There is no doubting that health professionals and medical institutions across the UK do their best to ensure the health and wellbeing of millions of patients every year. This is why we completely trust these individuals and institutions to care for us and our loved ones. However, mistakes happen occasionally and these can have life-altering consequences to the people affected. If you have been a victim of substandard care at the hands of a health professional or institution, you may be able to sue for malpractice.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or medical institution provides substandard care, causing injury to a patient. This substandard care may be due to error in diagnosis, treatment or management of the patient’s health.
The medical malpractice UK law protects you against medical professionals who provide care that falls below the acceptable standard. Whether this happened at the NHS or a private clinic, you may be entitled to make a medical negligence claim. The law also makes it possible for you to sue for malpractice for yourself, your child, a loved one who cannot make a claim or one who has passed away due to medical malpractice.
Do I Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Claim?
In order to successfully make a claim for medical malpractice, the following elements must be established:
- Duty of Care
You must show that there was a doctor-patient relationship. This means that the doctor agreed to provide the care you needed for a particular condition. Generally, doctors owe their patients a duty of care to protect their health and prevent harm from getting to them. Outside a hospital or a surgical procedure – for instance at an accident scene – a doctor is not under obligation to help, which means they do not owe the victim a duty of care. However, if he/she decides to stop and act as a doctor, then he has assumed the duty of care towards that patient.
- Breach of Duty
To establish medical malpractice, you must be able to prove that the medical care you received fell below the expected standards of a skilled practitioner in the relevant medical field. This means that the health professional must have acted in a way that a responsible body of medical professionals would not consider reasonable and acceptable. When it comes to breach of duty, the bar is quite high, which often makes this element the toughest to prove.
After showing that your doctor was in breach of their duty, you now need to prove that the substandard care you received has caused you harm. To prove this successfully, you will need the support of an independent medical expert.
Medical malpractice can have a devastating impact on the life of a victim. This impact could range from physical to psychological injuries as well as financial losses (e.g. loss of income and medical expenses). To pursue a claim for medical negligence, you must be able to prove that the negligent treatment caused you injury, pain and suffering, as well as financial losses.
Medical Negligence Claims: The Time Limit Factor
If you think you may have valid grounds for a claim against a medical professional, it is important that you act promptly. As a general rule, claimants must issue court proceedings within three years of the negligent treatment or within three years of when they became aware that they have suffered an injury due to negligence (date of knowledge).
However, there are exceptions to this rule, and the medical malpractice UK time limit is pretty complex. To help you make an informed decision, your best option is to get in touch with one of our experienced medical negligence solicitors. Through a free, no obligation consultation, they will discuss details of your case as well as the time limit left for your claim. If they think your case meets the above criteria, you will be guided on how to file a medical malpractice claim.
Who Can I Sue in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
The concept of medical negligence is not limit to how medical doctors conduct themselves, but also applies to anyone in the medical field, such as dentists, nurses, healthcare facilities and other healthcare providers. Here are some of the individuals and entities you can sue for malpractice:
Doctors usually provide the medical attention we need to set us on the path to recovery without any complications. However, if the level of care they provide falls below the expected standard, the law protects you and allows you sue the doctor for medical malpractice, whether they work as private practice or in an NHS hospital. You can also sue the doctor on behalf of your child, an elderly one or a person who has passed away due to medical malpractice.
Nurses are often on the frontline when it comes to patient care. Like doctors, nurses are held to a standard of care towards their patients; when the actions or inactions of a nurse falls below the expected standard of care for his or her specialty, you may be able to sue for malpractice. Some of the most common examples of nursing malpractice include failing to use medical equipment properly, lack of communication with other medical team members, failing to properly assess and monitor a patient.
If you have undergone a dental procedure gone wrong – whether this be for traumatic or cosmetic reasons – you can sue your dentist for medical malpractice. In cases of dental malpractice, the cost of recovery will usually be included as part of your claim. Common instances of dental malpractice include failing to check for allergies or medical history, incorrect tooth extraction, failing to diagnose dental conditions, and failing to perform cosmetic restoration.
- Care Home Facilities
Making the decision to send a loved one to a care home facility can be very tough to accept. While most care home facilities in the UK usually uphold a high standard of care, accidents can happen on occasion, even in the best care homes. If you or your loved one has suffered an injury or illness as a result of negligent treatment at a care home, you may be entitled to a claim for medical malpractice.
Hospitals are usually a safe haven for patient care; they are home to experienced medical professionals and standard medical equipment that can help us recover from our ill health. However, a hospital may fall below the expected standard of care when discharging their duty towards a patient. If this happens, you may be entitled to a claim for hospital negligence.
Specialist and Experienced Medical Negligence Solicitors at MND
At Medical Negligence Direct, we work with a panel of specialist solicitors who are experienced in this specific area of law, and boast a strong track record of successful claims against the NHS as well as private practitioners. Our team of NHS malpractice lawyers have helped claimants with varying needs secure maximum compensation for their claim; whether you are ready to start your compensation claim or simply want advice on how to manage your case, we can offer the legal support you need via a free, no obligation initial consultation with one of our specialist solicitors.
When you contact us, one of our solicitors will discuss details of your case, and provide advise on whether you have valid grounds for a claim. If we believe you have a reasonable chance of success, we will likely offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. To find out if you can make a claim for medical malpractice, give us a call on 0800 644 4240 or fill out our claim assessment form; one of our experienced medical negligence solicitors will call you back at your earliest convenience and listen sensitively as you state your account.
Our aim is to help you get the compensation you deserve; while it may not completely restore all you have lost due to medical negligence, it can cover the cost of rehabilitation and lost earnings, as well as your ongoing needs.