In light of World Patient Safety Day, which takes place on the 17th of September, leading UK medical negligence firm, Patient Claim Line, has shared important information surrounding medical negligence and what to do if you have suffered as a consequence of this.
In 2022/23, NHS payments for settling negligence claims totalled £2.7 billion, with £1 billion relating to maternity. During the same period, maternity claims accounted for 65% of the clinical negligence provision at a cost of £45 million. These figures present a stark reminder of the impact that negligence can have on patients and their wider family.
Kim Jackson, a solicitor at Patient Claim Line, has answered some of the most common questions surrounding medical negligence, giving actionable advice for anyone who has suffered due to a breach of duty of care.
What is medical negligence?
“Medical Negligence is treatment provided to a patient by a medical professional that falls below the standard expected of a reasonable body of clinicians. Negligence can occur during a GP visit, during treatment in a hospital or even aftercare. This can often result in injury, prolonged treatment or, in some unfortunate cases, the loss of a life.”
“All health professionals should be held to the same duty of care when it comes to patient safety. When negligence occurs and this duty of care fails to be upheld, medical staff should be held to account to prevent future occurrences and to support victims of negligence.”
Can I make a claim if I’ve received a delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, or delayed treatment?
“It is likely that you will be eligible to make a medical negligence claim if you have received a delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis or delayed treatment, especially if this delay was the cause of your condition worsening or if injury was caused as a result.”
“Some of the most common cases of medical negligence involve misdiagnosis which have led to delayed treatment and the worsening of a health condition. For many health conditions, it is crucial to catch them in their early stages as delays or inaccurate diagnoses can be life-threatening.”
What can I do if I’ve experienced substandard medical treatment?
“If you have experienced substandard medical treatment, you could be entitled to financial compensation, if you have experienced injury as a direct result. We would recommend researching and contacting a specialist medical negligence firm to discuss your experience and receive advice on whether you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. If you want to make a claim, you should contact a specialist solicitor as soon as possible to have the best chance of a successful claim.”
What is the process of making a claim?
“Firstly, the injured party will contact a specialist medical negligence law firm who can advise if the individual would be eligible to make a claim. If the case is accepted, a legal team will request copies of medical records and any other medical evidence of negligence that can be used to support the case. A claim will then be submitted to the defendant who will either admit fault or deny liability. In the event that the Defendant admits liability, it is likely compensation will then be negotiated between the parties.”
“In some cases, negligence claims can be taken to court, however, in 2022/23, 80% of NHS negligence cases were settled outside of a courtroom.”
“If a claim is successful, the injured party could receive financial compensation to help make their lives slightly more comfortable. This could be compensation to cover the loss of past or future earnings, specialist medical equipment, home or vehicle adjustments and private treatment or counselling.”
Can I make a claim on someone’s behalf?
“It is possible to have authority to act on behalf of the injured person if they have experienced inadequate care that led to the worsening of a condition. For this, the affected individual would need to give their permission. The injured person will need to provide instructions at key parts of a claim and might be required to attend medical appointments with independent medical experts and provide written instructions.”
“Parents or guardians of children under the age of 18 can make a claim on behalf of their child if their condition has worsened or they have been impacted by the negligence of a medical professional. Claims can also be made on behalf of family members if they do not have the mental capacity to put forward a claim themselves.”
What types of NHS negligence claims are there?
“NHS negligence claims can arise in all types of cases. For example, if an individual undergoes negligent surgery, receives a misdiagnosis, receives a prescription error, or receives incorrect treatment for their condition. Claims can also be made in the event of an NHS Never Event – this is when serious errors occur that should never have happened such as performing surgery on the wrong area of the body, or leaving a surgical instrument in a patient’s body during surgery.”
Who pays for NHS negligence claims?
“The NHS Resolution pays for any negligence claims made against the NHS if a claim is successful. NHS Resolution was set up by the Government to settle and fund compensation payouts arising from medical negligence claims made against NHS Trusts across the UK.”
“NHS Resolution is funded by individual NHS Trusts which are funded by the taxpayer. In this sense, NHS Resolution acts as an insurer for the NHS.”