The time that we spend in hospital is often the time in our lives when we are at our most vulnerable. They are times when we are dependent upon the skills, knowledge, and expertise of trained professionals and have little control over our own situation.
Many of us find such scenarios, where control is wrested from us and placed in the hands of an authority figure, to be disconcerting. There is always a certain inherent power imbalance when we meet with a doctor. This is simply because within the context of such meetings they represent an authority figure. Where such a dynamic exists between two parties, one party will inevitably feel that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to discussing their case; very few of us feel that we are in a position to be able to challenge our doctor's conclusions.
However, if the standard of care that any of us receives falters while under the care of a doctor, whether it is within either a public or private hospital or even within our own homes, then there may be a valid case for medical negligence. Many people who feel that the standard of care they have received has fallen below the standard they expect and that this has resulted in illness, injury, or an exacerbation of existing conditions. But they are deterred from seeking the advice of medical negligence solicitors because of misapprehensions about the process. Some are put off by the belief that in seeking the financial compensation they are depriving a public institution of money and are therefore causing harm, but this is a misunderstanding of the process involved, however.
For many people, though, the reason they don't make a medical negligence claim is simply that they don't know how to make such a claim or what criteria they need to satisfy in order to be successful.
Below we discuss some of the most common misapprehensions and misunderstandings regarding clinical negligence claims which all too often deter patients who have a perfectly valid claim from ever pursuing it.
Medical Negligence Claims Harm Hospitals
The system we have for pursuing claims of clinical negligence is not designed to bankrupt hospitals and pursuing a claim of clinical negligence, even if it is successful, does not necessarily mean that you will receive a payout, or even that the hospital or doctor you make the claim against will be censured. In any case, a patient who believes they have a valid claim for clinical negligence should not be deterred by concerns about the hospital's financial liability.
Similarly, pursuing a claim for clinical negligence should never jeopardize the financial security of the patient who is pursuing the claim. The best medical negligence solicitors will often operate on a no win no fee basis. Medical negligence lawyers, The Medical Negligence Experts are a good example, as they also offer free consultations and advice to clients. If they take your case on and are unable to win, they will not charge you any fees. Many patients feel more comfortable working with medical negligence firms who operate on this basis, as they feel that it demonstrates confidence on the part of the attorneys who take their case.
Only Serious Injury Can be Classed as Negligence
Many people are under the illusion that the barrier they have to clear in order to be successful in their negligence claim is much higher than it actually is. You do not need to have suffered a serious, life-threatening complication from your treatment for your negligence claim to be successful. If you have suffered any level of emotional or physical injury because of negligence on the part of your healthcare provider, then you might have a valid claim for negligence.
Under the current rules, in order to prove medical negligence, UK lawyers must convince the judge who assesses the merits of your case that the treatment you received was not appropriate and providing you with alternative forms of treatment might have precipitated a better outcome. Previously, the only consideration made by the court would be whether the individual handling your case had followed the currently accepted best practice. However, this test could not account for situations where patients were not fully informed and, therefore, unable to give informed consent for their treatment.
You do Not Have to Bring Your Case Immediately
Medical negligence claims UK based patients do not have to bring their claim immediately following their treatment. There is a time limit for bringing a claim, but it is a rather generous period of three years from the time of your treatment. If the case of medical malpractice is serious enough to have resulted in the death of a loved one, then you can bring a claim of negligence on their behalf.
If you or a loved one have suffered illness or injury because of negligence while being treated in hospital, then you might have a case for medical negligence. If you think that this is the case, then you should consult with a medical negligence solicitor at the earliest opportunity.