In 2014, the NHS was ordered to pay out a record £24.2million for medical negligence when 10 year old Maisha Najeeb had glue accidentally injected into her brain. She was left with permanent brain damage and her life changed forever.
Unfortunately, cases of medical negligence are on the rise. The BBC reported in September last year there had been a significant increase in claims with £1.4bn paid out in 2016 alone.
While the medical profession do an outstanding job the majority of the time, when mistakes occur, it can have catastrophic consequences.
If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence, we’ve put together some important things you need to know when making a claim.
There is a time limit
There is a limit on the amount of time you have to make a claim known as limitation. With medical negligence cases this is three years from the time you became aware that you had suffered injury as a result of substandard care.
There are exceptions to this rule. If it is a child who has been a victim of negligence, the three year time limit starts on their 18th birthday. The other exception is if the person is suffering from mental illness or lacks capacity. The time limit does not start until they regain capacity and recover.
There are many different types of medical negligence
Medical negligence claims are a particular type of personal injury claim and can encompass a variety of different areas.
They can include but are not limited to the following:
*Misdiagnosis – failure to correctly diagnose a condition
*Pregnancy and birth injury (including stillbirths)
*Anaesthetic injury claims
*Negligence in relation to surgery
You can claim for cosmetic negligence
Cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever with an increasing number of people opting to go under the knife. There has also been an upsurge in the number of men having cosmetic surgery.
However, as with any type of surgery it carries risks including infection and complications with anaesthetic.
There are several different types of cosmetic treatments including breast implants, rhinoplasty (surgery of the nose) and skin resurfacing. Complications that can arise include nerve damage and unexpected scarring. Mistakes can even happen with relatively simple procedures such as Botox injections.
You can claim compensation for any losses and injury suffered
Medical negligence can have far-reaching consequences and be potentially life-changing. Therefore, there are several areas you may potentially be able to claim for including:
- Compensation for the suffering and pain you have endured
- The cost of adapting your home
- The cost of any equipment or care you may need
- Payment for ongoing treatment
- Loss of earnings
- Compensation for the psychological effects
- Compensation if you can no longer take part in activities or hobbies you had previously enjoyed
Medical negligence claims don’t just apply to the NHS
Many of us automatically assume we are talking about the NHS when we think about healthcare. However, there are several other outlets where you may have received treatment that has gone wrong.
Clinical negligence can occur across the spectrum of the medical profession including dental care, cosmetic surgery, pharmacy or private physiotherapy.
You must be able to prove negligence and causation
For your claim of medical negligence to be successful, you will have to be able to prove the following:
- That you received a substandard level of care below that which is expected in a reasonably competent health care professional
- That the mental or physical injury you have sustained is a direct result of the negligence
Therefore, for your case to be successful it is not enough to prove that a professional has done something wrong. You have to also show that this has caused you significant injury.
You will need to provide as much information and evidence as you can
A solicitor will look at all the details of your case and see if it is strong enough to take on. Keeping a detailed record of everything that has happened as well as receipts for treatment you have had to have as a result of the negligence will help your case.
Once we have established what happened we will initially obtain your medical records which will then be sent to an independent medical expert who will put together a report. Once we have established that we have enough evidence we will either issue legal proceedings or try to negotiate a settlement. Many clinical negligence cases can be settled without the need to go to trial.
Medical staff involved in negligence have to apologise and be held accountable
Regulations introduced into the Health and Social Care Act in 2014 ensure that medical and social care staff have to be open and transparent with patients when things go wrong.
The Duty of Candour is a legal requirement which states that when things go wrong with treatment and care health professionals must inform patients about the incident, provide reasonable support, provide truthful information and issue an apology.
Have you been affected by medical negligence?
We know how distressing and potentially catastrophic it can be if you’re affected by medical negligence. These claims are by their nature complex and it is essential you have an experienced solicitor who will be able to ensure the very best outcome for you.
Here at Emerald Law, our clinical negligence solicitors will listen to all the details of your situation and give you a free and impartial judgement as to whether a claim is likely to succeed.