Medical negligence, which is more often than not referred to as clinical negligence, is defined as a breach of the legal duty of care owed to an individual resulting in damage/injury being caused to that individual. This is perhaps best explained through some examples.
Medical negligence following accidents at work
A person may, for instance, be involved in a work accident resulting in a deep cut to their hand. On seeking medical assistance, the wound is surface cleaned and dressed. A few days later, the area around the wound begins to swell, turns red and pain becomes unbearable. The individual begins to feel unwell and a painful red stripe works it way up his/ her arm. When returning to the doctor they are informed that a foreign object was embedded deep in the wound and should have been detected and removed immediately. Instead, it was allowed to remain in place, causing an infection and blood poisoning. This person may well qualify to make a medical negligence claim.
Illness and medical negligence
Naturally, clinical negligence claims are not restricted to the treatment received after working accidents. Diagnosing an illness wrongly and subsequently causing the individual concerned to become more ill or suffer for an excessively prolonged period may also be adequate cause to claim for medical negligence compensation.
Injury through medical negligence
Another example would be a surgeon amputating the wrong limb following work-related accidents, road accidents or illnesses resulting in a limb needing to be removed. In essence, anything causing damage/injury to a patient due to negligence in the area of diagnosis and treatment (surgery, medication); counselling, psychotherapy and psychiatric care; childbirth (including potential injury/damage to an unborn child) or dentistry is classed as medical negligence. This includes providing delayed, insufficient, no or wrong treatments; failing to warn patients of potential treatment risks and any other things that should have been undertaken but were not done.
Claiming for medical negligence
If you believe that you have been the victim of medical negligence, you can call Accident Advice Helpline to discuss your eligibility for a claim against doctors, other medical staff and/or the authority employing them in total confidentiality. The free-phone number of AAH is available 24/7 and manned by experienced, helpful staff who will be able to assist you in establishing duty of care; whether there was a breach of duty and whether your injury/damage was caused directly by this breach (causation).
Date Published: September 26, 2013
Author: David Brown