Posted On / 15.01.2018

Clinical (Medical) Negligence - What it is and What it is Not

Legal claims for clinical negligence are often far from simple affairs.

Despite our blame/claim culture, a mistake or a bad outcome from a procedure does not necessarily mean there is a clinical negligence claim.

Hence, the title of this article. This type of phrasing was used by Florence Nightingale in the title of her book when she penned ‘Notes to Nursing’ in 1859, and explained the fundamentals of nursing – stating ‘What it is and What it is not’.  (When you’re next in London, take a trip to her museum at St Thomas’ Hospital for an interesting insight into the nursing profession in its early years.)

Clinical negligence is a branch of personal injury litigation. It encompasses claims against Hospital Trusts (both NHS and private) and also includes any issues with healthcare provided in another care setting such as GPs, dentists, cosmetic surgery clinics, pharmacists and care homes.

What Makes a Claim?                                              

The principles of negligence will tell you if there is a claim. Breaking it down simply, there are three elements.

Firstly, the care or treatment must be given in a professional capacity.

Secondly, that professional care must fall below the standard of a reasonably competent professional.

Thirdly, the illness or injury must only have happened because of the error, or that the error must have been at least a material cause.

Types of claim

Claims take many different forms depending on the circumstances. However, certain factors are common, such as delay in diagnosis, failure in communication and failure to follow set procedures.

Blame Culture v Our Reliance on the NHS

Hospitals and healthcare providers are central in our society and we rely on the NHS and other healthcare providers to enable us to enjoy life. At Battens, we absolutely recognise that much good work is done by excellent individuals and we in no way wish to undermine the good treatment which is provided.   However, sadly errors do sometimes happen.  

We all trust our healthcare providers to do their best, but it is also important that you also trust your own instincts. Seeking repeated medical advice if you have continued concerns can avoid undue delay.  Asking for explanations can resolve communication issues.  It is much better to get the medical help when you need it.

If you have any questions about this article please contact Victoria Knight, Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitor on 01935 846131 or victoria.knight@battens.co.uk   

For more information on our Clinical and Medical Negligence services click here.

For more related articles to this topic click here.