Medical Negligence Guide


How do you prove medical negligence?

To make a successful claim for medical negligence compensation you have to prove two things:

  • That the standard of care you received fell below that of a reasonably competent health care professional in that specific area of medicine (breach of duty)
  • That you have suffered a physical or mental injury as a direct result of the negligent action (causation)

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether the harm has been caused directly by the medical negligence or as a consequence of some underlying disease or illness.

For a clinical negligence claim to be successful you have to prove both breach of duty and causation. You cannot claim compensation just because someone has done something wrong, or the outcome of treatment is not what you had hoped for. You have to prove that the standard of care fell below the reasonable standard and this has caused you significant injury.

How to report medical negligence and write a letter of complaint?

You can make a formal complaint to the hospital, GP surgery, or other healthcare provider via their complaints procedure.

Consider who your claim is against

If the claim is against your GP you should write to the Practice Manager. If it is against the hospital you should write to the Complaints Manager. Bear in mind that your medical negligence complaint letter should have ideally been received within 6 months of the event, or at most within a year.

Check the medical negligence complaints procedure before drafting your letter of complaint

The NHS has a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) designed to help you through the complaints process. Your letter of complaint should then include the following:

  • Details of the treatment you received
  • Where the treatment took place and the date
  • Details of what happened along with relevant dates and times
  • Details of the names and position of individuals concerned
  • An explanation of why you are dissatisfied
  • A list of all the questions you want answering
  • Make it clear in your letter what outcome you wish to achieve such as an apology or a review of current procedures etc.

Once you have made your complaint you should receive a full response within 3 months.

The purpose of this procedure is to inform the hospital or care provider of your complaint. You may receive an explanation or an apology if they accept that your complaint is justified. The complaints procedure however is separate to a claim for compensation. If you wish to claim compensation, you should seek independent legal advice from solicitors who specialises in medical negligence claims.

How to make a medical negligence claim?

Step 1

To start a claim for medical negligence you should seek independent legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in these types of cases. It is important to do this as soon as possible because there are strict time limits for making a claim. If you have already made a formal complaint, keep a copy of this and any response received as this may assist your claim.

Step 2

Try to provide as much information as you can, with accurate dates of appointments or treatment whenever possible. Your solicitor should be able to give you some initial advice in relation to your case, although it is likely that they will need to investigate matters further before advising whether or not your claim is likely to be successful.

Step 3

Once you have instructed a solicitor they will begin to assess and investigate your claim. This normally begins with obtaining your medical records, which will need to be fully reviewed. Medical reports from an expert will then need to be obtained to support your claim.

Step 4

Your solicitor will then explain the next steps in your claim, which will depend on the nature of your particular case and may involve further medical examinations etc.

How much compensation will I receive for my medical negligence claim?

The actual amount of compensation varies significantly and depends on the injury sustained and the effects of that injury. We can only give you an idea of the likely amount of compensation you will receive after we have assessed and considered the details of your claim. An accurate assessment can only be made after medical evidence has been obtained.

How can we help you?

If you believe you may have a case the first thing to do is contact us. We are specialists in dealing with claims for medical negligence and are happy to give you some initial advice. Visit our medical negligence claims page for more information on making a claim with us, or if you're ready to speak to us, call us on 08000 93 00 94. Remember, you will not be obliged to do anything further.

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