What Factors Are Involved In Clinical Negligence Claims?
17th July 2013
Many people who have experienced problems caused by mistreatment or malpractice contact Burnley medical negligence solicitors to help them make a claim for compensation. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the claimant finds out they are unable to make a medical negligence claim, as in reality, there are a lot of issues that relate to this field of personal injury law.
Patient grievances are not enough to succeed in clinical negligence claims. Patients must be able to demonstrate that they suffered from a personal injury, and that this was directly caused by the negligence of a healthcare provider. So how do they do this?
Personal injuries in clinical negligence claims
People who make a medical negligence claim must be able to show that they suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of a healthcare practitioner. Personal injuries due not necessarily have to be wounds – psychological and mental health problems can also occur due to malpractice. For instance, if someone is falsely told they have cancer, they will undoubtedly experience a lot of anxiety, fear and stress, which could even lead to mental health problems such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. If they are later told that they were misdiagnosed and did not have cancer, they might be able to make a personal injury claim for their psychological distress.
The claim must be made within three years of the date on which the personal injury was noticed. This can be a long time after the date on which the medical negligence occurred – for instance, when surgical tools are inadvertently left in a patient’s body post-operation, it can be many years until they are eventually noticed. The three-year statute of limitations commences from the date on which they were noticed, instead of the date of the operation.
What constitutes medical negligence?
Everyone makes mistakes in their professional life and nobody is perfect. Furthermore, some illnesses are particularly difficult to treat and to diagnose accurately, and doctors frequently misdiagnose these conditions. Some procedures – such as surgery or radiotherapy – carry inherent risks that cannot be avoided. Patients should give informed consent before going through with these procedures, and if the surgery goes wrong, the patient will not necessarily be able to claim medical negligence compensation as a result.
It is not enough to prove that a doctor made a mistake or that treatment was inadequate if a person is to make a medical negligence claim. Instead, claimants have to demonstrate that a competent doctor would not have made the same mistake, or would have remedied the error before it led to a serious personal injury.
If a claimant gave informed consent to a procedure and suffered a personal injury they had been informed about, they may still be able to claim compensation if it can be shown that the injury was caused through negligence.
Medical negligence is not necessarily caused by poor behaviour by doctors and nurses. Any other employee in a healthcare facility – from receptionists to technicians – can be cited in clinical negligence claims. Broken machinery or damaged equipment can also lead to personal injuries and can play a role in these cases.
Causation and medical negligence
Causation is also a key element in medical negligence compensation claims. It is not enough to show that a healthcare professional made an error – for the claim to succeed, it must be demonstrated that this mistake directly caused the claimant to suffer personal injuries.
Usually, this is relatively straightforward. For instance, if a doctor removes a healthy kidney rather than a diseased kidney from a patient with kidney problems, it will be obvious that the mistake directly caused the patient to sustain the injury.
Problems arise when a number of factors could be considered to have caused the injuries. If someone is let out of hospital when they are still drowsy from medicines, and they get behind the wheel of their car and are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the hospital will not be considered wholly responsible for the injuries they sustain in the car crash. However, they still may be able to make a medical negligence claim, as well as a car accident compensation claim, although they may be found to have contributed to their own personal injuries.
Are you unsure whether or not you have a claim for compensation? Why not speak to our Burnley clinical negligence solicitors for free advice? Just call us on 08000 430 430 or fill in our online enquiry form to find out whether or not you can make a claim for compensation. We provide clear, no-nonsense advice about your eligibility and can help you start making a claim and building your case today!