Patient’s Rights and Medical Negligence

Find out all about your rights as a patient and what happens if you need to claim medical negligence

When you are treated by any medical professional that includes doctors, dentists, nurses, ambulance workers, physiotherapists and psychiatrists – the list is not exhaustive, you have the right to receive a reasonable standard of care. But what does this actually mean?

In legal terms, a reasonable standard of care means the treatment you receive must be in accordance with that which a reasonable body of other practitioners in the same field would have given. In other words, if no other medical professional would have acted in the same way or provided the same treatment, then it would not be considered reasonable and, potentially, negligent.

As a patient, you have the right to have a say in your treatment. This means that you must be given all the information about the treatment before you are able to provide consent. This includes knowing the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are not given this information then you cannot provide consent and if you do not consent but it is carried out regardless, then this could be a cause to consider a medical negligence claim. You also have the right to refuse treatment even if your medical professional does not agree with you.

You may wish to make a medical negligence claim if you are unhappy with your treatment, but it is important to remember that just because you are unhappy, it does not always mean that your treatment was negligent. Likewise, not all mistakes are negligent.

There is a very stringent legal test that must be satisfied in order to bring a successful medical negligence claim. It is for the Claimant (you, the patient) to prove that-

  1. The medical professional owed a duty to take care of you;
  2. There was a breach of that duty of care;
  3. That breach of duty has caused injury or damage to you; and
  4. Damage or other losses have resulted from that injury.

Proving that the medical professional owed their patient a duty of care is not difficult. Proving that there was a breach of that duty of care can be difficult. In order to investigate whether the duty of care was breached, we would obtain your medical records and instruct independent medical experts to confirm whether they consider the treatment provided was reasonable and if a body of reasonably competent medical practitioners in the same field would have made the same decision. If the independent expert considered that there was a breach of duty, then we would need to investigate what/if any injury or damage occurred as a result of it. This is known as causation.

Causation is the link between the breach of duty and the injury that you have suffered. If there has been a breach and the medical professional did something wrong but you did not suffer any injury or damage because of it, then you are unable to bring a claim. Again, in order to investigate this, we would instruct experts to provide an opinion on causation.  

After we have established that an injury or damage has occurred, we would then look to assess what the injury was and how that has impacted you and will continue to in the future. Sometimes, Claimant’s will have had time off work because of the negligence or may even be unable to work in the future. It is important that we calculate these losses as these can have a financial impact upon the Claimant’s day-to-day life. In some cases, we would need to include the cost of future treatment, which can be claimed on a private basis even if the NHS originally provided the treatment. Because medical negligence is wide reaching and does not affect one particular treatment, gender or age range, it is important that we carefully consider how the Claimant’s life has been affected and make sure, as far as possible, that these losses are claimed for.

Unfortunately, the only outcome of a successful medical negligence claim is compensation.  We cannot make any hospital or medical professional change their mind or even apologise. Although NHS staff do have a duty to be open and honest with patients and to say sorry when things go wrong.

It is important to remember that not all medical negligence cases go to Court. We will always try to settle a claim (where possible) without involving the Court, as we understand how stressful bringing a medical negligence claim can be.

You have three years from the date of negligence (or the date you became aware of the negligence) to bring a medical negligence claim. If you do not bring a claim, at Court, within this time, you will be barred from doing so unless you have permission from the Court.

Here at Dutton Gregory Solicitors, we understand that bringing a medical negligence claim is a big decision and we are here to help guide you through the process step by step and help ensure that we can obtain a successful outcome for you. Our free phone line is open between 9am-5pm and we would be happy to speak to free of charge to discuss whether we consider there is a claim to investigate and answer any questions that you may have.

Dutton Gregory clinical negligence team is one of the largest in the South, every year their specialist solicitors recover millions in compensation for clients across the country.

http://www.duttongregory.co.uk/site/personal/clinical-negligence/

Have more questions on Medical Negligence – Maybe they were answered in our Q&A with Dutton Gregory

Find out more about your rights as a patient with Celebrity Angels 

 

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