When we trust professionals to help us, we don’t just want them to do a good job; we need to know that our time, money, and trust haven’t been misplaced. This is true in many areas of life, but it’s scarcely more important than when it comes to our healthcare.
Medical negligence can leave its victims stressed, hurt, and under new financial burdens that make life harder to manage. This is why a medical negligence case cannot be left to fade into the background, and victims of medical negligence shouldn’t simply be expected to quietly adjust to their new reality.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence, also known as clinical negligence and medical malpractice (a term more common in the U.S.), is an instance in which a medical professional has neglected their duties in some way. This results in substandard care that leaves the patient with injuries or conditions that they may not have suffered if their care had been of a more satisfactory quality.
Examples of medical negligence can come about for many different reasons. It could be that a GP misdiagnoses a patient which adversely affects their treatment, or that lack of due skill, care, or attention adversely affects a patient undergoing surgery, labour, dental treatment, or something else.
In order to make a claim for medical negligence, it must be proven that you received negligent care which resulted in injuries, or exacerbated your existing condition in a way that could and should have been avoided.
Medical negligence can get complex due to the nature of medical care often being inexact or hard to anticipate. Many medical procedures can present risks and side effects, and medical professionals may misdiagnose a condition despite their best efforts due to its rarity or the complexity of a patient’s symptoms.
For example, if a patient agrees to a treatment which is common for their specific condition and they’re made fully aware of the risks associated with that treatment, that patient is highly unlikely to have a medical negligence case if one of the risks materialises (provided the treatment was delivered to appropriate standards). The patient consented to the treatment and knew the possibilities.
However, medical negligence is common enough to have cost the NHS billions in recent years, so litigation is often able to establish clear instances of substandard care.
Which are the most common type of medical negligence cases?
Medical care covers a wide range of practices and needs from joint pain to dentistry to childbirth. However, there are some kinds of medical care that are much more common than others, due to the commonality of certain diseases, medical conditions, or life events.
Information revealed by a 2022 Freedom of Information request shows that the highest root cause of medical negligence lies in wrong diagnoses, or a failure or delay in making a diagnosis. Emergency medicine receives the majority of claims as a single department, with just shy of 1,000 more claims than its closest entry for the years 2017/18 – 2020/21.
For the specific nature of the complaints, unnecessary pain comprises the highest number of cases, with fatalities the second, and additional/unnecessary surgeries being third.
Unnecessary pain relates not so much to the idea that a patient should be absolutely free of pain throughout any and all medical treatment, but more to the burden on healthcare providers to manage a patient’s pain. This could be inadequate pain relief being administered, or it could be patients being left in unfavourable positions for extended periods of time, such as elderly patients confined to beds being left to develop pressure sores.
In cases of misdiagnosis, cancer is a commonly occurring factor, with two figures representing cancer and advanced stage cancer cases respectively. Combined, these make up 558 claims for the time period—which then outnumbers fatalities to come second only to unnecessary pain cases.
This reveals a crucial aspect of substandard care, in that though the specific nature of the cases can vary widely—be it related to brain damage or a fracture—it’s the failure to recognise the severity of a patient’s case and the true nature of their condition that represents the overarching cause of medical negligence.
What can be done about medical negligence?
The NHS have made efforts to combat medical negligence from within. They have established their Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) team, who collate and analyse patient data to try and pinpoint areas for change and development, aiming to improve patient care and treatment.
However, examples of medical negligence are bound to still happen, and when they do, you need a source of expert medical negligence advice and guidance to find out whether you have a claim, and how to go about pursuing that claim.
Working with solicitors to pursue a medical negligence claim is quite different to simply chasing compensation from an accident, as so many daytime TV adverts try to encourage. Medical negligence can leave people with lifechanging injuries or worsened conditions, forcing them to adjust to thoughts, feelings, and ways of living that they never had to contend with before.
Furthermore, it must be remembered that many of these effects from medical negligence cases should never have come about in the first place.
That’s why victims of negligence need to get the very best care and advice, so that they have a chance to rebalance their lives whilst receiving the crucial attention and compassion that was missing from their medical care.
Mark Reynolds Solicitors have a strong team of ethical legal professionals waiting to help you in Liverpool and surrounding areas. If you have a case of medical negligence or you simply need to find out if you’ve suffered substandard care, call us today for a free initial consultation.
To find out more and gain our help, contact us today.