Doctor with face mask

What are the effects of making a medical negligence claim?

For most people with little or no understanding of the law, the whole area of medical negligence can seem complicated, even a little daunting. It can put people off pursuing claims, even when they feel they have a legitimate reason to make one. They might feel it’s financially prohibitive to make a claim, or that their case isn’t serious.

As specialist medical negligence solicitors, we talk to lots of people whose lives have been impacted by treatment that fell below an appropriate standard. They often voice a range of concerns about their claim, some of which we look at here.

Can I prevent the same thing happening to others?

People often presume that the main motivation for making a medical negligence claim is financial – That the claimant is seeking financial redress for what happened to them. Perhaps their careers suffered as a result, or they incurred lots of extra unexpected costs. Maybe they are looking for financial compensation for the pain and mental anguish they experienced as a result of negligence.

Some medical negligence claims involve procedures that were deeply traumatic resulting in ongoing stress and other mental health issues. The medical negligence process is designed to provide compensation that puts the victim in the position they were in before the incident happened. Strictly speaking, the aim is restitution rather than compensation.

While it would be wrong to downplay the importance of financial compensation for a victim of medical negligence, in most cases, it only plays a small part in their reasons for pursuing a claim.

Many want to ensure that a similar incident doesn’t happen to anyone else. They want proper attention to be paid to what happened to them and for tangible action to be taken. They may initially have had little intention of pursuing a medical negligence claim but were prompted to do so by frustration at how their complaint was dealt with. If they feel they have something important to share with the clinician and it has been dismissed, then they may feel that a claim is the only course of action left to them. They may not feel listened to and that communication has completely broken down between themselves and the clinician. They may no longer trust the clinician or the medical practice to take adequate action. They may feel their complaint is not being taken seriously and their concerns are dismissed.

If this is the case and the claimant is keen to ensure that no-one else should be the victim of anything similar, then a medical negligence claim may be the only route forward. By making the claim you can prompt the professional involved and the employer to investigate the incident further. This can lead to action being taken to minimise risk and a change in practice. Medical negligence claims have in the past been a catalyst for major changes in how some treatments are delivered.

Will a medical negligence claim affect my treatment going forward?

No two medical negligence claims are the same, but it can take between 12-36 months to complete a medical negligence claim. This length of time can be a concern for people, particularly if they’re in need of ongoing medical treatment.

People considering making a medical negligence claim often raise concerns about how it might impact on their future treatment, particularly in the year to three years when the claim is being considered. They may have limited alternative options locally for their treatment. They worry that their treatment will be disrupted or will somehow suffer.

This should not be the case. In fact, medical practitioners are legally required to provide the same level of treatment even if you have made a medical negligence claim against them.  You may feel personally uncomfortable being treated by the person against whom you are making the claim. Trust plays a large part in medical treatment and if you no longer have confidence in a medical practitioner then it’s not unreasonable to ask to be seen by another clinician. Most medical establishments will want to honour your request.

Medical practices in the UK are not allowed to refuse treatment to someone who has made a complaint in the past.  If you decide to move GP practices no record of your claim should be passed onto them. If you remain at the same practice you should be treated no differently because of your claim. If you feel that you are being treated differently it’s important to complain to the practice manager, or to your solicitor who will be able to offer advice about how you should proceed. The practice cannot attempt to force you to change to a different practice.

In practice, most medical providers have well worked out complaint procedures. These should ensure that your complaint and your treatment are kept entirely separate. They should try to ensure that you are treated fairly and that your claim is never mentioned during your treatment.

No one makes the decision to make a medical negligence claim lightly and claimants always have a range of concerns. Fear of being treated differently by medical practitioners due to making a claim shouldn’t influence your decision.

Is a claim only about money?

If you were to believe the tabloid press, people who make medical negligence claims are largely motivated by personal greed, aided and abetted by legal firms out to make money on the back of someone else’s misfortune.

The caricature is far from the truth. Medical negligence claims are complicated and lengthy processes with no guarantee of success. If a claim is successful, the settlement offered may well be modest. The aim of the medical negligence process is not to offer compensation, but restitution. Any settlement is not designed to lead to a life of luxury for the claimant. Instead it is about ensuring they have a similar quality of life to that which they had prior to the incident. Medical negligence solicitors always spell this out to potential claimants from the very beginning. If anyone is entering the medical negligence process with thoughts of making money, then they are misguided.

Talking to clients, we find they have a range of different motivations for pursuing a claim. Firstly, there is the distress, pain and inconvenience that has been caused by the incident. People lose their jobs, sometimes relationships, they can no longer enjoy activities they once enjoyed, and find their lives severely limited by medical negligence. In some cases, the negligence can ultimately lead to premature death.  

Most of them will already have made a complaint about what happened to them not expecting to have to take the process any further. The response they received through the complaints procedure may not have addressed their concerns. They may feel they weren’t listened to, or that the approach of the professionals dealing with their complaint was dismissive. This can lead to intense frustration and feelings of powerlessness. People are often at their wits end when they approach us having exhausted every available option short of making a claim.

High levels of trust are placed in medical professionals and when it’s felt that this trust has broken down it can leave claimants feeling bewildered. These emotional responses can all play a part in why people decide to pursue a claim, but without real substance to the claim a legal professional is unlikely to take on the case.

They may hope to receive a proper apology for what happened to them and to find closure for what has been a traumatic incident. This can be just as important as any financial payment when it comes to helping someone move on with their life.

Ensuring that the incident is properly investigated and lessons are learnt is another key motivation. Claimants don’t want something similar to happen to anyone else.  They may want the clinicians involved to be properly held to account for their mistakes.

The reasons for pursuing a medical negligence claim are complex and varied. No two cases are the same, but money is rarely, if ever, the principal motivation for our clients.

What happens to the doctors and nurses involved in my claim?

It may be surprising, but one of the main concerns of people making a medical negligence claim is what might happen to the doctors and nurses involved in the initial incident. People are genuinely concerned that the impact on the lives and careers of the professionals involved might be detrimental to the point of career ending.

There are high levels of respect for the NHS in the UK. Doctors and nurses are trusted much more than members of other professions. In most cases we may feel that any medical negligence of which we were a victim was a rare mistake on behalf of the individual, rather than part of a consistent pattern. That’s mostly the case. Medical professionals are highly trained individuals who operate within strict frameworks designed to minimise mistakes and ensure patient care. But these frameworks are not foolproof and even the most diligent of professionals can make mistakes. When that professional is a doctor or other health professional, the consequences can be drastic for the patient.

When a medical negligence claim is made the health professional in question will likely seek advice and support from their particular professional body, such as the British Medical Association or the Royal College of Nursing. They may receive support in their workplace, which is likely to have a tried and tested procedure for dealing with medical negligence claims.

It’s possible there will be an internal investigation into what happened in this specific case. A claim also highlights areas where staff need further training or improvement can be made to the process, or new processes introduced.

Medical indemnity insurance is a legal requirement for any medical professional working in the UK. This insures them and their practice against medical negligence claims, so neither the professional nor the practice will be left out of pocket should your claim be successful. This reflects the understanding that mistakes do sometimes happen and that medical negligence claims may sometimes be unavoidable.

In some instances, the medical negligence claim may be so severe and life-changing that the claimant is keen to ensure the practitioner faces consequences for their action. Pursuing a claim can be a way to prove that a serious mistake happened and that the professional involved should not be practising. A successful claim may in some cases lead to a lengthy suspension, or a requirement that the professional undergoes further training. In some cases, the negligence incident may be so severe that that they are never allowed to practice again.

Medical negligence claims are not uncommon across the health sector and most organisations will have developed procedures for dealing with them. This will include ensuring that professionals involved are supported throughout the claim, and that adequate action is taken to resolve the issue. Employers will also be keen to ensure that health practitioners are conducting their duties at a satisfactory level and will support them in acquiring or re-acquiring the appropriate skills to ensure incidents don’t reoccur.

By not proceeding with a medical negligence claim you may feel you are helping a professional who you think made an honest mistake. In reality, complaints and medical negligence claims can be the necessary prompt to ensure that a similar mistake doesn’t happen again.

Talk to the medical negligence specialists

If you feel you have been the victim of medical negligence and you don’t feel that your complaint has been properly dealt with, then our team of experienced medical negligence specialists would be happy to hear from you. We can provide confidential and impartial advice about your circumstances and explore if a claim might be appropriate.

Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help.

Dentist chair

What dental injuries can lead to a medical negligence claim?

For many of us a visit to the dentist is never something we look forward to. When we do visit, perhaps in need of emergency treatment, or perhaps for cosmetic work, we hope it will give us more confidence and we fully expect it to be problem-free.

Most of the time, the treatment people receive at the dentist is of the highest standard, and whatever fears they had at the beginning they are happy with the work. Occasionally, however, things can go wrong. When it does it can lead to significant pain, disfigurement and trauma.

In such instances, it may be possible to pursue a medical negligence compensation claim.

Read more about dental negligence claims

What is dental negligence?

A dental negligence claim is a claim in one category of medical negligence. As with other forms of clinical negligence a claim can be made if you have sustained any form of personal injury while undergoing dental treatment. As well as physical injury, this can include psychological harm or financial loss. Negligence occurs when anyone responsible for your treatment causes harm to a patient, through a mishap or a mistake. This can be the dentist themselves, or a member of the nursing or care staff.

How common is dental negligence?

Thousands of dental procedures are carried out in the UK every day. Considering the numbers, you might presume that dental negligence is common. Thankfully, most dental practitioners operate to the highest of standards, and negligence is relatively rare. Historically, fewer than 10,000 cases of medical negligence are recorded in the UK every year.

However, the number of cases has risen considerably over the past few years. This rise is primarily put down to the increase in cosmetic dentistry. These procedures bring with them a range of extra risks. Cosmetic dental procedures can be complex, intrusive and require major reconstruction of the teeth, jaw bones, and gums. Therefore, the risks associated with cosmetic dentistry are generally higher than with remedial or preventative work.

What kind of dental injuries can lead to a medical negligence claim?

The most common types of dental medical negligence will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Poorly executed surgical procedures – any kind of surgical procedure, from a filling to a full set of implants, can potentially go wrong. If something does go wrong, then a medical negligence claim can be made.
  • Poorly managed anaesthesia – a surgical procedure will usually require the administration of either local or general anaesthetic. If something goes wrong, and the application of anaesthetic results in an injury, or another type of health problem for the patient, then a medical negligence claim can usually be made.
  • Misdiagnosis – if a problem is missed when you undergo a dental examination, or you are sold dental work that isn’t necessary, then this counts as misdiagnosis. If the subsequent treatment or neglect results in injury, then you may be able to make a claim for medical negligence.
  • Inadequate patient care – either during or after treatment has taken place, the patient should be given the necessary standard of care to help aid their recovery. If it isn’t, and injury or harm ensues as a result, then a claim for medical negligence may be able to be made.

Are there different types of dental medical negligence claims?

When it comes to making a medical negligence claim much depends on how the injury was caused, and the circumstances that led to it.

A dental practitioner could be guilty of one of the following types of negligence:

  • Contributory negligence – in a case of contributory negligence, the victim themselves have been negligent, which has led to the injury. In most of these cases, the victim is unlikely to receive any compensation.
  • Comparative negligence – in cases of comparative negligence, both the dental practitioner and the victim are both deemed as somehow culpable for the injury. These can be the trickiest cases for legal professionals to pursue, and they will nearly always be lengthy. The legal process will usually result in a court case, where the correct amount of blame will be apportioned between the two parties. If more blame lies with the practitioner, then compensation may be awarded.
  • Vicarious liability – in this case, partial blame is being apportioned to a third party for the injury caused. It might be a claim against the supplier of a particular piece of medical equipment that failed, resulting in injury. Or it could be a claim against the company that employs the dentist, which has failed to meet the required statutory health regulations, resulting in injury to the patient.
  • Gross negligence – this is the most serious and least common type of dental medical negligence case. It’s only pursued when there’s evidence that a dental practitioner has blatantly disregarded the health and well-being of a patient. There are a number of ways in which this could happen. The practitioner could be under the influence of drugs, or alcohol while performing a procedure, or they could act recklessly out of anger or because they’re distracted.

What kind of dental treatments might lead to a medical negligence claim?

Any number of dental treatments can result in injury which might then prompt a medical negligence claim.

  • Inadequate root canal therapy
  • Failed implants
  • Extracting the wrong tooth
  • Failing to properly manage and treat tooth decay
  • Inadequate fillings
  • Inadequate crowns
  • Failing to manage gum disease (periodontal disease)

Cosmetic dentistry claims

As the amount of cosmetic dentistry undertaken increases year-on-year, the number of claims for medical negligence relating to cosmetic dentistry has also increased. These cases include accidents during bleaching, porcelain veneers, crowns, bridgework and orthodontic work. Botox, hyaluronic acid and dermal fillers can all be administered incorrectly, and a claim may be possible as a result.

Dental implants

If you have missing teeth, then you may be recommended dental implants. These can be transformative, giving people new confidence. There can be problems, however, in how they’re fitted. Resolving problems with incorrectly fitted implants can prove painful and costly. Claiming compensation can help raise the funds to pay for corrective treatment and can help make sure that no-one else suffers in the same way.

What can be claimed?

When a claim is made for dental negligence tangible and intangible costs will need to be calculated. Some of these costs are easy to calculate, others are more complex. A judicial framework provides some guidance, and your solicitor will be able to advise what might apply in your case.

Most dental negligence cases will involve one or more of the following types of negligence:

  • Special damages – all non-physical costs are included in this category, such as being forced to cancel a holiday, or being unable to take up work if you’re self-employed.
  • General damages – this includes any medical damage that was done such as pain, mobility or psychological trauma.
  • Care costs –any extra care assistance that is required because of your injury.
  • Loss of current and future earnings – the impact the injury has had on your working life.
  • Medical expenses – out of pocket expenses that the claimant has had to pay, such as corrective treatment.
  • Travel costs – any out of pocket expenses that have been incurred because of having to travel for treatment.

What to do if you think you’ve been a victim of medical negligence

As with any legal process that requires adjudication, evidence will need to be presented on both sides. These will either prove or disprove the claim so it’s important to do all you can to strengthen your claim.

Here’s some steps you can take:

  • Document your injury – visit a doctor or a hospital to have your injury treated. This will create an impartial medical record that details your injury. Make sure that you ask whoever treats your injury to record how long they think it will take for the injury to heal, and how long it’s likely to take.
  • Collect important information – find out the names of any of the team who assisted the dentist in carrying out your treatment. Find out the name of the company who owns the dental clinic if it’s a private practice or a cosmetic dental clinic.
  • Record the financial impact of the injury – if you’ve lost income, or had to miss work as a result, the cost of medication, had to take unexpected journeys for treatment, or had to pay for corrective treatment out of your own pocket, then these should all be written down.
  • Contact a dental negligence solicitor – a specialist medical negligence solicitor will be able to advise you as to the strength of your claim. At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we can represent you on a no-win, no-fee basis if we believe your case stands a good chance of success.

Call Mark Reynolds Solicitors for professional dental negligence advice

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we can provide confidential professional advice about your potential dental medical negligence case. If you feel you have suffered dental medical negligence, call us on 0800 022 957 to speak to one of our experienced team.

Patient in hospital bed

How to know if you have an iron infusions medical negligence claim

Over recent years the practice of administering medical iron infusions have come under closer scrutiny from both the media and medical professionals. They are prescribed to help treat and prevent iron deficiency anaemia. Occasionally, however, there can be issues with how the infusion is administered.

When it goes wrong the effects can be long-lasting. When that’s the case, it’s possible to make a medical negligence claim for compensation.

What is an iron infusion?

Iron infusions are used when dietary changes and iron supplements have proven ineffective in treating iron deficiency. They’re usually administered via injection, or by a drip straight into the vein in a procedure that lasts between 30 minutes and an hour.

Like most medical procedures, they come with a range of potential side-effects. The potential side effects of iron infusions can include:

  • Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet.
  • Dizziness, faintness, or light-headedness when getting up suddenly from a sitting or lying position.
  • Gastrointestinal pains such as nausea or cramps.
  • Problems with breathing.
  • Skin problems, including rashes.
  • Chest pains.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can include difficulty breathing, itching, or a rash that can cover the whole body).
  • Extravasation injury (damage caused by the loss of the solution from the vessel into the surrounding tissue spaces during an intravenous infusion. It can cause long term discolouration, ongoing pain and a loss of mobility).

If you have undergone an iron infusion procedure and you feel it fell below a minimum professional standard of competence, resulting in an avoidable physical or psychological injury, you may well be able to make a medical negligence claim.

How does a claim work?

Clinical negligence cases can be complex and may take some time to reach a conclusion. A claimant in an iron infusion medical negligence case will need to prove fault on the part of medical healthcare professionals, and they will need to establish that there has been avoidable harm that has impacted you personally. This is known as causation.

This can make medical negligence claims appear daunting, and it often prevents people from making a claim, even in cases where they have a reasonable chance of success. With the right support, expertise and legal knowledge working with you, the whole process becomes much more straightforward.

What proof do I need?

Medical negligence cases need to be built on evidence. The more evidence you can provide the more likely your case will be to succeed. The kind of evidence that could be useful are:

  • Medical records
  • Photographs
  • Detailed statements from the claimant
  • Witness statements (these can be from family, friends, and employer or work colleagues)
  • Financial evidence (did side-effects result in you being unable to work? Did you incur costs having subsequent medical treatment?)
  • Any reports from medical experts that can be used as evidence

How much can I claim?

Lots of different factors will be taken into account when working out the value of any compensation claim. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and every case will be different, but the factors are likely to include:

  • Severity of the injury
  • Impact on daily life
  • Length of recovery
  • Loss of earnings and projected earnings
  • Punitive damages

Is my claim likely to succeed?

Any claim for medical negligence can be time-consuming, involved and sometimes distressing. It’s not something that should be entered into without due consideration. The complexity of a medical negligence claim requires specialist legal knowledge. At Mark Reynolds Solicitors we have pursued countless successful medical negligence claims, helping our clients build up the necessary body of evidence and guiding them through the process.

We offer our services on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning that you pay nothing unless your claim is successful. With that in mind, we have no interest in encouraging you to make a claim we don’t feel would have a reasonable chance of success.

For professional and sensitive advice about iron infusion medical negligence claims, call us on 0800 002 9577, or complete our online contact form.

ribbon

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK with statistics sadly showing that 1 in 8 women are diagnosed during their life time.

These statistics indicate that each and every one of us is highly likely to know someone in their lifetime that finds themselves face to face with this disease.

Tireless hours are spent raising awareness for breast cancer, ensuring that the signs and symptoms are known and checking your breasts becomes part of your weekly to do list. This is with the aim of ensuring that anyone who does have concerns knows that their next step should be to immediately present to their GP.

Symptoms of breast cancer include a change in size or shape of one or both breasts, discharge from the nipples, which may be streaked with blood, a lump or swelling in either armpit, dimpling on the skin of the breasts, a rash on or around the nipple, a change in appearance of the nipple such as becoming sunken into the breast.

Diagnosing breast cancer involves a mammography or taking a small sample of breast tissue to be examined. These are often performed following a “two week wait” referral by the GP.

With the awareness that we have and breast cancer being so common, it is tragic to discover that even these measures and precautions do not protect patients from Medical Negligence occurring.

Medical Negligence

Delay in Diagnosis

Medical Negligence may occur if there has been a delay in diagnosis which had led to the cancer getting worse, spreading and ultimately impacting upon prognosis and life expectancy.

Examples of when this delay could occur may be through a failure to refer a patient who presented with symptoms or a failure to investigate further following an examination and or a mammogram.

Our Medical Negligence team are currently supporting the family of a patient who negligently suffered a 12 month delay in diagnosis after a lump was identified on a mammogram but nothing else was done about it. After a 12 month period of returning to her GP and Hospital, the cancer was eventually diagnosed but by this stage it had tragically spread to other parts of the body and the prognosis was terminal.

Had this patient not received negligent treatment this could have resulted in the cancer being recognised at a much earlier stage, requiring less invasive treatment and not such a poor prognosis and ultimately such a tragic result. 

Inappropriate Treatment

Medical Negligence could occur following a diagnosis by way of a failure to correctly identify the stage of the cancer resulting in insufficient treatment, negligent errors during surgery or incorrect monitoring following breast cancer.

Our Medical Negligence team have recently resolved a case in the sum of £75,000.00 which involved reconstruction surgery of the breast following removal of cancerous tissues which left behind unidentified medical gauze in the breast leading to continuous infections. We are extremely pleased that we were able to achieve an excellent settlement for our client after many years of suffering in what could have been an avoidable instance of negligence.

Playing our Part in Raising Awareness

Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors it is vital to us that we play a role in raising awareness for medical conditions and support the life changing research into diagnosis and treatment. 

On Friday 23rd October 2020 we will be participating in ‘Wear it Pink’ day across all of our offices. Our colleagues will each wear something pink to support research and raise awareness for this awful disease.  

If you would like to discuss a possible medical negligence claim relating to Breast Cancer or any other medical failure, please contact one of our medical negligence solicitors on 01925 418 004 or email info@markreynoldssolicitors.co.uk

Iv Drip Inserted In Patient's Hand

Iron Infusions causing Permanent Staining

Here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors we are seeing an increasing number of cases of permanent staining arising from Iron Infusion Treatments.

Iron Infusions are often offered to patients who have iron deficiency anaemia and it is not uncommon for this treatment to be offered during a term of pregnancy. The procedure involves a cannula insertion in which the infusion can be dripped straight into the vein. This should be a pain free procedure and can sometimes result in a minimal amount of bruising at the injection site.

Sadly, many patients have been suffering much more permanent and painful results. These results arise from extravasation of the infusion.

Extravasation Injuries

An extravasation injury is when damage is caused to the surrounding tissue to the injection site as the solution will actually leak from the vessel into neighbouring tissue space. 

Clients who have fallen victim to this type of injury have reported the procedure feeling immediately painful and some noticing their skin around the injured site becoming orange in colour.

Following the procedure, there will remain a darkened area of skin which many of our clients have been reassured at the time is merely bruising, which it is not. It is in fact long-lasting and permanent staining to the skin.

The emotional distress this causes is hard to contemplate and coming to terms with the permanency of this staining can be a big adjustment for anyone to make who has experienced this.

Medical Negligence

Those who are administering Iron Infusions should be appropriately trained, understand the risk of extravasation and make the patient aware of the risk whilst also being able to identify signs and symptoms of extravasation throughout the procedure.

When the standard of care falls below what is required and the above factors are not adhered to, Medical Negligence may have occurred.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors identify when the standard falls below what is expected and ensures that the negligent party is held accountable.

Our Medical Negligence Team have a depth of knowledge surrounding this type of negligence and want to ensure those who have had the misfortune to encounter this negligence are given the guidance and assistance they deserve in making a Medical Negligence Claim.

Most recently, Lisa Musgrave who is one of our Medical Negligence Solicitors, resolved a case relating to a client who attended hospital for a routine iron infusion and was left with permanent staining to the arm. In this case, the negligent hospital failed to correctly consent our client and also failed to undertake the appropriate checks during the infusion.

Lisa ensured that our client was seen by both a Camouflage Makeup Expert and Clinical Psychologist.  The experts made the appropriate recommendations to assist in rehabilitating the client which included access to a lifetime supply of camouflage makeup and further appointments with a Clinical Psychologist. This case was settled in the sum of £30,000.00.

Over recent months we have taken on an increasing number of cases similar to this one and our team continue to support and provide legal advice to any such clients throughout their ongoing claims.

If you would like to discuss a possible medical negligence claim relating to Iron Infusions or any other medical failure, please contact one of our medical negligence solicitors on 01925 418 004 or email info@markreynoldssolicitors.co.uk

Doctor supporting person

What is the process for suing my GP?

No one chooses to take legal action against their GP or hospital doctor without a lot of consideration. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, but in some instances, it is an appropriate one if we feel we have been a victim of medical negligence.

GPs and hospital doctors are highly trained individuals on whom we depend to make important decisions about our health. Most of the time, the treatment we receive is at least satisfactory, but occasionally things can and do go wrong.

Because most of us have high levels of trust in medical professionals, it can sometimes feel bewildering when medical negligence has occurred. Many people are subsequently put off pursuing compensation believing the process is particularly difficult, or that the odds are stacked against them.

Some people are reluctant to instigate a claim against a GP out of a feeling of loyalty, particularly if that GP has looked after their family for a number of years without any previous negligence. They may be concerned about the consequences for their future treatment, or of having to find a new GP.

Issues around GP negligence can be as damaging to an individual’s long-term health and wellbeing as hospital negligence. When the treatment you receive is less than adequate or actively harmful to your future health and wellbeing, there are means to try and gain proper redress.

Understanding GP negligence

The standard of care provided by GPs can vary widely. As a result, the types of possible medical negligence incidents that can occur are numerous.

Some of mistakes that can be made by a GP include:

  • A failure to adequately examine a patient
  • A failure to perform certain tests and examinations
  • A failure to properly review and then act upon an examination or test results
  • The issuing of an incorrect prescription
  • A failure to consult an appropriate specialist or refer the patient to a consultant.
  • A failure to diagnose a serious disease
  • A medical procedure being carried out incorrectly

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is helpful to think about the kind of practices and GP tasks that can lead to possible negligence.

What consequences can GP negligence have?

It’s often presumed that medical negligence is mostly an issue for hospitals, and that there’s little that can happen during a GP consultation that could have severely damaging consequences for the patient. That’s far from the case, with medical negligence in the GP practice there are a variety of incidents that can have a significant impact. For example, failure to refer a patient for cancer investigations can result in the cancer progressing, and the illness becoming much harder to treat.

Prescribing the wrong medication to patients can lead to possible side effects, some of these can be serious with long term debilitating effects. As too can a failure to properly assess how someone was responding to certain treatments, with serious issues such as liver or kidney damage as a possible result.

Serious conditions such as meningitis are sometimes missed. If unstable angina isn’t spotted it can lead to a cardiac arrest, and a failure to correctly diagnose or manage diabetes can result in serious life-limiting consequences for the patient.

Our GPs are usually our first point of contact when we are ill. It’s vital that they properly diagnose any conditions we may have, prescribe the right medication and if necessary, refer us to specialists for further treatment. The failure to do any of those things correctly can result in conditions getting progressively worse.

If you believe your GP failed to properly carry out their duties and you suffered harm as a result, then you might be able to make a successful medical negligence claim.

Make a complaint

The first step many people who believe they have been a victim of medical negligence take is to make a complaint to their GP practice. If your first concern is to receive an apology, or a full explanation of what happened, this should always be your first step. It can be useful not only in helping to provide closure for the individual concerned, but also in ensuring that lessons are learnt and similar mistakes are not made again.

When you are making a complaint, you should try and include the following information:

  • The time and date of your treatment, and where it took place
  • The names of all the individuals involved
  • A description of exactly what happened
  • The reason why you are making your complaint
  • The questions you want answering

You don’t have to make a complaint through the NHS complaints procedure before launching legal action. It can be useful, however, as it may give you more information on which to base your decision about further action. It could also provide valuable information in any medical negligence claim you decide to pursue.

Taking things further

Even if you’ve received an explanation or apology from the individual GP, healthcare practice or provider, it’s still possible to pursue a claim for medical negligence against your doctor.

Medical negligence is a complex area of law and every case is different. Therefore, it’s important to contact a solicitor with experience in the field who will be able to advise you about the likelihood of your claim being successful.

The procedure can feel daunting but our experienced team of medical negligence specialists can provide you with considered advice and support in making your claim.

Will making a claim affect how my GP treats me?

If you’re still under the care of the GP about whom you’re making the claim, or are still registered at the same practice, you may be concerned that the treatment you receive will be influenced by making a claim. GPs are not allowed to treat you any differently just because you’re taking legal action. If you suspect they are, this in itself could be a legal matter.

Is your claim valid?

The first question we will consider is the validity of your medical negligence claim.

For your claim to qualify as medical negligence, it will need to be proven that the medical practitioner was at fault, and that fault caused you harm. In addition to this, medical negligence compensations claims must be filed with the court within 3 years of the incident that caused harm or injury taking place.

There are some exceptions to this time limit, if for example you discovered the harm done to you months or even years after the initial incident. Your specialist medical negligence solicitor will be able to provide you with advice based on the details of your individual case.

You claim will only proceed further if you are able to satisfy two conditions:

  • Liability – it can be shown that your GP was performing at a lower standard than similar professionals in the same field.
  • Causation – you will need to be able to prove that the harm done to you was as a direct result of the negligent action, and otherwise would not have occurred. The balance of probabilities applies, so there will need to be at least a 50% chance that the harm was caused by the initial incident.

Medicine is a constantly evolving science with competing schools of thought. If other doctors are willing to vouch that they too would have undertaken the same course of action as the GP about whom you’re making a case, then your claim is unlikely to go any further.

These questions need to be explored as quickly as possible to ensure that you can make a claim within the time limit. Contacting a specialist solicitor to discuss your case should therefore be a priority.

The time limit

The Time Limitation Act 1980 set out a time limit of 3 years for medical negligence claims to be made. This is known in legal terms as “the date of knowledge”. This could be the date when the negligence occurred, or much later when the harm was discovered. You may be unsure about the exact date when the three years started.

The limit is for formally lodging the claim with the court, not just for contacting a solicitor, so it’s important to act as quickly as you can.

There are some exceptions to the three-year time limit:

  • Under 18s – anyone under the age of 18 when the incident occurred, has three years from the date of their 18th birthday to make a claim in their own right.
  • Mental illness – if the claimant was suffering from a diagnosed mental illness at the time of the incident, the three-year period doesn’t start until they are considered fully recovered.
  • Brain damage – if the injury caused to the claimant was brain damage that resulted in them not being able to conduct their own affairs, then there is no time limit for making a claim.
  • Death – if the claimant dies, either as a result of the negligence or any other cause, the limitation for their family to bring forward a claim is three years from the date of death. If they die while making a claim, then the family have three years from the date of death to decide to continue with the claim.

Assessing your losses

When assessing the claimant’s losses, they will need to be presented in terms of pain and suffering, mental anguish, impact on quality of life, and the loss of earnings, past, present and future. It will need to be demonstrated that these losses are a result of the negligence, not underlying medical conditions. These losses will be calculated by your solicitor, who will consult similar cases in the past and estimate an average pay-out. Any final calculation will of course take inflation into account.

The investigation

This is the lengthiest part of the claim process. Your solicitor will ask for your medical records, including any notes or details that were recorded at the time of the negligence. The solicitor will then put together a written statement containing the details of your claim, which you need to sign. It will then be forwarded to independent medical experts to assess the standard of care you received from your GP.

Once the best course of action has been settled on by all the parties, a formal Letter of Claim will be sent to the practice or doctor in question. The defendant then has four months to respond, either in form of an admittance that the details in the claim are correct, or a refusal of the case.

If they admit the claim, your solicitor can immediately begin negotiating a reasonable settlement. A settlement can be reached any time prior to the case going to court. If the value of your claim cannot be agreed in a timely fashion, then court proceedings may be necessary.

Get in touch for expert medical negligence advice

The process of making a medical negligence claim can feel long and convoluted, but the level of pay-outs can make it worth persevering. If you believe you’ve been a victim of GP negligence our team of experienced medical negligence experts want to hear from you. Get in touch today for confidential advice about your case.

x-ray showing cancer diagnosis

The impact of a delayed cancer diagnosis

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we can provide the legal representation you are looking for if you have been affected by a delayed cancer diagnosis. If an opportunity for diagnosis has been missed and the cancer has developed further than it perhaps otherwise would have, it’s only right that you should decide to take legal action.

Why would a diagnosis be delayed?

A cancer diagnosis can be delayed for many reasons. Tissue samples and smears are sometimes misinterpreted by specialists, as are scans and x-rays. The diagnosis may also be delayed because a detailed investigation was not carried out. Cancers that are sometimes diagnosed later than they could have been include skin, lung, cervical, breast and bowel cancer, as well as lymphoma, carcinoma and others.

You may also wish to take action if you have been diagnosed as having cancer when you didn’t. You may have undergone procedures that were not necessary because of your misdiagnosis or may have experienced great psychological suffering.

What are the risks of late diagnosis?

When cancer is diagnosed too late, the disease can spread throughout the body and make the illness less treatable. This can reduce your chances of survival. It’s vital that medical specialists diagnose cancer as quick as they possibly can, to give you the best chance of making a recovery. An early diagnosis also means your treatment is more likely to be successful. A report carried out by Incisive Health and Cancer Research UK found that around 52,000 cases of colon, rectal, lung and ovarian cancer may have been diagnosed too late each year. Delayed diagnosis can also raise treatment costs, resulting in the NHS paying more to provide care.

Is there always someone to blame?

Delayed diagnosis can happen for many reasons, and it is not always the fault of medical specialists. Some illnesses are diagnosed too late because patients remain unaware of the systems for some time before they seek help. It’s not uncommon for diagnosis to occur too late because patients are too fearful to visit their GP. However, if you do suspect your diagnosis occurred too late because a healthcare provider failed in their duty of care to you, we may be able to help you source compensation and justice.

Why choose Mark Reynolds?

We have a great deal of experience when it comes to handling a wide range of clinical and medical negligence claims. We always aim to get the best possible outcome for our clients, taking our time to understand the nature and impact of the negligence on you and your family. All of our solicitors have received the highest standard of training needed to handle medical negligence claims competently and professionally. For many of our clients, compensation is not the only reason for taking legal action. Equally, it’s about highlighting the issues and ensuring that their case is heard and ultimately acted upon.

Get in touch today

We can help you get closer to the truth and find out why something unpleasant has happened to you when receiving medical care and can reduce the chances of the same thing happening to others in future. To find out more about taking legal action following a delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis, contact us today.

How A Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim Works

We investigate cases relating to the delay in diagnosing cancer here at Mark Reynolds Solicitors. This is a difficult topic, as the diagnosis of cancer always has a profound effect on an individual but to then find out that the cancer may have been diagnosed earlier, is very hard. We find that these clients have a lot of unanswered questions about why their cancer was missed, what impact it would have had on them if they had been diagnosed when they should have been, whether their cancer has progressed during the misdiagnosis period and whether this will ultimately affect their treatment. These are the questions that we try and get answers to during our investigations.

There are many factors that influence a claim relating to the misdiagnosis of cancer. These include; the type of cancer, the grade of the cancer, the period of the delay and the staging of the cancer at the time of the diagnosis. They are by no means easy claims, but we try to make them as simple as we can for our clients.

As well as having a physical impact on our clients, the delay in diagnosis can have an emotional impact and sometimes a psychological impact. Some clients understandably find it difficult to process that their cancer could have been diagnosed and treated earlier. We offer as much support as we can to these clients to help them through their difficult time.

We are currently investigating a claim relating to the delay in diagnosing thyroid cancer. Our early investigations indicate that there was a four-year delay in diagnosing our client’s cancer. This client had initially attended with a lump in her throat and a biopsy was taken but the client was told that there was nothing to worry about. It was only when the client returned as the lump had grown, that the cancer was diagnosed.

If you feel that your medical condition has been misdiagnosed, please contact us on 0800 002 9577 to talk to one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors.