Medical/clinical negligence cases can be some of the most complicated and legally technical cases to deal with. It is crucial that those who feel that they or a family member have suffered through medical negligence satisfy themselves that the solicitor they instruct has the necessary experience and expertise to give them the best possible chance of winning their case.
These cases can be very distressing for those involved as the injury or condition is often accompanied by a feeling that they have been let down by the medical professionals they entrusted with their care.
Although medical negligence is fairly uncommon, we are regularly instructed in cases where clients have sustained very serious injuries and/or complications caused by mistreatment or misdiagnosis.
Claims are normally brought against General Practitioners and/or the relevant hospital trust. Clients should be aware that the medical defence unions who represent GPs and the hospital trusts often employ solicitors who are extremely experienced in defending medical negligence cases, and they may attempt to exploit any solicitor who is inexperienced or inefficient.
We know that medical negligence cases must be pursued vigorously and in accordance with the correct procedures. We will not allow delays or tactical manoeuvres to prejudice the successful prosecution of our clients’ claims.
As stated, the law related to medical negligence actions can be extremely complicated. It is important to note that the relevant ‘standard of proof’ is whether the medical professional was guilty of a negligent act or omission that would not be supported by a reasonable body of medical opinion – this is known as the ‘Bolam test’.
The ‘Bolam test’ follows the case of Bolam –v- Friern Hospital Management Committee  in which it was held that.
“The test as to whether there has been negligence or not is not the test of the man on top of the Clapham omnibus because he has a special skill. The test is the standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing to have that special skill. A man need not possess the highest expert skill; it is well-established law that it is sufficient if he exercises the ordinary skill of an ordinary competent man exercising that particular art. A doctor is not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a reasonable body of medical men skilled in that particular art… a doctor is not negligent, if he is acting in accordance with such a practice, merely because there is a body of opinion which takes the contrary view”.
Accordingly, the medical professional will escape liability even if it is possible to show that many or even a majority of doctors would have acted in a different manner.
The standard of proof is therefore extremely high. We work hard on behalf of our clients to achieve the best possible outcome in terms of liability for medical negligence, and also the maximum amount of damages for the injuries and losses suffered
Loss resulting from the negligent act or omission
To succeed in a medical negligence/clinical negligence action, a claimant must prove that the breach of duty caused the injury or made a medical condition worse. This is known as causation and it is usually more difficult for a claimant to prove in medical negligence/clinical negligence matters than in other personal injury cases.
To avoid what would be a ‘trespass on the patient’, a medical professional must obtain the patient’s consent. This consent must be given freely and after relevant information is given with regards to the treatment or procedure proposed.
In some instances such as for emergency treatment, consent may not be possible. If treatment is necessary to save a life, a failure to obtain consent by the medical professional will not result in liability for an assault.
Medical negligence cases invariably require a forensic analysis of extensive medical records and other documentation. It is imperative that such evidence is made available for a lawyer to properly assess exactly what the circumstances of the mistreatment or misdiagnosis are, and to be able to advise fully. Following a specific procedure laid down by the courts, medical records are normally provided to the claimant’s solicitor within approximately 40 days from the date that the request is made.
Unless liability is admitted by the medical professional, supportive expert evidence will then be required for the claimant to prove their case. The experts instructed to provide evidence for our clients are handpicked by us. We have excellent relationships with some of the leading UK medical experts and legal counsel in this area.
The types of injuries that result from medical negligence are extremely wide-ranging and include many different physical and psychological effects. We have considerable experience in this area of practice and we will endeavour to help you in any way we can.