Medical Negligence - Do I Have A Claim?

"We put our faith, and sometimes our lives, in the hands of medical professionals. When we ask for help we expect to get the right answers and the right care."

To win a claim, we must prove two vital things: these are known as "breach of duty" and "medical causation".

Breach of duty means that there must be a breach of the duty of care that you received from a medical professional. Medical causation means that the breach of duty must have caused you to have suffered in some way, shape, or form.

The common breaches that are involved in medical negligence cases are:

Medical Mistakes

If a mistake is made during a procedure or treatment, you could have a good chance of winning a claim for personal injury compensation.

We must prove that a mistake has been made, which can usually be done with expert evidence. If you have suffered an adverse affect that is not expected or foreseen, it sounds like a case of medical malpractice.

Most commonly this happens during operations. Typical examples include:

  • Accidental incisions
  • Leaving something in a wound, or in the body
  • Wrong removal of tissue or organs
  • Failing to do something that was promised
  • Unnecessary aggressive surgical techniques causing injury

If you are the victim of something that should not have happened, and you have suffered as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.

Failure to Warn You Properly

Most medical procedures and treatments carry with them many inherent risks. Normally you accept these risks when opting to go ahead with any procedure or treatment recommended by an expert.

But if they fail to warn or properly warn you of any potential dangers or unwanted affects, you may have a claim if you may have chosen a different path if you had have been properly warned and advised.

Failure to Diagnose or Wrong Diagnosis

You should always be seen by an expert with the experience and knowledge to accurately diagnose you. But if you are seen by someone who isn't properly qualified, or if you are given an incorrect diagnosis, you may be eligible to claim for compensation.

If the failure has led to the wrong treatment, or not being provided treatment which has exacerbated your suffering or caused another unwanted affects, you may be able to claim for this. For many injuries and conditions there is a specific window of opportunity to treat you. Missing this vital window could even lead to lifelong problems.

Common examples:

  • Missed fractures leading to discharge without proper advice or intervention. This can cause further pain and complications.
  • Wrongly assuming you are suffering from just a strain or minor soft tissue damage when you may have ruptured or torn ligaments. This is common for knee ligament injuries where there is often a window of just a few weeks to have corrective surgery, or you may be left with lifelong problems.
  • Failing to diagnose an internal problem like appendicitis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. An even more serious scenario would be failing to diagnose cancer.
  • Failing to diagnose the severity of a condition or injury leading to complications – like back and neck problems.

You could end up weight bearing on an injured leg that you shouldn't be, or you may end up using your back when you should be resting. These can all cause further problems.

Remember:

Proving your claim comes down to proving that something should have been picked up. Sometimes scans or x-ray images may not show a fracture, making diagnosis difficult. If it is difficult to diagnose a problem, arrangements should be in place for follow up investigation.

Failure to Investigate

Following on from the above, this could be a failure to properly investigate at the start, or a failure to do any follow up investigation if an initial diagnosis is difficult. When a patient presents certain symptoms, experts should know what tests to perform to make a diagnosis. If you present symptoms that should have warned a medical professional to take steps which they failed to do, they can be negligent.

A failure to follow up can equally be negligent.

Failure to Treat or Wrong Treatment

This is often a result of an incorrect diagnosis. If the real cause of your suffering is not identified, it’s likely you will end up not being given the vital treatment required to help you recover.

In theory, treatment should be given as soon as it is needed, but as stretched as the NHS is, mistakes can be made. There could be an unnecessary delay in your referral for treatment which again could complicate an injury or a condition. If you are treated, and further follow up treatment is needed but is not provided in time or at all, there may be a case to answer for if you suffer as a result.

Common Examples:

  • Failing to perform surgery within the window of opportunity leading to irreversible damage; like fused bones or permanent nerve damage.
  • Failing to provide physiotherapy or other rehabilitation treatment leading to unnecessary prolonged suffering.
  • Failing to treat the extent of an injury or problem, like a back or neck injury.
  • Needlessly operating or removing tissue, or even a body part.
  • Being given the wrong medication resulting in prolonged suffering or even unnecessary adverse affects. You may also be given medication you shouldn't be having due to allergies which may be missed.
  • Being given the incorrect dose of medication, whether it's an overdose or underdose, that causes further problems or prolonged suffering.

Whether the failure to treat you has caused unnecessary suffering or complications, we may be able to help you claim.

Pressure Sores

Pressure sores, if left undiagnosed or untreated, can lead to serious complications. Pressure sore claims are fairly common and we have helped many victims claim compensation for suffering as a result of a failure to properly manage them.

It's important to know your rights, particularly because untreated and unmanaged pressure sores can lead to serious infections and complications.

Medical Causation

As mentioned earlier, we must prove that the breach of duty has then caused injury or suffering. For example, if a professional failed to diagnose you and this led to a prolonged period of suffering or a complication, the value of the claim is based on that period of prolonged suffering or the complication. However, if there was no pain or complication, you haven’t really been put at any loss. As such, blame still lie with the medical professional for failing to take appropriate action, but if you haven’t suffered as a result, there may not be anything to claim for.

When you make a claim for compensation, you are claiming for the pain, suffering, and loss of amenity caused by an injury or a condition, as well as lost earnings or other out of pocket expenses. If there isn't any pain or loss then there may be no claim to make.

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