What Could Be Classed As Medical Negligence In The UK?

By Lewis Aaliyah. Last Updated 11st June 2023. Welcome to our guide on what is classed as medical negligence. Sometimes, complications can arise when you’re receiving medical treatment. These issues can happen even when a medical professional is adhering to the duty of care they owe to you; although unfortunate, these instances aren’t classed as negligence.

Sometimes, however, you may receive care that falls below the standard you expect. Furthermore, you may be made ill, injured, or have your condition worsen as a result of this substandard care. If this is the case, you may be able to claim compensation for medical negligence.

What could be classed as medical negligence in the UK guide

What could be classed as medical negligence in the UK guide

In the UK, all medical practitioners must be registered to ensure that they adhere to professional standards. Whether your operation was a necessary medical procedure or elective surgery based on cosmetic requirements, the duty of care that is applied is the same.

You have a right to expect the right level of treatment, care and professionalism. We will explain to you what your options are if you were failed in that expectation and what damages you could be awarded.

If you’re looking right now to commence a claim for an injury caused by medical negligence, get in touch by:

  • Calling our team on 020 3870 4868
  • Emailing us at UKlaw.co.uk
  • Using the ‘live support’ option to the bottom right which offers on the spot guidance.

Services And Information

  1. Medical Negligence Claims – How Do UK Medical Negligence Claims Work?
  2. How Do You Prove Medical Negligence?
  3. Compensation For Medical Negligence In The UK
  4. Medical Negligence Claims Examples
  5. Missed Diagnosis And Misdiagnosis
  6. Negligence During Surgery And Surgical Aftercare
  7. Negligence During Childbirth
  8. Negligent Dental Care
  9. Other Types Of Medical Negligence
  10. Time Limits For Claims Classed As Medical Negligence
  11. I Was Harmed By Medical Negligence In The UK, What Should I Do?
  12. Medical Negligence Claims In The UK – No Win No Fee Legal Help
  13. Other Information
  14. Clinical Negligence FAQs

Medical Negligence Claims – How Do UK Medical Negligence Claims Work?

In a healthcare setting, you are owed a duty of care by medical professionals. They should provide a proper standard of care to prevent you from suffering unnecessary harm.

In UK medical negligence claims, you will be expected to submit evidence. This must show that it was a breach of the duty of care that caused your unnecessary suffering. We examine evidence that could support your claim further in this article.

You could potentially claim compensation for negligence in hospitals, dental practices and GP’s and other places that provide healthcare.

Call our advisors for free legal advice if you’ve suffered unnecessarily due to a breach of the duty of care owed to you. They can provide a free assessment of your claim. If it seems eligible, they could connect you to a No Win No Fee solicitor specialising in medical negligence claims.

How Do You Prove Medical Negligence?

Because of the nature of medical problems, not all health or wellbeing developments are within the control of doctors. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that there are limits to what doctors can realistically predict or diagnose.

In order to prove medical negligence, the courts will usually administer something called the Bolam Test. The Bolam test involves asking a panel of the doctor’s peers how they would have acted in the same circumstances.

If they confirm that they would have acted in the same way, then the doctor will not be considered negligent. If this is the case, you won’t be entitled to compensation even if you’ve been injured or made ill by your medical treatment.

However, if they say that they would have acted in a different way, then the care that you received could be classed as negligent. This may mean that you’re entitled to compensation for the additional pain and suffering that you’ve experienced.

As well as showing that a doctor acted negligently, you also need to show that your injuries were directly caused by the negligent care you received and not by the condition or injury you were suffering from. When you seek medical attention, it is likely because you are already suffering from something that is causing you pain and inconvenience, which may be exacerbated by medical negligence. If it would have gotten to this point anyway regardless of the negligent treatment then these situations can become slightly complex.

Compensation For Medical Negligence In The UK – 2022 Payouts

Compensation for medical negligence in the UK can often fall under two heads of claim. They’re known as general damages and special damages. In this section, we’ll describe both of these payments in more detail.

General Damages

This amount is calculated and awarded based on how severe your injuries are, amongst other factors – they can be physical or even psychological. When legal professionals are working out how much general damages for medical negligence claims should be worth, they will address sources such as the medical evidence you present to support your claim. Additionally, they will also turn to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a publication that was last updated in 2022. We’ve included some example entries in the table below. As you can see, each injury is assigned a range of figures that can be used to give a rough idea as to the value of a general damages claim for this ailment.

DamagesAwarded ForAmount
GeneralInfertility resulting from failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancyUp to £170,280
GeneralFailed sterilisation resulting in an unwanted pregnancyIn the region of £10,200
GeneralBelow-elbow amputation£96,160 to £109,650
GeneralSevere anxiety disorder £59,860 to £100,670
GeneralModerately severe anxiety disorder £23,150 to £59,860
GeneralLoss of one kidney with no damage to the other£30,770 to £44,880
GeneralLess serious leg injuries (i) - Left with metal implant and/or limp£17,960 to £27,760
GeneralLoss of spleen - continuing risk of internal infection and disorders due to the damage to the immune system.Up to £26,290
GeneralMinor back injuries (iv) - Where a full recovery is made within three monthsUp to £2,450

Special damages

This is a figure that you may also be eligible to receive. It can be made up of various costs and losses that you experience as a result of your injuries. For example:

  • Loss of earnings – Your ability to work and earn a living may be impacted due to the impact on your health.
  • Medical costs – Prescription medication, some private healthcare procedures etc.
  • Other costs – For instance, you may be unable to go on a trip that has already been paid for, due to your injury

Get in touch with our advisors today if you want to know more about what could be included in a special damages payment, and what medical negligence claims in general could be worth. You can also head to the compensation calculator on our website.

Medical Negligence Claims Examples

If you can prove that a medical professional breached their duty of care to you and this resulted in you suffering unnecessary harm, you might be eligible to claim compensation.

Some examples of when you might be eligible to make a medical negligence claim include:

  • Your GP prescribes you medication that contains something you were allergic to. They were aware of this allergy, as it was stated on your medical records. Due to this, you suffer an allergic reaction.
  • Despite displaying clear symptoms of a fractured ankle, a doctor fails to order an X-ray and misdiagnosis your fracture as a sprain.
  • Your breast cancer is misdiagnosed as a swollen lymph node. This could result in you receiving delayed treatment, and your cancer could spread.

There are other ways that negligence in hospitals or a similar setting can occur.

Speak to our advisors today if you have any questions about medical negligence claims and for examples of the potential compensation that could be awarded for successful claims.

Missed Diagnosis And Misdiagnosis

A medical missed diagnosis can cause a patient’s condition to worsen. A missed diagnosis is where an ailment is not recognised and diagnosed. On the other hand, a misdiagnosis happens when an illness or injury is mistakenly diagnosed as something else.

Either of these could cause further complications with the patient’s health. A missed diagnosis could result in you not getting the treatment you need. A misdiagnosis could also mean that you get treatment you don’t need. In addition, if you are being treated for a condition you do not have then the medication could make you more ill.

Misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis can happen for a number of reasons. These include:

  • The right diagnostic tests not being ordered because symptoms were not identified.
  • The results of a test being interpreted incorrectly.
  • An administrative error resulting in the results of a test being lost or misplaced.

Negligence During Surgery And Surgical Aftercare

There are a number of things that can go wrong in surgery that could cause you more pain and suffering than the condition you needed the operation for. Surgical errors that might occur include:

  • Wrong-site surgery where an operation is performed on the wrong area of the body
  • A foreign object being left in the body after an operation
  • Anaesthesia issues
  • Infection caused by poor hygiene standards during surgery
  • Surgery being performed when it wasn’t necessary for the patient’s health.

Some of these instances, including wrong-site surgery and a foreign object being retained in the body, are classed as Never Events. These are serious incidents that are preventable and should not have happened if all healthcare providers followed the strict frameworks in place to prevent them from occurring.

Never Events are always examples of medical negligence. If you are unsure whether or not the treatment you received was substandard our medical negligence advisors will be able to assess your case for you in a free no-obligation chat. Call today for more information.

Negligence During Childbirth

Childbirth can be difficult to navigate under ideal circumstances. If a midwife or other healthcare provider providing you with care that fell below an acceptable standard, resulting in a birth injury, then you may be able to claim.

Examples of issues during childbirth might include:

  • Failing to identify and treat an infection that could injure the unborn child, like a urinary tract infection
  • Incorrect use of equipment such as forceps
  • Failure to monitor the child or mother for problems in childbirth
  • Injuries to the infant while being delivered or after birth. This could include nerve damage or paralysis caused by delivery. Injuries to an infant during childbirth can be fatal.
  • Retained placenta which isn’t diagnosed or treated in time, leading to further complications

It is expected that mothers who have just given birth will experience some pain and discomfort in the process of labour and as they recover. But if the negligence of a healthcare provider has caused you or your child to suffer more than you otherwise would have, you may be able to claim. Speak with our team today if you or your newborn baby experienced a health problem due to the negligence of a midwife or obstetrician.

Negligent Dental Care

When we speak about medical professionals we mean anyone who is trained in the medical environment and this can also mean dentists, dental nurses and hygienists. As with doctors and nurses dentists also need to abide by professional standards, they too must not deviate from standard procedures or offer a service that is below the expected standards.

Dental negligence can include:

  • Misdiagnosis. If your dentist fails to spot the signs of a condition such as oral cancer because they failed to examine your mouth correctly, resulting in a delay in treatment which causes the condition to be worse than it otherwise would have been, this could be classed as negligence.
  • Extracting the wrong tooth because they read the wrong patient’s notes.
  • Fracturing your jaw when carrying out dental surgery.

For more information about claiming compensation for dental negligence, why not get in touch with our team today? One of our advisors could connect you with a solicitor from our panel if they feel your claim has a good chance of success.

Other Types Of Medical Negligence

Medical negligence can happen when standards of professionalism are deviated from. Different areas of medicine can include;

  • Emergency medicine
  • Radiology
  • Urology
  • Mental health and psychiatric care
  • Gastroenterology
  • Walk-in centre

When a health care professional agrees to treat you and when you become their patient you are instantly owed a duty of care. This means that they agree not to cause you any unnecessary harm. When the duty of care is breached this can mean that mistakes can happen that would not have otherwise taken place. If you are harmed because of such a breach it may mean you are eligible to claim compensation. Call our team for more information.

Time Limits For Claims Classed As Medical Negligence

Generally, there is a three-year time limit on medical negligence claims. This either runs from the date the negligence occurred or the date you became aware that your injuries were caused by negligence. This is referred to as the “date of knowledge”.

There are some exceptions to the three-year limit, however. For instance, if you are under 18, you cannot start a claim on your own behalf. A litigation friend can do this for you. While you’re underage, the time limit is suspended. It begins again if a claim hasn’t been made by the time you turn 18, meaning you have until you turn 21 to claim.

In addition, if the injured person lacks the mental capacity to claim then the time limit is suspended, meaning a litigation friend can claim for them at any point. The time limit starts again in the event that they regain their mental capacity; otherwise, it’s suspended indefinitely.

If you’d like to know more about how long you have to start a compensation claim, why not speak to our team? They’ll be happy to offer you free legal advice about claiming.

I Was Harmed By Medical Negligence In The UK, What Should I Do?

If a medical professional fails their duty of care and medical negligence has occurred, you should consider gathering evidence if you wish to make a claim. From our experience, medical claims in the UK are more likely to be successfully settled if they are supported by evidence.

Evidence you might consider obtaining to prove medical negligence occurred include:

  • Medical records – you are legally allowed to ask for your medical records, including records held by your GP or hospital. They’ll show any injuries you have suffered, alongside any surgeries or appointments you have had.
  • A diagnosis from a medical professional – any qualified medical professional can assess your injuries. You may use their diagnosis in a medical report to prove the extent of any harm you have suffered.
  • Photographic evidence – if you have suffered a physical injury that can be visibly seen, for example, if you have had your arm amputated as a result of unnecessary surgery, make sure to take photographs of your injuries.

If you have suffered due to medical malpractice in the UK, the expert solicitors on our panel have years of experience in helping clients settle medical negligence compensation claims. If you wish to work with a solicitor from our panel, they’ll be able to collect supporting evidence and cover bases of your claim that you might not have thought about.

Medical Negligence Claims In The UK – No Win No Fee Legal Help

When making a medical negligence claim, you may be concerned regarding the upfront cost of legal help. However, you may be able to work with a solicitor under a No Win No Fee arrangement.

All of the lawyers on our panel can work under a No Win No Fee deal. This means that, if your claim succeeds, a small and legally capped percentage of your settlement is awarded to your lawyer. If your claim fails, you are not required to pay them.

If you need any more assistance such as an example of medical negligence payouts, get in touch with our advisors today.

  • Call our team on 020 3870 4868
  • Talk to us about your claim online
  • Use the ‘live support’ option bottom, right which offers on the spot guidance.

Other Information

Below, we have included some additional guides that you may find useful.

Can I claim compensation with a pre-existing condition?

Operation gone wrong 

General Medical Council- Duties of a doctor 

How to complain to the NHS

Care Quality Commission 

Delayed Broken Arm Surgery

Clinical Negligence FAQs

In addition to the highlighted text throughout this article, below are some frequently asked questions about what is classed as medical negligence and the circumstances surrounding it.

What is clinical negligence law?

This is a type of tort law. It sets to provide protection for health care providers and their patients.

Do medical negligence claims go to court?

Some medical negligence claims can go to court. However, NHS Resolution revealed that in 2019/20, 71.5% of claims were settled without court proceedings.

What is the difference between clinical and medical negligence?

Medical negligence and clinical negligence are two terms that are used to describe similar occurrences.

Thank you for reading our guide looking at what can be classed as medical negligence.

Writer FE

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