By law, your medical treatment includes a duty of care by the appropriate healthcare professional treating you, whether it be a surgeon, dentist or doctor, for example. Negligence means they have failed in that duty of care and it caused injury or harm to the patient being treated. Medical or clinical negligence claims are different from personal injury ones in that they require the claimant to prove two separate things: that the healthcare professional failed to carry out their responsibilities and that this is what caused avoidable harm.
The vast majority of medical care professionals and organisations will provide exceptional treatment far removed from that which could be deemed negligent. But negligence does happen, be it through bad practice, a lack of communication or simply a mistake.
Sometimes these errors are so glaring that it almost beggars belief, such as in the case of Graham Reeves. The 69-year-old from South Wales was admitted to hospital for an operation to remove his right kidney, which was chronically diseased. During surgery, his left, functioning kidney was mistakenly removed instead.
There are plenty of other areas where medical negligence might be less obvious or well publicised. In dentistry for example, you must be provided with information about the type of treatment available to you and if the treatment options change you should be kept informed and aware. Negligence can occur if you make a choice, which the dentist knows is the wrong one, and you subsequently suffer an injury as a result of that treatment going ahead.
Being prescribed and obtaining medication is even more common than a visit to the dentist but here once again there is the potential for negligence. Errors can occur in the prescribing and dispensing of medicine, such as if an incorrect dosage is given or medication that contains an ingredient which a patient is allergic to is prescribed – mistakes that can clearly impact on health, perhaps seriously.
The birthing process is another area where unfortunately problems can sometimes occur. If the mother, child, or partner sustain injuries in the birthing room, this could potentially fall under medical malpractice. Acute injuries such as cuts or bruises can still be deemed as negligence, as well as severe examples including neglecting a newborn long enough that they develop serious or permanent health problems. A number of case studies featured elsewhere on our website highlight other examples of medical negligence we’ve dealt with.
It’s important to emphasise that cases of medical negligence are very much the exception to the rule, compared alongside the many successful treatments and care provided every single day. That said, it’s also important to be able to recognise medical negligence and shine a spotlight on failings so the NHS can face up to them and improve standards of care.
At Fletchers we’re experts on medical negligence and we’ll be able to advise whether you have a case. We’ll dispense with the jargon and help you understand what to do and we’ll do so from day one. If you think you’ve been a victim of negligence, contact us and we’ll assist every step of the way.