What is medical negligence?

In the UK, we are very lucky that we live in a country with high standards of medical care and medical professionals who are dedicated to their work.

However, things do go wrong from time to time, and sometimes this is due to medical negligence on the part of medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, surgeons, dentists and others who work in healthcare. But what is medical negligence?

Medical or clinical negligence occurs when a medical professional breaches their duty of care to you. For instance, a doctor is expected to have a certain level of knowledge and skill, and to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities, at a level comparable to the work of other doctors and in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the law and their professional bodies. If they fail to do meet this level of care, they may well be negligent and if that negligence results in personal injury to you, you may be able to make a clinical negligence claim.

Negligence can occur in almost any clinical discipline, from problems arising as a result of a trip to A&E to birth injuries and GP errors. You can read more about the different types of medical negligence claim by visiting the relevant pages on the ‘Types of Negligence’ section of our website.

What kind of claims does medical negligence cover?

Examples of what is negligent behaviour are varied and encompass a wide range of issues. Common reasons for making a negligence claim include:

• Improper record keeping leading to misdiagnosis, missed illnesses or the wrong treatment being prescribed

• Prescription errors, such as the wrong medication being given, the wrong dose being prescribed or a failure to review medications

• Poor communication between medical staff, such as during shift changeovers

Misdiagnosis of illness following tests, or failure to carry out tests after a patient presents with symptoms; delayed diagnosis

• Improper procedures being carried out during tests or surgery, leading to problems being missed or further harm being caused to the patient

• A failure to properly inform the patient of risks associated with procedures, or carrying out procedures without the consent of the patient

There can also be other reasons for making a UK medical negligence claim, as every case is different. It can sometimes be hard to prove medical negligence as cases aren’t always clear. This is why it is so important to seek specialist legal advice if you are intending to make such a claim.

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