What to do if you suspect medical negligence

25th April 2013

Medical negligence (or clinical negligence) is the term used to describe the breach of a legal duty of care owed to one person by a healthcare professional, which results in damage being caused to that person. Medical negligence can include various types of malpractice such as cosmetic surgery errors, surgical errors, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, dental malpractice or injury during child birth.

If you or a loved one have not received the optimum standard of care from a healthcare professional then you are entitled to a full explanation and you may even have a case for medical negligence. However it can be very hard to prove. To determine whether you have a case its best to seek professional opinion, and Fletchers Solicitors has provided a detailed guide on the subject.

What action can I take if I suspect I’m the victim of clinical negligence?
It’s highly recommended that you seek professional advice from a solicitor specialising in this area of law to advise you on the action you should take. They will be able to help you access your medical records, which can prove if vital information has not been taken into consideration by the medical staff. In addition, they’ll support you in undertaking a formal complaint with the relevant medical trust or body, assisting with correspondence with the opposition, and dealing with subsequent replies on your behalf. As well as alleviating stress from the proceedings, they can help you get the answers you deserve to determine whether legal action should be taken.

How do I know whether I have suffered from medical negligence and if I have a case?
In order to establish a clinical case, we have to establish the following:

1. That a duty of care exists between you and the treating clinician (this is a given as there will always be a duty of care between you and the health professional who has treated you).

2. That the duty of care has been breached by the standard of care that you have received.

3. And that as a direct consequence of the standard of treatment you have received, you have suffered what is known as ‘avoidable harm’. Avoidable harm being pain, discomfort, complications, for example, which are above and beyond those that you would have suffered had you been treated correctly.

What should I do if I want to take legal action?
Medical negligence is one of the most complex fields of personal injury law so it is strongly recommended that claimants seek professional legal advice from an approved law firm specialising in this area. Medical negligence solicitors are highly skilled in dealing with these type of claims and will be able to advise on the best approach if you have a strong enough case for them to take on. They also have access to medical experts who will be able to provide professional medical opinions on the original treatment and the injury inflicted.

How long do I have to file a medical negligence claim?
There are strict time limitations for medical negligence claims in the UK. Currently, you have to start your claim within three years from when the accident occurred or when it was first realised harm was incurred as a result of medical malpractice. For children however, the three year limit does not apply until after their 18th birthday.

What will I need to support my case?
Documentary evidence to support the case is vital and the law firm will need as much supporting information as possible, including detailed accounts of what happened from the claimant, family, friends and any other witnesses involved. Medical records will also need to be accessed and assessed. Any other information relevant to your treatment, such as prescriptions and receipts, are also useful to help prove the breach of duty caused harm. Also it is advisable to keep a record of any correspondence you’ve had, along with details of any costs or loss of earnings incurred.

It is worth noting that the solicitor may need a supportive opinion from an independent medical expert on your case.

Will I be able to make a medical negligence claim on behalf of my child?
Yes – children under 18 must be represented by an adult representative. The adult representative is required to always act in the child’s best interest and make all the required decisions in relation to the case.

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13th June 2017

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