A Guide to the Types of Claims Made for Medical Negligence Compensation

Hundreds of claims are successfully made every year for incidents of clinical negligence in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and dentists’ surgeries. In fact, claims for medical negligence compensation have increased in recent years, possibly due to the raised awareness of claims, wider reaching information on how to claim and more successful claims made leading to more solicitors willing to take on more complex or difficult cases.

Surgical Negligence
Many incidents of malpractice during surgical procedures have been claimed for in recent years. These sorts of claims can range from instruments or swabs being left inside body cavities, negligence of surgeons to perform the correct procedure on the patient, surgical procedures performed which turned out to be unnecessary, and failure to warn the patient of risks from the surgery prior to proceeding, to removal of incorrect organs, and so on. These incorrect procedures can seriously affect the patient and may even cause permanent and irreversible damage, but the effects are not always purely physical. The stress and disruption caused to individuals who have undergone unnecessary surgery, for example, can be damaging and affect daily life, including the ability to work, perform normal daily tasks and look after children. Any malpractice by a surgeon is serious and should be pursued to find out if a claim can be raised for compensation.

Although dentistry is often considered separately from medical practice, there are many potential hazards that can result in claims made against dentists. Many people have private dental care as opposed to registering with an NHS dentist, but this does not stop them from claiming against a private practitioner if something goes wrong. There are a variety of specifics that claims are raised against. These include failed or negligently placed implants, the extraction of an incorrect tooth, fractures in teeth due to dental treatment, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, or any other kind of negligent surgery, whether for clinical or cosmetic reasons. However, poor treatment generally is a reason in itself to claim against your dentist as if the service they provide is not adequate and leads to harm or suffering on your part, you are entitled to compensation.

Birth Injuries
Many claims are also made for injuries that take place at the birth of the child, whether to the mother giving birth or to the child itself, that could have been avoided were it not for negligent treatment on the part of the medical professionals overseeing the birth. Often, a failure to act quickly when it is clear from readings that an unborn baby is in distress can result in asphyxia in a child, which means that not enough oxygen is getting to their brain. The result of this is that the brain can be damaged and lifelong conditions can be the result such as cerebral palsy. This is a common reason for claiming against injuries occurring at birth, and this sort of negligence case can result in significant compensation claims.

Compensation claims for medical negligence are not limited to the scenarios described above. There are many unique cases where compensation could be awarded, so if you are unsure it is always best to speak to a legal professional who can give advice and help at this difficult time.

NHS review their handling of Clinical Negligence Claims

According to the NHSLA (National Health Service Litigation Service) Report of 2012/2013, clinical negligence claims have risen by 10.8 per cent. The number of claims made in 2011/2012 was 9,143 which have seen an increase of 986 claims in 2012/2013. However, the volumes of non-clinical claims have levelled off.

The NHSLA have recognised the recent increase in numbers of clinical negligence claims and have subsequently changed their assumptions and increased the size of their IBNR provisions as of March 2013. The report showed that the CNST (Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts) which deals with clinical negligence claims occurring after 1995 had experienced a 2 per cent rise in expenditure. Yet, claims arising from incidents occurring prior to 1 April 1995 have seen a decrease of 21.8 per cent in expenditure shown by the ELS (Existing Liabilities Scheme).

In order to manage the rising claims, the NHSLA have publicised that they aim to resolve as many claims as possible without litigation. The report states that they intend ‘to be innovative in our claims handling and to use alternative dispute resolution wherever possible’. Their objective of resolving cases before they reach trial will be achieved by either negotiating a fair settlement or by rejecting cases which are without legal merit. Thus, clinical negligence claims could be resolved much quicker and involving less stress.
The decline in non-clinical negligence claims could be a result of a review of civil costs conducted by Lord Justice Jackson. Following the findings of the review, the resulting reforms were implemented as part of the LASPO (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders) Act 2012. A key term in the act stated the illegality of paying an individual referral fee that involves the provision of legal services.

Government’s four hour waiting time for A&E has been breached for a million patients

hospitalThe Daily Express has reported that since last September, A&E units have seen 980,068 patients waiting longer than the Government’s four hour waiting time target. Between 2009 and 2010 this figure stood at 353,617. Additionally, 172,000 patients were kept on trolleys for between four and twelve hours which suggests a rise of almost 50 per cent. The increase in waiting times has been largely reflected in clinical negligence claims, and it is therefore important that amendments are made.

According to a Royal College of Nursing Survey (RCN), 89 per cent say the pressure has increased in the last six months due to rising number of patients and too few staff. The Telegraph has stated that the A&E departments are understaffed by nearly 10 per cent. A BBC 5 Live Freedom of Information request revealed how in 101 hospital trusts, there were 1,260 vacant posts. The matter is further worsened by figures showing that there were 21.7 million patients last year, a 50 per cent rise compared with a decade ago when there were 14 million annually.

As a result, the analysis suggests that 89 per cent of nurses working on acute and emergency care say that the A&E units are so busy that their patients are put in danger every day. In addition, a poll of 1,021 healthcare workers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also found that one in four doctors and surgeons has been pressured or bullied by managers to act in a way that could undermine patients.

It is likely that clinical negligence will see a further increase in claims related to the A&E services in order to prevent the same situation from reoccurring in the future.