Are Polite Patients at More Risk of Medical Negligence?

30th September 2013

Over half of staff surveyed told Fletchers that they believed patient complaints had the potential to lift standards overall. As solicitors familiar with the most serious of medical negligence claims, we estimate that around 30 per cent of the claims we see raised every year could be prevented if patients complained effectively at the time negligence is first suspected or recognised.

Both the NHS and its patients, however, share a common challenge in speaking out at the time when things first go wrong. Health workers have pointed to patients and their immediate families, saying that if negligence does occur, it is their responsibility to make problems known so that they can be remedied. In the same way, patients rightfully expect NHS staff to report their own failings in a timely manner, rather than relying on the occasional whistle-blower to initiate change.

We know too well that preventing medical negligence is not always as simple as passing on a message that something is wrong. Our work lies not only in taking on the fight for people affected by medical negligence, but in using platforms like social media to educate the wider public on their rights and how to complain.

In addition to raising standards for public healthcare, independent of instances of medical negligence, early intervention could prevent serious harm and even save lives; a cause that again unites providers and their patients. This could best be achieved through an accessible and transparent patient complaint process.

Flagging a problem can be an intimidating prospect for any individual, especially when it necessitates challenging the actions or opinion of a medical professional who may even actively fight the claim. When former NHS nurse Jean Cadden shared her experience of negligent care, in support of a recent push to educate patients about how to complain, it showed just how difficult it can be to make your voice heard. Like so many clients, her story highlights the importance of a clear complaints process in the pursuit of patient safety.

If you need more information or would like advice on how to respond to negligent care, get in touch.



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