I am often approached by individuals who are angry or upset because they feel that NHS staff have been unpleasant to them during their hospital stay, or they have received poor personal care. This is probably not a clinical negligence claim, and should be dealt with by the NHS internal complaints procedure.
The majority of the time, when we visit the doctor when we are ill, they are able to accurately diagnose our condition and treat us appropriately. This either alleviates or stops our suffering, and we are able to get on with our day-to-day lives.
Sometimes however, medical professionals can either misdiagnose an illness or treat it incorrectly, causing the situation to get worse. This can also add to the stress of being ill.
In 2012, it was reported there were 14,171 medical negligence claims closed, which was 13% higher than 2011. Of those medical negligence claims, 63% resulted in claims being awarded to the individual, and on average took less than 16 months from the start of the claims process to the claim being awarded (NHS Litigation Authority 2012).
If you have been a victim of medical negligence, you can claim compensation for the pain and suffering that you have suffered as a result of the healthcare provider’s negligence. You can also claim for any out of pocket expenses you have incurred for example, lost earnings or prescription charges. If you have received negligent medical treatment, been mis-diagnosed or not treated appropriately, then you may be entitled to make a no win no fee claim for compensation.
Typical medical negligence claims include:
- Failure to diagnose
- Failure to treat
- Delay in treatment
- Incorrect or improper treatment
- Failure to gain a patients consent
In order for your medical negligence claim to succeed, you must be able to show that the medical professional has breached their duty of care towards you. Most of the time this is done by obtaining a report from suitability qualified experts who will comment about whether the care you received was of a reasonable standard.
For example, if you attended A&E because you injured you ankle and the staff failed to diagnose a fracture, a report would be obtained from a consultant in accident and emergency medicine.
How long will the claim take? This is very difficult if not impossible to anticipate. If you decide to embark on this process, you must be prepared that the claim can take a long time (the average claim takes 16 months). The claim will require the input of numerous individuals including your legal advisor, the defendant and other medical professionals.
John Knight is the Head of the Personal Injury and Medical Negligence departments at Ringrose Law. He has worked in the Personal Injury team at Ringrose Law since 2003, and particularly specialises in complex and high value claims such as accidents at work, road traffic accidents and accidents resulting in death. He also specialises in representing families at inquests and helping people suffering serious injuries from assaults or other criminal activities via the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority.