Professionals charged with administering medical care have a tremendous responsibility. The decisions they make can be enormously consequential, in some cases making the difference between life and death
While the majority of medical interventions in the UK are successful, there exists a minority which don’t achieve the intended outcome. Of these, an even smaller minority amount to medical negligence.
This is an area of law that can seem overly complicated and daunting, especially if you’re not well-versed in legal concepts. If you’re unsure of whether your circumstances merit a medical negligence claim, it’s a good idea to consult with a suitable solicitor. For example, if you’re suffering from skeletal trouble, you might bring in a solicitor specialising in orthopaedic injury claims.
What is medical negligence?
Treatment has to fulfil several distinct criteria before it can be described as negligent. First, it will have to fall below the standard of treatment that would have been delivered by a competent member of the profession. Second, the patient will need to have suffered as a result.
How many people are affected by medical negligence?
In 2020, the BBC put in a freedom of information request, which revealed a substantial bill being faced by the NHS in England. Around £4.3 billion was owed, thanks to around ten thousand medical negligence claims being made each year. While this is tiny number when you consider the millions of people who seek treatment each year, it’s not so small that we can dismiss it.
According to YouGov polling, around a third of people in the UK know of someone who has been a victim of medical negligence. Of these, 14% said that they’d suffered medical negligence themselves. So, if we ask people directly whether they’ve been a victim, we get a different picture than if we rely on the figures from the courts.
What are some of the impacts of making a medical negligence claim?
The consequences of making a medical negligence claim tend to be over-inflated. Most cases end up being settled out of court, and don’t require that the claimant themselves make an appearance in person.
Patients might also be concerned about the quality of care they’ll get in the future. Under UK law, medical practices are not allowed to refuse treatment to patients who’ve made a complaint in the past. If you move to a different practice, no record of your claim will be passed on, either.
Medical negligence law is necessary for the functioning of any healthcare system. There needs to be a mechanism for spotting errors and fixing them, and for awarding compensation to those who have been wronged. This is the function served by medical negligence law.
Just so you know – as if you didn’t – sometimes if you click on a link or buy something that you’ve seen on Silver, we may make a little commission. We don’t allow any old links here though. Read why you should trust us