The Medical Negligence Checklist: What to Do, Step by Step

Medical negligence is a serious concern in the UK, and one which has increasingly drawn attention from national media in the last few years. According to data from the NHS’ clinical negligence body NHS Resolution, the ‘provision’ held for claims against the NHS – that is, the fund from which successful negligence claims are paid – has risen from £85 billion to over £128 billion, in response to the growing number and value of claims against the service.

But what do we mean by ‘negligence’ with regards to medical establishments like the NHS? Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare body or professional makes a mistake while treating or caring for a given patient. This can happen in a number of ways: a GP might fail to diagnose a condition during an appointment; alternatively, a surgeon might make a mistake during surgery, causing unnecessary damage and side-effects.

If you believe you have suffered negligent treatment during your interactions with a healthcare service, you may also be wondering what exactly you should do next. Negligence is a serious matter, and can have lifelong consequences in the worst-case scenarios. Here is a simple step-by-step checklist for you to follow.

Get a Second Opinion

Your health is of paramount importance in any situation relating to potential negligence. As such, your health comes first; visit another GP or specialist for a second opinion regarding your condition or ailment. In the event of misdiagnosis, you may finally receive the correct diagnosis and treatment. Where unnecessary injury or side-effects are concerned, you may get helpful advice – and an admission from the second doctor of their cause.

Gather Evidence

Alongside your second opinion, you should take the time to gather as much evidence as you can of the negligence you believe yourself to have suffered. Your doctor’s second opinion could well form part of this evidence, as would any documentation from first consultations and referrals. Make sure to also get any eye-witness testimonies where the negligence may relate to behaviour or treatment.

Speak to a Solicitor

At this point, it would be wise to visit a solicitor with your story and concerns. Specialist medical negligence solicitors have an intimate understanding of the process, and of what criteria qualify a robust negligence case. Here, you can learn if you do indeed have a case – and if so, what compensation you may be entitled to for your troubles.

Observe Time Limits

However, you should also remain mindful of the time limits imposed on your potential case by legal framework. A medical negligence case can only be filed within three years of the negligence taking place – or within three years of your 18th birthday if the negligence occurred during childhood. After this time limit, you will be unable to bring your case to court, making time a precious commodity in the building of your case.

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