Category Archives: Medical negligence

What do I do if I have suffered a medical misdiagnosis?

Getting the news that you have a serious illness like cancer or heart disease is a devastating blow at the best of times. But when this diagnosis is delayed, and your condition has got worse as a result, the news will be even harder to bear. If you have suffered a misdiagnosis then you may be able to claim compensation for medical negligence.

What is misdiagnosis?

Misdiagnosis is where a medical professional offers a patient a prognosis on a condition based on their symptoms, but the prognosis ends up being incorrect and the condition is actually something else. Similarly, misdiagnosis can be where a patient is told they are fine, when they have a condition.

Fortunately, most of the time patients get correctly diagnosed and treated. However, when a patient receives an incorrect diagnosis, or their condition is missed altogether, the results can be potentially life-changing or even life-threatening,

What kinds of misdiagnosis are there?

The most common types of misdiagnosis are:

  • Where you have been told that you have something less serious than your actual condition and as a result you’ve had delayed treatment.
  • If you’ve been told you had a condition, but you did not and had unnecessary surgery.
  • Where you have received the wrong diagnosis and had unnecessary treatment.
  • If you had a condition but it was completely missed by the medical professional.
  • If you suffered psychological harm at being told a medical diagnosis that was not true.

There are a number of ways that misdiagnosis can happen, from not carrying out the correct tests to misinterpreting results.

What can I do if I’m not able to work after a misdiagnosis?

Unfortunately, the misdiagnosis of a serious condition like cancer could leave you extremely unwell and unable to work as a result. This can make a difficult time even more stressful as you worry about your condition and how you are going to make ends meet.  If you have suffered medical negligence then you may be able to secure interim payment to get you through while your claim progresses.

The amount you can ultimately claim in compensation varies greatly from case to case. This is based on how seriously you have suffered and the impact the misdiagnosis has had on your life. You will also be able to claim for loss of earnings and for any long-term rehabilitation that you may need.

Claims must generally be made no more than three years after the misdiagnosis is discovered. While this is a challenging time, getting compensation for your suffering will help you get you the rehabilitation and support you need.

Optician negligence and the effect on your eyesight

Your eyes are one of your most important organs. When they’re damaged, you can suffer severe consequences.

If the damage was the result of negligence on the part of an optician or optometrist, it is perhaps even more devastating than if it was the result of illness or an accident.

When this type of medical negligence affects you, it’s a frightening time. You may not know how you might end up affected in the long term or what the legalities surrounding such an experience are.

How could you experience harm by an optician?

Visits to the optician are meant to be simple and painless. You’re supposed to just get your vision checked and to have any visual aids upgraded or altered. For a typical visitor to an optician, it shouldn’t involve anything more taxing than this.

However, this isn’t always the case for everyone. There are occasions when things go wrong and you end up suffering physical harm from the negligence your optician has shown. This could be the result of a misdiagnosis of an eye condition, which is then left to deteriorate, therefore causing you to suffer more harm to your vision.

You might also receive the wrong prescription for your glasses’ lenses, which can have a degenerative effect on your vision. Delayed diagnosis and treatment is another concern. If your optician or optometrist does notice that you’re suffering from an eye condition, but doesn’t act swiftly enough, you could suffer from irreversible sight damage.

The effect on your sight and life

After an experience such as this, you could suffer from any number of physical and psychological symptoms. It is important to recognise what you could find yourself going through so you know what your optician may have caused.

You could find yourself suffering from blurred vision or a decrease in sharpness. You may experience double vision, which could result in trouble reading or viewing certain forms of content. Problems with your eyesight can also cause significant headaches and migraines, as well as neck and shoulder pain.

The worst symptom resulting from substandard optical treatment, however, is partial or full loss of vision. This could be irreversible, so it’s vital to take action as soon as you notice any changes to your sight.

These physical symptoms can have a resulting impact on your mental and emotional health. You might find that you become more anxious and nervous about leaving the house if you can’t see as well as you once did. This could result in a drop in confidence and self-esteem.

You could also find yourself suffering from depression, which could then impact on your family life. Your relationships with your loved ones could become strained and difficult to manage.

Meanwhile, if you are struggling to see properly, you could find that you can no longer drive. This could have an impact on your work, if you’re no longer able to get there or carry out necessary duties behind the wheel. This can have real financial implications.

Your quality of life can be affected in so many ways after suffering from vision damage. It just emphasises how important proper optical treatment is.

If you have not received this level of care, you can take legal action. Optician negligence is something to take seriously. It has far-reaching and long-term consequences, so don’t assume there is nothing you can do about it.

Image copyright: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek

When GPs get it wrong

Our first port of call when we’re not well is usually our GP. And, in most cases, we’re treated effectively and sent on our way to recover.

However, there are instances when GPs get it wrong. Medical negligence – and the resulting ill health and injuries – can be the result.

How often do GPs get it wrong?

If you’re due to visit your GP, you can rest assured knowing that you’re more likely than not going to be affected by them making a mistake. Errors and negligence are a rarity.

However, there is always an exception. In 2017/18 – according to the NHS’ most recent statistics –the health service received a total of 75,782 complaints about GPs. Some 24, 676 were upheld, while 9,917 were partially upheld.

The NHS reported that the most complaints came from those aged 26 to 55, with 31,276 made in 2017/18. However, this is not surprising, given that this is the widest age range in the data available, spanning 29 years. The second highest number of complaints were made by those aged 56 to 64. Those in this range made 11,242 complaints.

Meanwhile, the fewest complaints were made by or on behalf of children between six and 17, at 2,529.

What might go wrong?

Some of the bases for patient complaints made about GPs in 2017/18 included:

  • Clinical treatment, including errors
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Not gaining consent for treatment – often through not properly explaining side effects or potential complications, therefore leaving the patient unable to make an informed decision
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Failing to refer a patient to a specialist
  • Failure to diagnose a condition
  • Prescribing errors

Risks of clinical negligence

A GP is your first stop – there to help direct you to the appropriate healthcare resources. When an error happens right at the first instance that someone seeks help, it throws all further healthcare off track.

If you’re given the wrong diagnosis by a GP, you won’t then receive the treatment you’ll need to recover. You may also find that you are prescribed a treatment that you should not be undergoing, potentially worsening your initial condition and general health.

You may also experience a delayed diagnosis, which could lead to the exacerbation of your condition. In the case of illnesses such as cancer, this could have life-threatening implications.

What to do

Who to take your complaint to can be confusing to establish. This is down to the fact most GPs are not employed directly by the NHS, but are contracted to provide these services. However, every surgery will have a process in place to deal with complaints, so you may choose to first address the surgery.

You can also choose to complain to NHS England about the service you have been provided with. The organisation is responsible for GPs contracts and ensuring they’re carrying out the terms of the contracts.

But if you have suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence, you may want to instruct a solicitor to help you take action against those responsible. You may find that you’re entitled to compensation for the suffering you have been through.

Image copyright: Cathy Yeulet.

Deciding whether to make a medical negligence claim

You’re not going to be in a particularly healthy state when you go looking for medical attention. If you require treatment, something is wrong.

When this goes wrong for you, it can feel worse because of the weakened state you may have already been in. This is when you might want to start thinking about the viability of making a medical claim.

An issue of trust

Experiencing medical negligence is a devastating betrayal of trust. You agree to undergo a certain treatment because you’re assured that it’s going to help you start feeling better. But mistakes do happen. The NHS saw a £9 billion cost of harm in 2018/19, showing just how possible it is for these errors do happen.

You should be able to trust your clinicians. If they let you down, you have the right to get justice for what you’ve been through. However, it is an emotive issue. When it comes to taking legal action against our healthcare providers, particularly the NHS, we find it very difficult to get comfortable with the issue.

But if you can’t trust your doctors to deliver the healthcare that they should provide, you have the right to justice.

What it will do

Some people think that making a medical negligence claim is about compensation. However, for most victims of this kind of malpractice, it’s about getting the person responsible to own up to the mistakes they have made.

In a majority of cases, those who have suffered from medical negligence want to help stop it happening to anyone else. And one of the best ways of doing so is to draw attention to what went wrong in your case. If the trust responsible for the negligence can address what happened to you, there’s a good chance it can stop it happening again to someone else.

Getting back to yourself

A medical or hospital negligence claim can result in compensation. But it is intended to help get you back to the position you were in before you suffered from this substandard care. It covers the pain and suffering you’ve been through, as well as any further treatment you will require.

This means it can help you pay for rehabilitation or physiotherapy, as well as any necessary adaptations to your home or vehicle to help you get around. It also extends to compensate for any loss of earnings you’ve suffered as a result of not being able to work.

Rather than it being a payout to keep someone quiet or to allow you to benefit financially, medical negligence compensation is meant to improve your quality of life. That malpractice shouldn’t have happened to you, but it did. And you are entitled to the opportunity to get back to who you were before it ever happened.

Deciding to claim

So when you’re thinking about whether you want to make a claim after experiencing medical negligence, don’t forget that you are entitled to justice. You are entitled to help in getting you back to the position you were in before it ever happened. And you are entitled to have any resulting losses compensated for.

It’s your legal right.

Image copyright: Dmitrii Shironosov

Making a medical claim: what to consider

Medical problems are stressful and often utterly exhausting. But when you seek help for a condition and then find that you’re left in an even worse position, it can result in a real sense of betrayal.

This is why medical negligence is one of the worst breaches of trust. But more than that, it can cause significant health problems, as well as real emotional and financial troubles. And these can take a long time to get over.

After an experience of medical negligence, you may find yourself wondering what to do.

Do you want to take action?

Making a medical claim is one way of holding those responsible to account. This makes it a good option if your priority is obtaining justice for what happened to you. It allows you the opportunity to tell people what happened to you.

A medical negligence claim can also encourage the organisations responsible for your health problems to address what went wrong. This can then help those in charge to prevent this negligence taking place again, therefore stopping it happening to anyone else in the future.

There are also other aspects to think about when considering a claim. For example, will this course of action help you get the peace of mind you may be searching for? And will it help you get back on your feet – physically or financially?

What are the financial implications?

After suffering from medical negligence, there is a real possibility that you’ll find yourself affected financially. This is because you may find that you have to pay for further medical treatments or you may have to take time off work to recover. And in many cases, if you’re not working, you’re not earning.

That could leave you in a precarious financial position. And there is often no simple way of getting out of that. After all, you can’t simply go back to work if you’re not feeling physically well enough.

If you’re worried about the cost of pursuing a claim, however, you have options. You could take on the services of a specialist no win no fee medical negligence solicitor, for example. This means you won’t have to pay out for the claim upfront. And you’ll only have to pay your lawyer’s fees if your claim is successful, taking the financial burden off you.

How to prepare for a claim

Making a medical claim is often more straightforward than you may think. One act that will help make the process even simpler is to have all of your evidence together in one place. This makes it easier to recall the facts when discussing your case with your solicitor.

This means you should keep all records of your case, starting from the first visit for the initial condition you were seeking help for. If you’ve had additional medical examinations, you should ensure you have the records of these. This is important when it comes to proving how the negligence you suffered negatively affected you.

It is also advisable to be completely honest and open with your solicitor. This will help avoid any surprises further down the line, giving you the best chance of securing the compensation that could help you get back to your former self.

Image: copyright seoterra.

Medical negligence claims vs personal injury claims

Need to make a healthcare related claim but not sure what type of claim you should be making? You generally have two options when looking to make a medical claim. These include medical negligence and personal injury claims.

In order to receive justice, it’s important to ensure you are making the right type of claim. Here, you will discover a brief overview of each type of claim and how they are dealt with in court.

What is a medical negligence claim?

A medical negligence claim applies when you or a loved one has received negligent care at the doctors, health clinic or hospital. It could be that you’ve experienced damage or loss because of the care you received. It could relate to both physical damages or psychological damages if being treated within the mental health setting.

What is a personal injury claim?

With personal injury claims, you’ll be suing any type of company or individual for an accident you experienced. It could be a slip or fall or shelving which wasn’t installed correctly which fell and caused injury. Or, you could have been a passenger in a car when you experienced an accident. These types of accidents can happen anywhere and don’t involve damages or loss specifically within the medical setting. They also tend to be very black and white in terms of blame.

How the two differ in court

With both clinical negligence and personal injury claims, you need to be able to prove that the person or company you are suing, caused your injury or damages. Personal injury claims tend to be straight forward, whereas medical negligence claims can be complex. If the medical professional can show that they did what ought to be done, it can dismiss the entire case.

For this reason, you’ll typically need a much more experienced and specialised lawyer for a medical negligence claim. Although it is also worth noting that the majority of medical negligence cases get settled before they even reach the courts. That being said, a good lawyer can help you get the best settlement deal if you can prove any wrongdoing.

As you can see, there are clear differences between personal injury claims and medical negligence claims. The above are some of the main differences and how they differ in the courts. Remember, it is crucial you get yourself a good lawyer, particularly if you are filing a medical negligence claim.

The legal considerations of medical negligence claims

When you need medical attention, you are trusting the experts who treat you to provide you with the very best level of care. Most of the time, your trust is well placed.

However, there may be times where you feel like you or a loved one haven’t been shown the appropriate level of care that you should have been. In these instances, you may be entitled to put in a medical negligence claim. Here, you’ll discover more about these types of claims and the considerations to take into account before making one.

What is a medical negligence claim?

A medical negligence claim is the legal process of complaining about the medical care you’ve received. If you feel the level of service was below what it should have been and you or a loved one has suffered because of it, you can make a claim against the professionals who treated you.

You will need to be able to prove the negligence in court. While most negligence claims can be settled without having to go through the courts, there is a chance that you will need to attend a hearing.

How does it work?

In order to make a medical negligence claim, firstly you’ll need to ensure you’re claiming within three years of the incident. Generally speaking, the earlier you make the claim, the better it will be for you. If you were to wait a year or two to make a claim, questions could be raised over why you waited.

In order to make the claim, you’re going to need a good lawyer. You can find a professional through companies such as National Accident Helpline. It’s really important to ensure they are properly trained and experienced within the medical negligence field. They will be able to explain the process, as well as walk you through it step by step.

In terms of the costs, most solicitors tend to offer a no win, no fee arrangement. However, you may be expected to fund the claim upfront, in which case you may need private funding.

What could I claim for?

There are a lot of things you can claim for in terms of medical negligence. It doesn’t have to be treatment you’ve received through an hospital. You could also claim for dental work, a problem that occurred at an eye clinic, or for cosmetic surgery work you’ve had done. If the medical care damaged your health and could have been avoided, you can make a claim for medical negligence.

It’s important to remember that if you are planning on siling a medical negligence claim, you are going to need proof. This means you’ll need physical records of your care and treatment. Without it, your claim is unlikely to be accepted.

Why misdiagnosing diabetes 1 can be extremely serious

A lot of people go to the doctor feeling tired and having an increased thirst, but a lot of the time it is overlooked by the doctor, and diabetes tests aren’t run as frequently as they should be. Diagnosing Diabetes 1 too late may cause serious harm and you may have yourself a serious medical negligence case on your hands.

Although there are two types of diabetes, both are indications that there is too much glucose in the blood.  Here are the differences between the two diabetes:

Diabetes Type 1 – Only 1 in every 10 diabetics have diabetes type 1 which is where your body doesn’t produce insulin, and it is normally developed in childhood. A common perception of this type of diabetes is that it is a childhood illness, which is why doctors sometimes will assume an adult has diabetes 2 (less serious) instead.

Diabetes Type 2 – 96% of adults over 30 that develop diabetes have Type 2. This is where the body doesn’t respond to insulin as well as it should and those that develop it, need to adjust their lifestyle and diet and/or are given medication to help the body respond better to it. This type tends to develop in older patients, commonly to those that are overweight.

Getting the wrong diabetes diagnosis

As previously mentioned, Type 1 diabetes is perceived to be a childhood illness, and therefore, some adults that visit their GP can sometimes get wrongly diagnosed. Research by the University of Exeter discovered that this happens a lot of the time, and once diagnosed wrongly, it can take a year on average to correct the diagnosis.

Someone that this has happened to is Theresa May, the UK Prime-Minister. She was diagnosed with Type 2, although she in fact had Type 1.

Getting the diagnosis wrong can technically lead to serious fatalities. Once the body runs out of insulin, harmful ketones build up in the body and there is the risk of developing a condition called ketoacidosis. This needs to be treated promptly to avoid any serious fatalities. 1 in every 9 adults with Type 1 diabetes were admitted to hospital with ketoacidosis.

Can you relate to this?

If you or someone you know has been misdiagnosed with diabetes and therefore suffered as a result, you may have a medical negligence claim for compensation.

As previously mentioned, diabetes can be fatal when left untreated, and misdiagnoses that have led to a patient’s death may also mean that family can bring a claim.

New safer maternity care plan aims to reduce medical negligence claims

maternity-nhs

Within the last month, seven NHS sites throughout England were named early adopters of specific recommendations laid out through the Safer Maternity Care plan. A combination of more personalised care plans for expectant mothers and their newborn children, greater access to care at a single location, and community collaboration to better manage growing caseloads were all prescribed as trial approaches under the plan, on the wings of a recent Better Births report. In the telling report, advocates for quality maternity care highlighted the need for greater transparency and a clearer focus on protecting a high-need patient population.

In addition to the provisions for increased maternity care services throughout NHS trusts, the Safer Maternity Care plan brings attention to one glaring issue plaguing the nation’s healthcare system: the cost and time-consuming process of bringing a claim against a provider when avoidable harm has occurred. A new rapid resolution and redress scheme (RRR) aims to reduce the litigation culture by allowing families who have faced issues during a pregnancy or delivery to go through a more streamlined process to get not only financial support but answers to why an incident took place. Overall, the RRR has the potential to lend a necessary hand by providing greater transparency while also reducing costs for the NHS – but some concerns exist.

The problem in combatting litigation culture

Each year in England, nearly 1,000 newborns die or are diagnosed with severe brain injuries due to avoidable harm experienced during the mother’s pregnancy. Through the current claims process, families who have suffered these insurmountable losses don’t see any sort of resolution for 11.5 years, on average, and the NHS is left with a significant, burdensome bill that tops half a billion pounds each year. The rapid resolution and redress scheme included in the Safer Maternity Care plan may be a step in the right direction toward reducing these losses for all parties involved by fast-tracking complaints to determine if avoidable harm was a factor and if so, what compensation should be paid to the family to offset these burdens.

A solicitor from Patient Claim Line, a medical negligence law firm that deals with cases of poor care during pregnancy or errors made during the birth explains the worry surrounding the RRR compensation scheme as part of the Better Births recommendations. “In the large number of maternity care cases we see, it is rare that financial compensation is the motivating factor behind bringing a claim. Instead, families want to understand who holds the responsibility for avoidable harm, and they want open and honest communication with the healthcare system throughout the process.” A rapid resolution and redress scheme has the potential to push claims through the funnel at a speed that doesn’t allow for a sound solution to what truly burdens the families who have suffered due to lacking maternity or post-natal care. Additionally, with setting the courts out to be a choice of last resort for suffering families, it may be a challenge to determine if the compensation received through the RRR scheme is enough to cover expenses associated with life-altering outcomes of poor maternity care.

Instead of focusing its efforts on speeding up the process of compensation, the NHS may serve maternity care patients better by focusing on prevention of avoidable harm cases from the start. The Safer Maternity Care plan does address some of these concerns, with recommendations that include adding a funding mechanism for NHS-wide training as well as an innovation fund that promotes the discussion of new ways to go about providing maternity care to a growing patient population. In addition, the recommendations suggest the creation of safe spaces for doctors and medical staff where sharing of information relating to best practices and new ideas for care can be done without barriers or judgment.

While the rapid resolution and redress scheme holds promise for reducing the rising cost of litigation on the side of NHS trusts, families stand to lose overall if the claims process is reduced to a singular focus of quickness. Transparency, instead, needs to be at the forefront of changes to maternity care across the board, with a clear focus on providing suffering families true and accurate answers to their pressing questions, in addition to offering the full financial support they need to move ahead with their lives.

Highlights of the NHS Litigation Authority 2014/15 annual report

The recent annual report of the NHS Litigation Authority has targeted the rising costs of clinical negligence claims. According to the report, 1% of the annual NHS budget was spent on claimant legal costs.

The amount of damages and costs are rising, but so too are the number of accidents, and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is urging the government to focus on reducing the number of accidents rather than going after claimant costs. The NHS LA has set aside £26bn to cover outstanding liabilities, and introducing fixed costs could save around £80m. However, personal injury lawyers believe while the focus on reducing accidents is a worthwhile one, it may be misguided due to the number of meritorious and legitimate claims that still exist. Without the possibility of claims against negligent providers, real change in practices may not occur.

NHS report

The increase in the number of reported incidents that the NHS LA raises could be a positive shift that it indicates a better reporting culture aimed at improving patient safety. According to a research carried out this year by Patient Claim Line, a specialist medical malpractice team, 14% of people claiming for medical negligence injuries are ultimately persuaded to do so by a medical professional.

In 2014/15, 66% of clinical negligence expenditure went on damages, 25% on claimant costs and 9% on defendant costs. Claimants in all claims resolved in 2014/15 collectively sought £326m in legal costs, but either settled for, or were ordered by the court to accept, £219m. This means the NHS LA reduced costs by a third on average.

The proposal to cap legal costs has been met with strong opposition from claimant lawyers. Jonathan Wheeler, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said: “Savings could be made if the NHS LA were to admit liability where is it obviously due, rather than defend until the door of the court and then settle at the last minute, having run up huge costs on both sides along the way. The NHS would help the NHS LA in its commitment to defend public funds if it was to steer its focus on preventing harm in the first place and righting wrongs when they happen.

“The NHS LA is a ferocious defender and is clearly proud that 64% of claims are successfully defended in court. But just because the NHS did not have to pay any compensation does not mean that the claimants did not have valid cases, or that they are deceitful for pursuing claims. … While the NHS LA should rightly protect the public purse, it is unfair to suggest that unsuccessful claims were ever ‘unmeritorious’.”

The annual report identified a number of “potential drivers” of clinical negligence, including an increase of the number of patients being treated by the NHS, reported incidents and lower value claims. The NHS LA has also flagged that there are some cases in which claimant legal costs have been disproportionate in relation to the value of the claims; while this may be true, there are numerous reasons why. For example, claimant legal costs arise when being required to establish the evidence of clinical negligence, and more time being spent undertaking significant investigatory work.