Causation of medical negligence claims relates to proving that the harm you have suffered is related to the negligence of a medical professional.
The aim of a medical negligence claim is to establish the factual link between the incident in question and the injury you sustained. This is very important as sometimes links are only causal and cannot be conclusively proved.
What complicates causation?
There are several factors that have an impact on the issue of causation of medical negligence claims. One of these is known as the Bolam test. The Bolam tests states that a doctor isn’t guilty of negligence if:
• He acted according to the accepted practices of a ‘responsible body’ of medical opinion
• He acted in accordance with that practice even though there is another body of opinion that offers a ‘contrary view’
This means that just because a doctor acts in a way that is different to one accepted method of practice, he is not necessarily negligent as long as the actions he carried out were also negligent. This can sometimes raise issues in medical negligence cases as judges cannot favour one body of opinion over another, as long as both sides are backed up by evidence.
Also, the Bolam test does not define the phrase ‘responsible body’, which can lead to further complications when proving causation. Therefore, while the test might be useful in establishing causation in some medical negligence claims, it isn’t a failsafe test that can be used in all cases.
Remoteness of damage
Something else that can complicate causation is the issue of ‘remoteness of damage’. Generally speaking, this refers to the level of the defendant’s liability in relation to a claim made against them. The parameters of this liability are set by judges and so are not the same in every single case.
Other issues to consider
Other issues of causation that need to be considered when proving a medical negligence claim for compensation include:
• Any illnesses or conditions already present in a patient
• Cases where there are several possible causes of an illness, only one of which is medical negligence
• Differing recollections of staff and patients
• Incomplete medical records, which may in themselves help to prove negligence in some cases but make it harder to prove in others
Thinking of a Medical Negligence Litigation?
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