Medical negligence is a general term that covers a whole spectrum of medical errors and accidents. It includes but is not limited to misdiagnosis, delayed referral, inadequate after care, wrongly prescribed medication and surgical errors. No matter how qualified a doctor or nurse is, human errors can still occur and have life-changing impacts on patients.
Liability and causation
If a doctor, nurse or other medical professional does something or fails to do something that causes an injury or harm to a patient, their act or omission is classed as medical negligence. In order to successfully claim medical negligence, it must be shown ‘on the balance of probability’ that a treatment was carried out negligently and directly caused the patient to suffer in one way or another. If the incident itself was unavoidable, then it is not classed as medical negligence.
In order for a medical negligence claim to be successful, the criteria of the ‘causation’ and ‘liability’ tests must be fulfilled. It is not enough for a doctor or nurse to have made a mistake. Their mistake must have caused you an injury or damage in some form of another in order for it to be classed as medical negligence. You must be able to prove that your injury was caused by the medical practitioner’s mistake. This is often very difficult, which is why many medical negligence cases take so long to put together.
Evidence and witnesses
You are much more likely to win a medical negligence case if you have the appropriate evidence and witnesses to back up your claims. Your own recollections of your experience, along with those of your family, friends and other witnesses, can contribute towards the legitimacy of your claim. You will also need to use your medical records as evidence, as there will be documentation of your treatment and the medical practitioner that carried it out. It also helps if you have another expert witness that can explain how the medical practitioner’s mistake caused the injury you are suffering from. Many people worry that doctors will simply stick together, but this is not always the case, as it is their duty to practice medicine ethically.
In order for a claim to be valid, it must be instigated within three years of the incident, or when you first realised you had suffered an injury due to medical negligence. The three year limit does not apply to children until their eighteenth birthday, so they have until they are twenty one to make a legal claim. It also fails to apply to people who have mental disabilities and are not in control of their own affairs. In the cases of children and those with mental disabilities, a parent or carer can make a claim on their behalf. It is important to get legal advice as soon as possible, as medical negligence claims can take a while to process.
If you believe that you have suffered as a result of medical negligence then you may be entitled to compensation. Medical negligence covers a broad range of human errors and accidents, which can potentially lead to life-changing results. In order to determine whether or not you have a claim, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced solicitor. Before hiring a solicitor you should carry out your own research to ensure that they are reputable and experienced. In cases of medical negligence it is important that your solicitors work on a no win no fee basis, so that you do not end up having to cover court costs and legal fees if they fail to win your case.