Clinical negligence: what are your rights? – words Al Woods

If you have experienced medical care that is negligent or falls below the standards that you expect, it can be very traumatic.

Aside from potentially leaving you with injuries or illnesses, substandard medical practice could leave you feeling mistrustful of doctors and hospitals. It is natural to wonder, then, if it possible to take legal action against an unacceptable level of care.

Here we will take a look at your rights, to help you understand whether you can make a claim for negligence and what are the best steps to take in order to do so.

 

What is a clinical negligence claim?

To understand what a clinical negligence claim is, we first need to understand what a patient should normally expected from medical care. A doctor or medical practitioner has a ‘duty of care’ to their patient, and when they breach that duty of care, this is considered to be grounds from making a claim.

The duty of care is the standard of care that organisations are required to meet either by specific medical guidelines from an official body or an established standard in the industry. If in the breach of this duty of care you are caused harm, you are eligible to make a claim.

Speak to a solicitor as soon as possible

It should be noted, of course, that medical negligence can be extremely complicated and sensitive. If you believe that you may have been harmed as a result of clinical negligence, it is vital that you should speak to an experienced clinical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

You might think there are common medical negligence cases but in reality no two medical negligence cases are the same. You need to work with a solicitor with extensive experience and knowledge in the field in order to reach an outcome that is acceptable. Whether you have suffered as a result of misdiagnosis, negligent surgery or a hospital-borne infection, a skilled solicitor will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on making a claim.

A mistake is not necessarily negligence

It should be noted that even though it may seem like a doctor has been negligent, this is not always the case. There is a difference between a doctor making an incorrect diagnosis on the basis of very specific medical knowledge that they did not have, and an experienced surgeon negligently injuring someone when carrying out a routine procedure.

Clearly then, it can be extremely complex as to successfully prove negligence, the ‘burden of proof’ is on the claimant. This is why it is essential that you should talk to a solicitor as soon as possible – both to understand whether you are in a position to make a claim, and also in order to have the best chance of gathering evidence to support your claim.

Harm is not just physical

Another commonly held myth is that patients can only claim for medical negligence in the case where they have come to physical harm. In fact it is the true that clinical negligence cases can be made on the basis of psychological harm as well. Psychological harm could include emotional harm, loss of dignity, financial loss or even the neglect of legal right.

It could be the case that you have lost your job due to the amount of time you had to have off work to recover from the harm causes.

Can you take legal action against the NHS?

Many people believe that they are unable to take legal action against the NHS either because it is a large medical institution or because it is a free service, but this is not the case, and the NHS is legally bound to provide a proper level of medical care. Of course in the majority of cases, the NHS is very good and problems are rare, but there are still occasions where treatment or care is not up to the right standard.

So whether you have suffered harm as a result of NHS treatment or in a private hospital, it is possible to make a claim. There are laws every citizen should know. It’s good to know that there are many medical negligence success stories. In any case, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as you believe that clinical negligence may have occurred as this will give you the best chance to achieving a positive resolution.

Clinical negligence: what are your rights? – words Al Woods

 

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