What Circumstances Are Classed As Medical Negligence?

By Stephen Kane. Last Updated 17th May 2023. When patients receive medical treatment, they expect a certain standard of medical care. If the level of care falls below an acceptable standard, mistakes could happen. If these mistakes cause a patient to suffer avoidable harm this may be classed as medical negligence. In this guide, we will explain which circumstances may be classed as medical negligence. In addition, we will look at what sort of injuries medical negligence can cause. Furthermore, we will explain how you may be able to make a medical negligence claim for your injuries.

What Is A Medical Negligence Claim?

What circumstances are classed as medical negligence guide

What circumstances are classed as medical negligence guide

We can offer you free legal advice about making a medical negligence claim. If our advisors feel your claim has a good chance of success, they may be able to connect you with a solicitor from our panel. 

To begin your claim for medical negligence compensation, please get in touch with us. You can do this by:

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What Is Classed As Medical Negligence?

To be able to pursue a medical negligence claim, you will need to prove that you suffered harm due to medical or clinical negligence. The definition of medical negligence is when a medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse, does not provide the expected standard of care. This is their duty of care.

Part of this duty of care could involve taking any symptoms you describe to them seriously and assessing any medication you are currently taking before prescribing you anything new.

An example of when you could make a medical negligence claim is for medication errors. For example, if your GP were to prescribe you a new medication that contained an ingredient you are allergic to even though the allergen was listed on your records. You could not make a claim if you or your doctor were not aware of this allergy when they prescribed this medication to you. Later in this guide, we will provide some further examples of instances that be classed as medical negligence.

Do not hesitate to contact our advisors today if you have any questions about what is classed as medical negligence or about making a claim for doctor negligence.

Examples Of Medical Negligence Compensation

Compensation settlements for successful medical negligence claims could include general and special damages. General damages compensate you for the harm you have suffered due to medical negligence.

Many legal professionals will refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to help them value claims. This document provides guideline compensation brackets for numerous injuries. The table below shows some of the amounts listed within the 16th edition of the JCG.

Please only use this table as a guide.

Nature Of Injury Severity Comments Compensation
Brain Damage Moderate (i) A moderate to severe intellectual deficit with speech and sight affected. There is also a serious risk of epilepsy. £150,110 to £219,070
Female Reproductive System (a) Disease or injury that results in infertility and sexual dysfuntion. It may have been caused due to the failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. £114,900 to £170,280
Chest Injury (a) Serious heart damage or one lung needs to be removed. This will cause serious prolonged pain with significant scarring. £100,670 to £150,110
Bowels (b) A complete loss of the bowels natural function. The person may also depend on a colostomy depending on their age. Up to £150,110
Male Reproductive System (b) Sterility, with total impotence and loss of sexual function in a young person. £114,900 to £148,320
Lung Disease (c) A disease such as emphysema that worsens the lungs function and impairs breathing. It could also disturb the person’s sleep with frequent coughing. £54,830 to £70,030
Digestive System (b)(i) Severe toxicosis that causes diarrhoea, vomiting, and acute pain, The person may also need to be admitted to hospital for a few days or weeks. £38,430 to £52,500
Kidney (c) One kidney has been lost and the other suffers no damage. £30,770 to £44,880
Spleen (a) The spleen has been lost, and there is a risk of developing an internal infection. £20,800 to £26,290
Hernia (a) The person will experience continuing pain and will have a limitation on sport, physical activities and employment after reapir. £14,900 to £24,170

Contact our advisors to discuss your potential clinical negligence claim today. They can offer you free advice and answer any questions you may have.

Claiming Special Damages

You may receive special damages compensation if your medical negligence claim is successful. This is compensation to reimburse you for any expenses you may have incurred because of your injuries. Special damages can cover:

It’s important to note that special expenses will be limited to costs that you have incurred as a result of injuries caused by negligence and not all costs associated with the injury or illness you have originally sought medical attention for.

So, for example, you may have suffered a stroke that was misdiagnosed by a doctor, causing your condition to be worse than it otherwise would have been. However, you may have needed care even if your condition was diagnosed in time. In this case, you will only be compensated for the additional care you require as a result of the negligence and not the stroke overall.

It’s important that you keep receipts, bills and invoices of any costs that you’ve incurred as a result of the medical negligence that caused your injuries. Without evidence, it will be more difficult to claim back certain costs.

Circumstances That Are Considered Medical Negligence

There are a number of ways that a healthcare professional could deliver substandard care in a way that harms a patient. For instance, a doctor may prescribe the incorrect medication to a patient for the illness they are suffering from. This could cause the patient to become ill, as they are taking medication that they don’t need to.

Furthermore, this could result in their original condition becoming worse. This is because the incorrect medication was prescribed, meaning that they aren’t taking the correct medication to treat the condition that they have.

Pharmaceutical errors could also be classed as medical negligence. This is where a doctor prescribes the correct medication for the condition, but the pharmacy gives the wrong medication. If this were to cause injury or illness to the patient above what they would have otherwise suffered, this could be grounds for a claim.

Circumstances Classed As Misdiagnosis Or Missed Diagnosis

Medical misdiagnosis is when a doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition or mistakenly diagnose it as something else. Consequently, the patient may be prescribed the wrong medication or medical procedure, which can cause the patient harm.

Similarly, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose could result in the patient not receiving the proper treatment that they need to recover. This could cause their condition to worsen.

Simply having been misdiagnosed or having a health condition missed by a doctor is not medical negligence. In order for it to be classed as medical negligence, the doctor must have provided substandard care to the patient. In some cases, a doctor can misdiagnose a patient while still adhering to the standards of their profession.

Misdiagnosis By A Doctor

Misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis may happen because of an error on the part of a General Practitioner. For example, a GP may misdiagnose a patient’s medical condition because they failed to listen to what the patient was trying to tell them. As a result, they may prescribe the wrong medication which could be harmful to the patient.

Moreover, a GP can miss a diagnosis. For instance, they may fail to spot the signs of a serious medical condition. And consequently, they may fail to refer the patient to a specialist who can diagnose and treat their condition. This can cause the patient more pain and suffering than they would have if the condition was diagnosed at the time. If this happens as a result of a doctor providing substandard care, you may be able to claim compensation.

GPs are not the only medical professionals who could cause harm through a negligent misdiagnosis. For example, an oncologist may fail to arrange the diagnostic tests needed to diagnose a patient’s cancer correctly. This means that the patient may need a more aggressive form of treatment to recover from their cancer than they would have. Sadly a missed diagnosis of cancer can mean that the patient could pass away. This is because cancer can become untreatable after a certain point.

Misdiagnosis By Other Healthcare Professionals

Other healthcare professionals can misdiagnose a patient’s condition. Or they may miss a diagnosis, causing the patient’s medical condition to get worse. For instance, a dentist may misdiagnose oral cancer, a dental abscess or a nerve injury.

Negligence In Surgery

The prospect of undergoing an operation can be nerve-wracking. We expect that when we go under the knife, we’re receiving the highest standard of care. Unfortunately, incidents of surgical negligence can happen.

What causes negligence in surgery?

Surgical negligence can be caused by an administrative mistake. For example, a surgeon may receive the wrong notes for their patient. This could cause them to perform the wrong procedure on a patient or to perform surgery on the wrong site.

Surgical negligence could also include:

  • A foreign body being left inside the patient.
  • The anaesthetist giving the wrong amount of anaesthetic.
  • An error while operating leads to avoidable damage to the nerves or tissues.

The result of surgical negligence can be devastating. The patient may need another operation to rectify the harm done by the negligent medical professional. This could cause them to have to undergo a longer recovery process than they otherwise would have. Alternatively, they may be left with permanent bodily damage that will harm their ongoing quality of life.

Dental Negligence

Like doctors, dentists also have a duty of care towards their patients. This means that they are responsible for the patient’s welfare when under their care. Incidents of dental negligence can also take place, which can harm patients. Let’s now look at what is considered negligence by a dentist in more detail.

  • Mismanagement of anaesthesia, which can lead to medical complications.
  • A dentist negligently misdiagnosing a dental condition and prescribing the wrong treatment.
  • Poorly executed dental procedures, causing the patient to become injured. For example, a dentist damaging a nerve when fitting a dental implant.
  • Or the dentist can give the patient poor aftercare. Subsequently, the patient can suffer an infection or other medical complications.

Circumstances Classed As Childbirth Negligence

Obstetrics is the practice of medicine relating to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Childbirth is a critical time for the mother and the infant. Both the mother and child must receive the right level of medical care during childbirth. If medical negligence takes place during childbirth, both the mother or infant could be put at risk.

Some of the things that could be classed as obstetrics medical negligence include:

  • Third and fourth-degree perineal tears caused by failure to observe on the part of the medical professional.
  • Doctors failing to spot signs of distress in the foetus during childbirth. This may mean that the baby is deprived of oxygen, which can lead to head injury, causing brain damage.
  • The C-section caused internal damage to organs
  • Using forceps or tools to deliver the baby incorrectly. This can lead to bone fractures or a birth injury to the baby’s head.

If you or your child have been injured because the level of care you received fell below the expected standard, then you could be entitled to claim. Get in touch with our team today for more information.

Other Areas Of Medicine Where Negligence Could Occur

Medical negligence can occur in any area of medicine. Contact us for free legal advice if you have experienced medical negligence in any of these areas:

  • Emergency medicine medical negligence
  • Mental health care negligence
  • Urology medical negligence
  • Radiology negligence
  • Gastroenterology negligence
  • Gynaecology negligence
  • Cosmetic surgery negligence.

Advice.co.uk can provide you with free legal advice about claiming compensation for medical negligence related injuries. What’s more, we can connect you with a skilled medical negligence solicitor to handle your compensation claim. Contact us today to learn more.

How Do I Prove A Medical Negligence Case?

In order for you to be eligible to claim, you need to provide evidence. There are a number of things you need to do to prove medical negligence. These include:

 Proving You Were Owed A Duty Of Care

Every healthcare professional owes their patient a duty of care. Your solicitor won’t need to prove that you were owed a duty of care; this is automatic.

Proving A Medical Professional Breached Their Duty Of Care

You need to show that the care you were provided breached this duty of care. In order for an action to be classed as medical negligence, you need to show that the doctor did not adhere to the standards of their profession.

Evidence That The Negligence Caused Your Injuries

In order to claim, you must show that the negligence caused you to be injured. In many cases, you may visit the doctor because you were already suffering from a medical condition. If this is the case, you would need to show that you were made to suffer more than you otherwise would have.

Advice On No Win No Fee Medical Negligence Claims

The support and guidance of a medical negligence solicitor could help you navigate the claims process and maximise the compensation you are entitled to. However, you may be worried about the cost associated with hiring a solicitor.

Instead of paying your solicitor an upfront or ongoing fee in order for them to work on your claim, you can get representation on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that you will only have to pay your solicitor if you win your claim. You won’t be asked to pay anything upfront or while your claim is ongoing.

If you win your claim, you will cover your solicitor’s costs with a success fee which is deducted from your compensation. This will be a capped percentage of your settlement, ensuring that you always receive the majority of the compensation you’re awarded.

Talk To Our Team

If you’ve been harmed because of medical negligence, you can contact our team for free legal advice about your rights. Moreover, one of our advisors could connect you with a No Win No Fee solicitor to work on your claim, if we can see that you have a valid claim.

Contact us today using the details below to begin your compensation claim.

Related Guides And Services

We hope this guide to circumstances classed as medical negligence has been helpful to you. Please feel free to read these guides to learn more about making a medical negligence compensation claim.

Pharmacy Prescription Error Negligence Claims – A guide to claiming compensation if a pharmacy made an error with your prescription.

Medical Negligence And Wrongful Death Compensation Guide – A guide for bereaved persons who wish to claim compensation for wrongful death.

Suing The NHS For Medical Negligence – A guide to claiming compensation from an NHS Trust for medical negligence.

A Citizen’s Advice guide to taking legal action against the NHS for negligence.

Advice for individuals wishing to claim compensation from the NHS, from NHS Resolution.

The General Medical Council have provided a list of duties that a doctor has to provide adequate care to patients.

Other Medical Negligence Guides

Clinical Negligence Statistics

NHS Resolution record the number of clinical and non-clinical claims made against the NHS. In the year 2019/20, 11,682 new clinical claims against the NHS were recorded. Many of which were for medical negligence.

Obstetrics (childbirth) accounted for 9% of the overall number of claims made in this period 11,281. However, claims of this nature accounted for 50% of the overall value of clinical negligence claims.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Negligence

Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about making a medical negligence claim.

Can you sue the NHS for negligence?

Yes. You can also claim compensation from a private healthcare provider who has provided a level of care that falls short of the expected standard.

What are some examples of medical negligence?

The following are examples of medical negligence:

  • An A&E doctor missing a fracture because they fail to order an x-ray when the patient was showing clear signs of a broken bone. This causes the patient unnecessary pain and suffering and may affect how well the fracture heals.
  • A nurse reusing instruments across patients that should be single-use. This could cause infection.
  • A cosmetic surgeon performing the wrong surgical treatment.

What are the stages of a medical negligence claim?

When you make a medical negligence claim, you need to show that the care you received was below the standard you would expect from their profession. You also need to show that their negligence directly caused you to be injured or for your condition to worsen more than it otherwise would have.

Does the NHS settle out of court?

Yes, the NHS settles the majority of its compensation claims out of court. In 2019/20, 71.5% of claims were settled with no proceedings.

Thank you for reading this guide to what circumstances are classed as medical negligence.

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