There are a lot of misunderstandings about what exactly constitutes medical negligence. Even the best doctors are expected to make mistakes sometimes – we can’t really expect people to be perfect. When mistakes are made, there are a number of factors to consider in determining whether the event rises to the level of negligence.
Are You the Victim of Negligence?
Examples of cases that might be considered as clinical negligence include a doctor failing to diagnose your condition or sending you away with the wrong diagnosis, a mistake made by a doctor, surgeon, or another caregiver during a procedure or operation, a doctor or pharmacist giving you the wrong drug, any caregiver failing to get informed consent for a treatment they administer, and a caregiver failing to inform you adequately and fully of the risks involved in a treatment you are to receive.
Regardless of the event itself, compensation can only be paid out in cases where it can be shown “on the balance of probability” that the treatment you received fell below the standards expected of the caregiver in question and that the sub-standard treatment was directly led to you becoming injured.
How Do I Know if I Have a Case?
The best way of establishing whether you have a case worth pursuing is to consult with a medical negligence solicitor. A medical negligence solicitor will have experience in arguing negligence cases and will be best positioned to ascertain the validity of your case or explain why they don’t believe that it rises to the level of negligence. If your case doesn’t rise to the level of negligence, there are still complaints procedures that you can follow and other ways of seeking redress.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that accidents can and do happen. Most accidents have few, if any, long-term consequences, but in a healthcare setting, the stakes are potentially very high. A mistake is not usually the same as negligence, but the most serious mistakes certainly can be. If you think you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should consult with a medical negligence solicitor.
If you do make a claim against an NHS doctor or hospital, the NHS Litigation Authority will usually represent the NHS. Note that only a small number, fewer than 2%, of negligence claims are ever heard inside a courtroom. The vast majority will either be dismissed or abandoned before then, or the case will be settled out of court to the satisfaction of both parties.
Some people will be entitled to compensation without having to argue their case all the way to court. Patients who qualify for one of these schemes will simply need to show that they meet the eligibility criteria and they will automatically be awarded compensation. Examples of this include the compensation scheme for patients who contracted HIV or haemophilia from contaminated blood transfusions.
It is conceivable that other similar schemes could be set up in the future. These schemes are designed for cases that might be considered as ‘mass negligence’, meaning that negligence by a single entity has ultimately caused large numbers of people to be injured.