Medical malpractice

Specialty of Forensic medicine

What is malpractice?

Malpractice, or clinical negligence, is when a medical professional or organisation breaches its duty of care towards a patient. It can be caused by several types of errors:

  • Imprudence: acting with lack of wisdom, judgement and care.
  • Negligence: omission, carelessness or lack of effort.
  • Inexperience: not having enough training or experience to perform a particular medical procedure.
  • Failure to abide by the rules: not following the rules of management of a patient previously established by a consensus of professionals.

If a medical professional or organization is found to be negligent, you may be able to take legal action and be eligible for compensation. Broadly speaking, when treating a medical condition it is not always possible to control or predict the outcome, and it can therefore be difficult to determine whether something constitutes malpractice.

Examples of malpractice

Any of the following could potentially constitute malpractice:

  • failure to report scan results or refer to a specialist
  • failure to conduct relevant and important investigations
  • misdiagnosis or failure to spot an illness entirely
  • wrongful birth as a result of failed sterilization
  • severe harm to the mother or baby during birth
  • infection due to poor hygiene
  • prescription of the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
  • negligent medical advice
  • performing the wrong operation
  • performed an operation or procedure without your consent
  • leaving foreign objects in the body

Who can raise a medical malpractice claim?

You can raise a claim if you have suffered personal injury as a result of clinical negligence and it has been less than three years since the incident. You can also raise a claim if you are the next of kin of someone who suffered as a result of clinical negligence but cannot take legal action because they lack the capacity to do so.

The compensation you may be entitled to depends on what occurred, but can cover compensation for pain and suffering as well as loss of earnings, payment for treatment, and any extra costs associated with adapting your home or carrying out daily activities.

To start a claim, you should visit a solicitor who specializes in medical negligence cases. A solicitor will charge for the advice provided, but many offer advice on a “no win, no fee” basis.

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