Overview of Clinical Negligence

Clinical negligence claims

| What is Clinical Negligence?

Clinical negligence is where a doctor or health professional is negligent when providing medical treatment. It is an act or omission that does not meet the level of appropriate care expected, which results in avoidable loss or injury. It is not sufficient that the treatment is provided in a manner that some clinicians would not do, it must be in a manner that no reasonable body of the profession would do.

The harm which is suffered can either be physical or mental harm. You have three years from when the harm occurred to make a clinical negligence claim. If a family member has died due to this breach, then you will need to make a clinical negligence claim within three years of the death. It is also important to note that there are certain situations where the time limits may not come into effect immediately. For example, if the clinical negligence occurred whilst you were a minor, the three-year period will begin from the day you turn 18, regardless of when the incident occurred. Also, if you suffer an immediate loss of mental capacity as a result of the negligence, the three-year period will begin once you regain mental capacity and understand that the harm was caused by the clinical negligence.

| Three-part test

The three-part test which is used for proving clinical negligence is as follows:

  1. The doctor/ medical professional owed a duty of care to the patient
  2. That duty of care was breached; and
  3. As a direct result of this breach the patient has suffered avoidable harm.

It is essential to ensure all three parts of the test are met and satisfied for a clinical negligence claim to be issued.

Initially you or your solicitor will need to request your medical records from the doctors and inform them of the incident. If you have any further information, you will also need to provide these to your solicitor, for example any images you may have.

Your solicitor will issue a letter of claim to the NHS or the relevant healthcare provider. This letter will outline your claim and inform the medical professional of the act you believe breached the duty of care. This letter should also inform the medical professional of any harm that you have consequently suffered due to the breach.

Your solicitor will then need to value your claim based upon the harm/ injuries suffered. The more severe the injuries, usually results in a higher value of the claim. Once this has been valued your solicitor will set out a schedule of loss and inform the defendants of the value of the claim.

The purpose of compensation in a clinical negligence claim is to cover any losses that you may have suffered because of the negligent act. There are two elements to the compensation, the first is for your pain and suffering, also known as PSLA.  The second element of loss to be compensated is for actual out of pocket expenses and can include things such as loss of earnings due to the negligence, costs to adapt your home, care fees etc.

If you have any queries regarding clinical negligence, we can help. Contact our clinical negligence team today on 0800 988 7756.

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