What is medical negligence law?

When we require medical attention, we put our trust in the medical experts whose job it is to care for us.

And in most cases, this trust is well placed.

According to the 2016 Care Quality Commission inpatient satisfaction survey1, 86% of those surveyed rated their overall NHS inpatient experience as a seven or more out of ten.

As the survey shows there are millions of people each year who are pleased with the care and treatment they receive.

However, there are times when, within both NHS and private medical settings, things go wrong.

In such circumstances the impact of a healthcare professional making a mistake or not taking due care can be significant – and sometimes life changing.

Are medical negligence claims just for NHS settings?
Medical negligence law covers a wide range of things, from a delay in getting the right treatment to incorrect diagnosis, wrongful birth and even inaccurately dispensed prescriptions.

Covering all aspects of medical care, cases of medical negligence aren’t just for NHS settings. Also known as clinical negligence, medical negligence can occur in all kinds of healthcare settings including at a GP’s practice, a private clinic, a dental practice or at a pharmacy.

What constitutes medical negligence?
Where there has been a breach of the duty of care a medical professional has for your care, there may be a case to answer for medical negligence.

Duty of care relates to the care a healthcare professional must employ to ensure they do not cause injury to those they are caring for. This also means healthcare professionals must anticipate any risks related to their patient’s care and look to prevent these risks occurring.

A failure of duty of care could include failing to explain the risks of any treatment, failure to get consent for the treatment undertaken, taking insufficient care when performing surgery, prescribing the wrong medication or creating an unnecessary delay in diagnosing what’s wrong.

For a medical negligence case to be successful, it must be proven that the resulting issues would not have occurred if the patient has been treated by a competent healthcare professional. It must also be demonstrated that the resulting treatment was a cause, or factor, in the injury that is being claimed for.

Making a claim
Medical negligence can result in life changing injuries. As such, compensation can be necessary to help fund future care and to help those injured get their lives back on track.

When it comes to making a claim, time is of the essence. There is a three-year time limit on making a medical negligence claim.

This complex area of law requires expertise to gather all the relevant information in order to build a case that offers the best chance of a successful outcome.

While compensation can be significant, for many people financial gain is not the main motivator in pursuing a claim. Injured parties often pursue medical negligence for a sense of justice and to hopefully prevent the same thing happening to others in the future.

Our team of legal experts are highly experienced in handling medical negligence cases and can advise on whether there is a case to answer. To discuss your circumstances with a member of the team, contact us.


1 www.nhsconfed.org/resources/key-statistics-on-the-nhs

If you’d like to find out more about the legal services offered by Smith Partnership, don’t hesitate to contact us via info@smithpartnership.co.uk. Alternatively, speak to a member of our team directly on 0330 123 1229.

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