Throughout one year in England, around 16 million people visit major hospital’s A&E, a further 9 million visit minor units, and in September 2022, there were 25 million GP appointments made, according to a government research briefing. With such record numbers of patients, underfunding, and staff shortages, it is not surprising that mistakes happen. That’s why from 2021 to 2022, 10,284 people claimed compensation for medical negligence, according to the NHS resolution report.
Medical negligence happens when a medical professional has breached their duty of care for their patient and has not upheld the expected competency standard, resulting in an injury or loss. Compensation claims for medical negligence vary from person to person and can be highly individualised. However, to give a broad understanding of claims made, we will explore the six most common types in detail below.
A study between Manchester University and the National Institute for Health Research found that 58% of diagnostic errors happened in general practice and that a misdiagnosis happened in 4.3% of GP consultations. In short, out of the 300 million consultations that occur every year in the UK, six million are thought to end in a patient’s condition going undiagnosed.
Misdiagnosis is when a medical professional:
- Incorrectly diagnoses a patient’s symptoms
- Misses the signs, and a condition goes undiagnosed
The result of misdiagnosis is that a patient cannot access the right treatments at the right time, including any specialist care, leading to further suffering, pain and the potential for loss of life. According to the NHS, patients made 2,368 claims of misdiagnosis in 2020-2021, with cancer, fractures, and mental health injuries being the most common.
Most of us are fortunate to have surgery without any complications and at the hands of excellent, competent medical professionals. However, not everyone is so lucky.
Surgical negligence comes under the ‘Never Events’ framework for the NHS and is so severe that regulatory bodies use it as an indicator of unsafe systems. From April to November 2022, there were 262 ‘Never Events’ in NHS hospitals, of which the most common types of surgical negligence were:
- Wrong site surgery
- Retention of a foreign object post procedure
- Wrong implant/prosthesis
Surgical negligence can result in prolonged pain, additional surgeries and even death. If you or a loved one has suffered from a ‘Never Event,’ it is imperative that you place a claim as soon as possible.
Between 2019 and 2020, there were 1.11 billion prescription items dispensed in England, from standard painkillers to antibiotics to controlled drugs. With such a range of medicines distributed and at such a high volume every day, it is easy to see how errors can occur and why it is so dangerous when they do. Common prescription and medication errors include:
- Patients prescribed medication that they should not take together
- Patients prescribed medication they are allergic to
- Incorrect dosage amount or period
- Wrong medication (prescribed/dispensed)
Just one of these errors can have severe consequences for a patient, including allergic reactions, sickness, brain damage or death.
Delay in treatment
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, staff shortages and chronic underfunding, over 7 million patients are currently waiting for treatment, with 2.91 million patients waiting up to 18 weeks, according to British Medical Association statistics. The time from diagnosis to treatment is critical, and the longer a patient waits, the longer they’re left in pain, and, in some cases, they are less likely to recover. Additionally, their symptoms may worsen, leading to the need for further rehabilitation, surgeries or medicine.
Pregnancy & birth injuries
Pregnancy and birth injuries can happen to a mother and her baby and can occur at any stage. Examples of this include the following:
- Throughout their Pregnancy – Incorrect or lack of screening for developmental conditions and disabilities, mismanagement of mother’s health (Gestational Diabetes, Pre-eclampsia), failure to treat illnesses such as UTIs or flu in the mother and wrongful birth cases (where sterilisation or vasectomies have failed).
- During Labour – induced labour, use of forceps or vacuum extractors, incorrect sutures, failure to provide adequate medical care and support to Mum and baby during a difficult or traumatic birth, infant brain damage or injury, negligent caesarean sections, third and fourth perineal tears and incorrect episiotomies.
- Post-birth – medical negligence leading to stillbirth, miscarriage or neonatal death, failure to treat neonatal hypoglycaemia, retained products of conception (RPOC), and congenital hip dysplasia.
These are just a fraction of the claims made regarding pregnancy and birth injuries. With over 500,000 deliveries carried out between 2021-2022, hospitals must be held to account for the estimated 300,000 women developing PTSD in the UK, according to the Birth Trauma Association.
Negligent medical advice
For a patient to make an informed decision that is in the best interests of their health and in line with their beliefs, values and needs, first, they need to have all the information. Medical professionals should advise every patient of the risks of a procedure or treatment, share any alternative options, and allow the patient time to decide. However, some doctors fail to do this for their patients resulting in surgery or treatment that:
- The patient does not want to have.
- Fails or does not solve the issue.
- Causes prolonged pain and suffering.
When this happens, a patient is well within their rights to place a claim for negligent medical advice, as they should have been able to make an informed decision with the support of their doctor.
Contact Waldrons Solicitors
When you step foot in a hospital or GP surgery, you expect to be treated respectfully and your symptoms to be taken seriously. Medical professionals have a duty of care, and when your trust is broken through negligence, it can lead to long-term repercussions for your mental and physical health and finances. It is a legal right, and a claim is essential if you think you have been a victim.
Taking that first step can feel overwhelming, so we recommend using our free telephone consultation service to speak to one of our expert medical negligence lawyers. If you have grounds for a claim, we can set up a free initial meeting to discuss your case in more detail at home or at one of our offices. At Waldrons Solicitors, our lawyers have a wide range of experience securing claims on behalf of our clients. We fully understand the stress and trauma you will have suffered and will work hard to guarantee you the best possible outcome. We operate on a no-win, no-fee agreement, meaning that you are protected from legal fees if we do not successfully secure compensation. If you’re ready to start making a claim today, please call on one of the numbers below or fill in our online contact form.
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