – The Basics
It may help to have a basic understanding of what you need to prove in law to successfully bring your claim.
To succeed in your claim for clinical or medical negligence you, the Claimant, must prove three things, which are:
- You must show that you have suffered harm or damage i.e an injury: This might seem obvious but often we are asked if you can make a claim if the doctor has done something wrong even though little or no damage has resulted from this. Harm, in medical negligence claims, means physical and/or psychological damage.
- Breach of Duty: You must show that the clinician or doctor has breached their duty of care to you. This can be difficult because an error of judgement does not necessarily amount to negligence. The test in law is to judge the doctor’s actions by the standard of the ordinary competent physician in the relevant field of medicine. If the Court finds that the care provided accords with a responsible body of medical opinion, i.e. if a lot of doctors would have done the same thing in the same circumstances, their actions may not be negligent, even if it turns out to have been the wrong course of action.
- You have to prove that the breach of duty caused the injury: This is not normally as straightforward as it seems. For example, it is often the case that the underlying or pre-existing condition caused the damage and this would have happened anyway, with or without the doctor’s mistake.
Types of Medical Negligence Claim
There are a number of different ways in which your doctor or hospital may have failed in their duty of care. Click on the links below to find out more:
GP and Doctor Failures
- Failure to diagnoseDoctors and medical staff have a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure correct diagnosis of their patients. Failures in diagnosis can result in delayed treatment, incorrect treatment or no treatment at all. On occasions this can be fatal, particularly in cases of cancer.
Find out more about Failure to Diagnose and Delayed Diagnosis claims.
- Failure to examineWhether it is the result of an initial failure on the part of a GP or because of the negligence of a specialist or A&E doctor, failing to correctly examine a patient can result in worsening or progression of illnesses and injuries. If you have not been properly examined and this has adversely affected your health – perhaps because it has led to delayed diagnosis and delayed treatment – you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Find out more about Failure to Examine medical negligence claims
- Failure to organise appropriate testingIf you have specific symptoms or health concerns, your GP or specialist may be obliged to order certain blood, urine, stool, DNA, MRI or other testing in order to make a diagnosis. If a clinician has failed to organise appropriate testing in a timely manner and this has caused you suffering or affected your prognosis or long-term health you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Find out more about Failure to Orgainise Appropriate Testing claims.
- MisdiagnosisMisdiagnosis of an illness or injury can have catastrophic consequences and may lead to incorrect or no treatment. In the cases of progressive illnesses such as cancer, the consequences can be traumatic and even fatal. If you or someone close to you has suffered misdiagnosis of a medical condition or injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Delayed treatmentA delay in treatment can have a significant impact on your prognosis. Whether you have suffered delayed treatment because of incorrect diagnosis, a failure to refer, an administrative error, or other circumstance, you may be entitled to compensation.
Find out more about Delayed Treatment claims.
- Prescribing the wrong medicationIf you have been prescribed the wrong medication or have been given an incorrect dosage and this has caused you pain or suffering you may be entitled to compensation. Other examples of medication-related medical negligence include incorrect labelling of medication, computer/administrative errors, delivery errors and mistakes relating specifically to warfarin/heparin dosage.
- Failure to provide or arrange treatmentDoctors and hospitals have a duty to provide and arrange suitable treatment for injuries and medical conditions within reasonable timeframes and there are recognised guidelines for maximum waiting times from referral to treatment within NHS-run services. If you have suffered as a result of a failure in this regard and your condition has worsened as a result, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering, lost earnings and expenses.
Find out more about Failure to Provide or Arrange Treatment claims.
- Failure to refer and referral errorsGPs and consultants regularly refer patients for specialist treatment or investigation of symptoms. If a delay or failure in this regard has led to a worsening or complication of the symptoms and conditions affecting you, you will understand the trauma of this situation. Whether you have suffered as a result of a failure to refer, perhaps an X-ray would have expedited treatment, or you have been referred to the wrong consultant or department, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Medical procedure irregularitiesEvery patient has a right to a competent level of care from a qualified and registered practitioner. If you have suffered as a result of negligent care from an unlicensed doctor, surgeon or practitioner you may be entitled to compensation. All medical professionals must weigh up the consequences of performing any medical procedure on a patient to whom they have a duty of care. If they are not trained to carry out a certain procedure or the procedure would be deemed unnecessary or unsuitable by another medical professional and something goes wrong which causes harm, they could be held accountable for their actions.
- Failure to act on information Both NHS and private healthcare practitioners have a duty to act upon test results and to pass on important information provided by other healthcare professionals. If you have suffered because of a failure in this regard, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Failure to follow up or act upon test resultsAny abnormal test results as indicated by laboratory values should be followed up. Failures in this regard can lead to diagnostic negligence, delayed treatment and poor prognosis. If a clinician looking after you has failed to follow up or act upon test results and you have suffered as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Failure to warn of the risks of surgeryDoctors and consultants have a duty to warn patients of the inherent risks of surgical procedures, including anaesthesia. If it can be proved that you would have chosen not to undergo a procedure or operation had you been properly informed of the risks, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
- Performing surgery on the wrong body partThere are around 1.5 million surgical procedures performed under the NHS each year. Unfortunately, although statistically rare, some of these are performed negligently on the wrong body part. If this has happened to you, it is likely that you would be deemed deserving of compensation.
- Leaving foreign objects inside the patient’s bodyAlthough this sounds completely horrific, it is possible that during a medical procedure items such as medical instruments and swabs or gauzes can be left inside a patient. When this happens, the object can cause a worsening of symptoms or create serious complications such as puncture wounds, internal bleeding, damage to internal organs and septic shock. Typically, another surgical procedure will be needed to remove the foreign object. In most instances, and especially if you have suffered further pain and worsening of your condition, you will be entitled to compensation.
- Failure to identify abnormalities during a surgical procedure Doctors and surgeons must perform to a level consistent with that of a reasonable, similar practitioner and whether a procedure is exploratory, emergency or otherwise, a failure to identify abnormalities is a serious surgical error. If you suffer illness from a condition that should have been identified during an earlier surgical procedure, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Causing avoidable damage to tissue, nerves and muscleAll surgical procedures carry risk, however surgeons and clinicians must perform to a reasonably competent level. If you have sustained avoidable damage to tissue, nerves or muscle because of the negligence of a surgeon or medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Failure to manage an emergency during a surgical procedureEmergencies during surgical procedures are often an inherent risk and may be complex and difficult to handle. However, theatre teams should have emergency procedures in place and should be trained and competent in using specialist equipment to cope with incidents such as major blood loss or cardiac arrest. If you have suffered as a result of an inadequate response to an emergency during a surgical procedure or because of a failure to reasonably foresee its occurrence, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Failure to follow up after surgeryThe success or otherwise of a procedure depends on more than the surgical intervention itself. For most patients, follow up care and the identification of any problems is also essential to achieving a positive outcome. If you have suffered as a result of any failures in this regard you may be entitled to compensation.
- Hospital-acquired infectionsPoor hygiene standards amongst theatre teams or when any invasive procedure is carried out can cause the spread of bacterial infections such as MRSA. If you have contracted an infection during a surgical procedure and this has caused pain or suffering, or exacerbated your condition, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
This list is not exhaustive and you may feel that you have suffered harm as a result of some other form of medical negligence. Contact Wellers today and we will discuss your circumstances.
An important issue to consider is whether you are in time to make a claim. Under the Limitation Act 1980, you have 3 years from the date of knowledge that you have a claim, to make that claim. This date is easy to establish in some cases. For example, if the surgeon removed the wrong leg, you would know straight away. However, sometimes the injury arising from a mistake does not become apparent for some time. Then it is more difficult to establish exactly when you became aware, or should have become aware, that you had a claim for negligence.
To see how Wellers has helped some of our clients claim compensation for personal injury accidents and medical negligence claims please see our Case Studies page.
We are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Contact Wellers Law Group to Start Your Medical Negligence Claim
For professional and caring help with your medical negligence claim contact us on 0208 290 7958 and ask to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers or email Penny.Langdon@wellerslawgroup.com.