Doctors make mistakes too … But would you know what to do if the mistake was serious?
Clinical negligence claims are typically raised in the event of receiving treatment from a doctor that results in injury, such as brain damage, psychological problems resulting from treatment, damage to the nervous system, or even death. But sometimes clinical negligence is found in what a doctor didn’t do, such as not advising a patient about the potential risks of a procedure beforehand or diagnosing a condition in a timely manner. Clinical negligence occurs in all areas of medicine.
While doctors and other treatment specialists are rarely prone to making mistakes, they do happen sometimes. If you feel like you or your child has been a victim of clinical negligence, you can mitigate the situation by knowing how to react. Here’s what you should do if you need to pursue a clinical negligence claim or make medical negligence compensation.
1. Make a complaint to the attending physician. Ideally, you should have discussed the issue with the doctor providing care as soon as possible. This may provide time for him or her to rectify the situation (if it is possible) before you make a complaint. At the very least, you can make your discomfort or injury known so that you can receive better treatment at another facility. Making a complaint beforehand also solidifies the grounds under which you will make your claim.
2. Contact PALS (Patient Advisory and Liaison Services). This organisation can be an outlet for you to better understand what happened during your treatment, which will enable you to provide a more thorough explanation when you file your claim. PALS can also be helpful in uncovering what went wrong during your treatment if you experience any push back from the hospital or clinic that you are working with.
3. Use the NHS complaints procedure. The facility where you were treated, as long as it is public, is required to provide you with information detailing how you can start the NHS complaints procedure. The complaint should be submitted in writing; don’t be afraid to include any pertinent issues to which you were not able to find answers through your own research and communication with the hospital. You should make your complaint as soon as possible, even though the NHS will accept complaints as long as six months after the incident in question occurred. For legal claims, the time limit is three years.
4. Secure copies of your medical treatment records. The facility or doctor that treated you is required to provide you with a copy of all your medical data. This information can help you build a plausible case of medical negligence if you decide to take legal action.
5. Make a legal claim. A legal claim is different from the complaint that you will make the NHS. This kind of claim, if it is validated in court, could award you with financial compensation for the earnings you lost because you physically could not work or for the money you spent on corrective medical procedures. In order to make a claim, you should find a solicitor who specialises in clinical negligence cases. You can use resources like the Law Society or the Action Against Medical Accidents referral panel to find a trusted solicitor who can guide you through the process of making a claim.
This is a guest editorial.