If you suffer under an incidence of medical negligence, it’s probably the last thing on your mind, but it is wise to think through what you want to happen in the long term. Your journey through the courts will almost certainly be long and complicated. Thus you may feel reluctant to approach a legal advisor in the first place.
If this is the case, then there are 3 steps you should take on your own behalf.
Get hold of your medical records. The operative word here is ‘YOUR’. Thanks to the Data Protection act it is a right that all records are yours and not the doctor’s or the medical trust’s. There will be a small charge for obtaining them. Write a letter requesting a copy of ALL documents relating to your treatment. Advice and guidance can be had for free at the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). Be aware that your records will be turgid, long and incomprehensible to anyone but the doctor who wrote them. Many lawyers offer a free first assessment of the strength of any medical negligence claim, by decoding your documents for you. It is not completely unknown for record to contain admissions of mistakes and even apologies, but don’t hold your breath as they say. However, just having a hearing of your feelings can prove therapeutic and hospital responses can be revealing later in the process.
Get together with other medical negligence sufferers in a patient support group. They come in 2 varieties; either a specific medical condition will unite people or a general group interested in patient safety can do the same. They will all help you overcome the dreadful isolation that medical accidents or neglect inevitably engender in patients. They can also advise you on the next steps on your journey to closure and or justice. One such open support group is Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA). Their particular focus is on sources of help.
Whether you just want to make people aware of the dangers from your experience or get some form of recompense (maybe just an apology) it is always best at this point in a medical negligence case to contact a legal specialist. Someone who has experience in dealing with both the courts and the medical profession in the all too common event of mistakes and or neglect. It is inevitably a paper chase. So right from the start be sure to file in date order, and make copies of ALL documents generated.
99 times out of every hundred the NHS medical practitioners in the UK do a satisfactory or very good job in treating the millions of cases that pass through their institutions. They are their to help when we fall ill. However they are operated by human beings and none of us is infallible. It is understandable that the first reaction to a complaint will be denial, followed by obfuscation and delay. You may get what you are looking for from their own complaints procedure. But when you aren’t immediately satisfied then think about the long term and take the 3 steps described here.
If you have suffered from medical negligence, make sure to claim compensation for your ordeal.