What Counts As Medical Negligence?

What Circumstances Are Classed As Medical Negligence And What Compensation Could I Claim?

What counts as medical negligence guide

What counts as medical negligence guide

If you’ve suffered due to a doctor’s mistake or a surgeon’s error, have been misdiagnosed or diagnosed much later than you could have been, you may be asking ‘What counts as medical negligence?’, or ‘Could I make a medical negligence claim?’. This guide has been created to answer such questions and provide you advice on what is classed as medical negligence, how you could go about taking action for NHS negligence or private practice negligence and how much compensation you could receive for the harm you’ve suffered caused by the negligence.

In the sections below, we look at different situations that could be classed as medical negligence, from dental negligence, surgical negligence, childbirth negligence and misdiagnosis. We also look at guidance on how to find a medical negligence solicitor that could help you fight for compensation. We include information on the personal injury claims time limit that could apply to a medical negligence claim. As well as giving some insight into the kind of proof you’d need to prove your claim. If you have any questions about any of the information that is contained in this guide, you can reach our team at any time by calling 0800 652 3087.

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A Guide On What Counts As Medical Negligence

When it comes to what counts as medical negligence, there are different types of medical negligence. Whether you’ve been harmed by a doctor that has negligently misdiagnosed you, suffered an avoidable surgical injury, or have suffered a childbirth injury due to negligence in monitoring you, you may be wondering is what you have suffered medical negligence.

In the guide below, we offer a wealth of advice and information when it comes to medical negligence in the UK. We answer questions such as:

  • What are the different types of medical negligence?
  • What are the 4 D’s of medical negligence?
  • How could you prove you’ve suffered harm as a direct cause of medical negligence?
  • What damages could you claim for common medical negligence cases?
  • How can I find medical negligence solicitors to help me?
  • What is the difference between a personal injury lawyer and a medical negligence lawyer?

We hope you find the information contained in this guide useful. If, however, you’d like us to take a look at your case to see if your circumstances could be classed as medical negligence, and if we could help you connect with a No Win No Fee solicitor to launch a claim on your behalf, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What Does Negligence Mean In Medical Terms?

When it comes to what counts as medical negligence, it may be a good idea to look at the criteria for making a claim. To have a valid claim, the 4D’s of medical malpractice must be proven. These are:

Duty – Medical practitioners have a duty to meet certain standards of care, or expectations when they work with a patient. If the expectations haven’t been met, and care has fallen below an expected standard, this could mean that the practitioner is not meeting their duty of care towards the patient. Duties that a doctor registered with the GMC must comply with, for example, include:

  • Making the care of a patient their primary concern
  • Providing a good standard of care and practice
  • Taking action promptly if you believe patient comfort, dignity or safety is being compromised
  • Promoting and protecting the health of the public and patients
  • Respecting patients’ dignity and treating them as individuals
  • Working in partnership with their patients
  • Working with colleagues to best serve a patient’s interests
  • Being honest, open and acting with integrity
  • Not being discriminatory against colleagues or patients
  • Not abusing patient’s trust or the public’s trust in the medical profession

Derelict – To deviate from professional standards

Direct cause – The patient must have been harmed in some manner as a direct cause of the dereliction or deviation of duty. If a medical practitioner didn’t directly cause harm to a patient, then this would not count as medical negligence.

Damages – These relate to the pain and suffering and loss of amenity the patient has suffered due to the medical malpractice. They also include any psychological injuries and monetary expenses caused by the malpractice.

Circumstances Classed As Clinical Or Medical Negligence?

There are different circumstances classed as medical negligence. Some examples could include:

  • Surgical negligence – this could include retained surgical instruments, wrong-site surgery, anaesthesia errors, unnecessary surgeries or avoidable nerve damage, for example.
  • Dental negligence – this could include wrong tooth extractions, incorrect implants, negligent misdiagnosis or avoidable tooth damage during extraction, for example.
  • Childbirth negligence – this could include suturing errors, anaesthetic errors, negligent misdiagnosis of maternal or foetal conditions, retained instruments and more.
  • GP negligence – this could include negligent misdiagnosis, failure to refer a patient or incorrect medication prescribed causing a condition to deteriorate, for example
  • A&E negligence – negligent emergency medical treatment
  • Hospital negligence – this could include MRSA, bedsore mismanagement, negligent misdiagnosis or negligent monitoring, for example

If medical negligence has taken place this will not automatically mean that you are eligible for medical negligence compensation. However, if you believe you’ve been harmed by medical negligence and would like to get a free assessment of your case, why not call our team for free today. We’d be happy to advise you.

What Counts As Medical Misdiagnosis?

You could suffer a medical misdiagnosis not just at the GP’s surgery, but also at a hospital, private clinic, dentist’s surgery or any other clinical setting. Here, we take a look at what counts as medical misdiagnosis in different settings.

Clinical Misdiagnosis By A GP

When you visit a GP with symptoms of an illness or injury, you would expect a GP to listen to you, examine you where necessary, ask you relevant questions. Then they would either diagnose you/treat you or refer you to someone else who could investigate further. However, if your doctor fails to listen to you or take your concerns seriously, and you suffer either a late or misdiagnosis due to their negligence, you could suffer harm in one of a few ways. These could include:

Being prescribed the wrong medication – if your doctor misdiagnosis you, this could mean you’d receive medication you don’t need, which could actually do you harm.

Being left with symptoms untreated – if your illness is not diagnosed in a timely manner, it could get worse, and this could mean you’d have to have more invasive treatment, or you could even develop further disease as a result.

If you believe your GP has missed an opportunity to diagnose you correctly or refer you for treatment then if you can show that their negligent treatment which led to a misdiagnosis caused you harm you would not have otherwise suffered you may be able to make claim. We could help assess your claim to see if you could be eligible for compensation.

Clinical Misdiagnosis By Other Practitioners

The failure of an A&E doctor to correctly diagnose a fracture – could cause your fracture to heal incorrectly, which could cause long-term issues with the injury site.

The failure of a dentist to spot the signs of oral cancer – this could cause the cancer to spread, which could lead to a poorer prognosis or more invasive treatment being needed

The failure of a hospital doctor to spot the signs of appendicitis – could lead to the appendix bursting, which could lead to more extensive damage to the patient, which could even be life-threatening

The failure of a gynaecologist to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy – could lead to the fallopian tube bursting, which could be life-threatening to the patient and could lead to a loss of fertility

If medical professionals act within the standards of their profession and do all they can to come to a diagnosis if that diagnosis is not correct this will not mean medical negligence has occurred.

What Counts As Medical Negligence By Surgeons?

If an operation has gone wrong, and you have been harmed, this may be due to something that was out of the surgeon’s control. In which case you would not be able to prove negligence and a medical negligence claim would not be valid. However, if surgical errors occur because proper protocols had not been followed this could mean a breach in the duty of care owed to the patient. If you have suffered negligence by the surgeon or surgical team, and this has led to you suffering harm, this could lead to you being able to make a medical negligence claim.

In terms of what is classed as negligence in surgery, we offer a few examples below:

  • Unnecessary surgeries
  • Surgeries at the wrong site
  • Instruments being left inside you
  • Wrong surgeries being performed
  • Wrong injections given
  • A failure to manage minor common complications
  • Wrong site for ports being used
  • Anaesthesia errors
  • Avoidable nerve damage being caused
  • Wrong patient surgeries
  • Wrong blood being given
  • Incorrect implant or prosthesis being used

If you’ve sustained injuries due to a surgical error and are wondering what is considered medical malpractice in surgery, please call our team for a free confidential consultation. We could check your eligibility to make a claim and could connect you with a medical negligence solicitor.

What Counts As Medical Negligence By A Dentist?

Dentists like all medical practitioners owe each of their patients a duty of care. If that care falls below the standards of their profession the following mistakes may happen;

  • Injuries to nerves caused by the dentist that affect the tongue or tastebuds
  • Anaesthetic errors that lead to oral paralysis
  • Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of oral conditions
  • Wrong implants being used leading to complications
  • Extracting the wrong tooth
  • Damaging another tooth while extracting one
  • Unnecessary extractions

If you believe you’ve been harmed by dental negligence our team could help you take the first steps towards claiming the compensation you may be eligible for. You can also complain about dentist standards using the NHS website. Why not get in touch for a free assessment, and to obtain guidance and support relating to your claim.

What Counts As Medical Negligence During Childbirth?

During childbirth, both the health of the mother and the baby should be monitored to check for any signs of distress. If the level of care is allowed to fall below the set standard errors and mistakes could happen. Listed below are some examples;

Birth injuries to a mother – these could include misdiagnosis of pre-eclampsia, retained instruments, avoidable fissures or perineal tears, errors with episiotomies, infections, c-section mistakes or errors with anaesthesia, for example.

Birth injuries to an infant – these could include a brain injury, cerebral palsy, hip dysplasia, birth fractures and other injuries caused to a baby as a result of failure to monitor and act on signs of distress or incorrect use of birth instruments, for example.

The long-term effects of birth injuries to a mother or her baby could last for the lifetime of both mother and child. If you have been harmed by childbirth negligence, or your child has, then you could claim compensation that could pay for long-term medical care, as well as compensating you for the loss of amenity, suffering and pain you have gone through.

Time Limits To Claim For Negligent Medical Care

When it comes to making a personal injury claim there are usually time limits within which you must start your claim. The same is true when you make a medical negligence claim. Time limits for claiming for medical negligence claims are displayed in the table below:

SituationTime Limit
Aware of negligence immediately3 years from date of negligence
Aware of negligence some time later3 years from date of discovery
Claiming once you reach adulthood3 years from 18th birthday
Those with mental disabilitiesExempted from the usual time limit
Parents claiming on behalf of childrenUp to their 18th birthday

We would advise that claimants consider filing a claim as soon as possible after discovery.  In addition to this, the earlier you claim the easier it could be to gather evidence.

What Compensation Could I Claim For Harmful Medical Negligence?

If you’re wondering what compensation you could receive for a medical negligence claim, this would depend entirely on the specific facts surrounding your case. Many claimants look for a personal injury claims calculator to give them an idea of the compensation they could receive, but since these tools can’t assess specific cases, you would only receive a very rough estimate. We have given some insight below into some injuries that could result from what counts as medical negligence. These figures have been collated from the Judicial College guidelines, which is a publication that courts and solicitors could use to value a claim.

Type of injuryLevel of compensationNotes
Failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy resulting in infertility (female)£31,950 to £95,850With medical complications
Infertility via disease or injury (female)£107,810 to £158,970With scarring, pain, depression (severe)
Traumatic injury damage£40,370 to £58,100Severe, with pain and discomfort that is continuing
Kidney£158,970 to £197,480Permanent damages and loss of function of one or both kidneys
Toxicosis£36,060 to £49,270Causing vomiting, acute pain and fever, resulting in a significant impact on the claimant’s enjoyment of life/work ability.
Moderate Brain damage£40,410 to £205,580Intellectual deficit, a personality change, an effect on sight, speech and senses.

How To Prove That You Were Harmed By Medical Negligence

Proving you were harmed by medical negligence could be made easier with the help of a lawyer. A lawyer would be able to tell you what counts as medical negligence and could help you in proving the important parts of a valid claim. These include:

Proving A Medical Professionals Duty Of Care

This would involve proving that you were under the care of a medical professional and that they had a duty of care towards you. This could involve the duty of care of a dentist, GP, hospital doctor, or another clinical professional.

Proving A Medical Professional Breached This Duty Of Care

Proving a medical professional breached their duty of care towards you could include reviewing your medical notes from the time. It could involve talking to witnesses who were there at your time of treatment, for example. We should re-iterate, if something goes wrong medically, this may not always be due to a medical professional’s breach of duty. In some cases, it might not have been possible for a medical professional to do anything more to help you than they did.

Proving This Breach Caused Harm To You

Providing that a breach of duty caused you harm could rely on the ‘but for’ principle. In terms of medical negligence, this would involve proving that ‘but for’ the liable party’s negligence/action, the patient’s injury would not have occurred, or their prognosis would have been better. This is the point at which independent medical evidence could be crucial in proving a case. As part of your medical negligence claim, an independent doctor would have to examine you, review your medical notes and provide a medical report detailing their independent view of your prognosis and injuries. This could also be used to help value your claim.

No Win No Fee Damages Claims For Negligence Medical Care

Making a medical negligence claim could be difficult if you were to go it alone, as you would have to gather evidence and be able to establish liability and causation. This is why many claimants prefer to have a solicitor on their side.

It is possible for you to make such a claim with the help of a No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitor. This means you would not pay upfront for your solicitor. Instead, you’d pay the solicitor a small, capped fee known as a success fee. Only if they negotiated a compensation payout for you.

If they didn’t, you would not have to cover their costs incurred while pursuing your medical negligence claim and you wouldn’t pay the success fee either. All of this is documented in a Conditional Fee Agreement. You’d have to sign this before a solicitor would take on your case under these terms.

If you’re interested in making a claim without paying for legal help upfront, please call our team. We’d be glad to put you in touch with someone that could help you.

How Medical Negligence Assist Could Help You

Here at Medical Negligence Assist, we could help answer the question of what counts as medical negligence. We could take some details of what has happened to you and make an assessment as to whether you could be eligible to claim compensation for the harm you’ve suffered.

If we believe you have been harmed by situations that are classed as medical negligence, we could offer to connect you to a medical negligence solicitor that could help you fight for compensation on your behalf. All you need to do is get in touch. You could reach us:

Helpful Links

Calculating Medical Negligence Compensation – Here, we include a guide on how compensation is calculated in medical negligence cases.

How Long Does A Claim Take? – If you’re wondering how long it could take to get compensation, this guide could help.

Claiming For NHS Negligence – You can find information on claiming against the NHS here.

NHS Resolution Negligence Statistics – This accounting report from the NHS Resolution site shows how much has been paid out in negligence claims in 2018/19.

Complain To The NHS – Unhappy with NHS care? Take a look at this page, which explains how you could complain.

Never Events – This report from the NHS on never events

Guide by Jo

Edited by LisM.