The NHS is a nationally beloved institution, the bedrock of the UK’s welfare programme and the fourth most highly regarded national health service by public opinion globally. But, unfortunately, even the most robust of health services can bely issues in care – and some unlucky patients can suffer unduly as a result of mistakes in care. If you are one of those patients, you may have a medical negligence case.
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence describes the failure of a doctor, medical professional or healthcare institution in their duty of care to a patient. It is a general definition, with numerous possibilities within it: a patient may have been mis-prescribed a dangerous medication; they may have been misdiagnosed, leading to the avoidable worsening of a condition; they may have suffered an injury in surgery as a result of a mistake; or they may have been failed in some other way by a healthcare practitioner.
In terms of civil action, medical negligence is a specific form of personal injury claim. The process is slightly different from standard personal injury claims, and can differ further depending on whether the claim is against the NHS or a private service.
How Might I Find Out If I Have a Claim?
If you believe you may have been a victim of medical negligence, your first step should be to speak to a professional, who can advise you as to your options. Documenting evidence of the suspected negligence, from doctor’s notes to prescriptions and pictures of any physical injuries, can help with initial consultation.
In order for you to have a case for a claim, you must be able to prove negligence via what are known as the ‘four Ds’:
- Duty of Care: the establishment that you were in the care of the professional or service in question.
- Dereliction of Duty: the establishment that a practitioner or service failed in their duty of care to you, resulting in injury.
- Direct Cause: the establishment that your injury was a direct result of the practitioner or service’s dereliction.
- Damages: the establishment of the costs – physical, mental and financial – resulting from the injury.
The Claims Process – and Personal Approach to Claiming
If your case fulfils the ‘Four Ds’ criteria, you have a strong case against the practitioner or service in question. A medical negligence solicitor will handle all the paperwork, and give you clear instruction on the next steps in the process. What is more important for you is to check in with yourself. You might have conflicted feelings about claiming against a health service. However, it’s important to remember that what happened to you isn’t your fault, and that the legal frameworks by which you can place a claim are there for you and your rights.
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