April 23, 2014

Understanding your rights if you’ve been hurt as a result of medical treatment


Every day in the UK, a number of people are hurt as a result of medical treatment that goes wrong. But what are your rights if this has happened to you or a member of your family?

Risks with medical treatments  

The issue of sub-standard medical care has been the subject of recent press attention following the public inquiry into the poor standards of care identified at Mid Staffordshire hospital.

However, problems have also occured at GPs’ practices, in nurse’s rooms, at dentists and many other healthcare facilities. There are few medical treatments that can be considered risk-free, and if medical professionals responsible for treatments fail to provide a good standard of care while carrying them out, the chances of something going wrong may be significantly increased. 

 What is medical negligence?

Medical or clinical negligence is the term used for incidents in which a patient has been injured or death has occurred as the result of sub-standard care from a medical professional.

Examples of clinical negligence may include:

  • making a mistake during surgery
  • making an incorrect diagnosis
  • prescribing the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage
  • failing to provide necessary treatment
  • failing to obtain consent for providing a treatment
  • failing to advise about the risks of treatment carried out.   

Medical professionals may include:

  • GPs
  • Private doctors
  • Surgeons
  • Nurses
  • Dentists
  • Midwives
  • Osteopaths
  • Mental health professionals
  • Opticians
  • Ambulance teams.

 Medical negligence claims  

If you have been hurt as a result of medical treatment that was negligent, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

There were 13,761 medical negligence claims made against NHS trusts between April 2011 and April 2012, according to figures from the NHS litigation Authority (NHS LA).

Claims have been for sub-standard medical care that has resulted in:

  • Birth injuries to infants
  • Still births
  • Injuries during surgery or procedures
  • Contractions of MRSA and other infections
  • Damage or pain from anaesthetic errors
  • Psychiatric problems
  • Effects from neglect

Your rights

If it can be proved that you or a member of your family has suffered medical negligence you have a right to claim against the medical professional responsible.

Claims should be made within three years of the medical negligence occurring, or from the time you first had knowledge that malpractice had occurred. Exceptions may be made for claims for children, or patients that have suffered mental incapacity.

You should receive compensation relative to the extent of the injuries and pain suffered and the consequences, and to help recover any financial expenses you incurred. These may be related to loss of income, the cost of resulting medical conditions and prescriptions, care costs and legal expenses.

 Making a claim

 Personal injury solicitors can help you understand if you have a case for a claim. Choose a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers to find a suitable solicitor with the necessary accreditations and specialist expertise.

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