What are the Main Types of Medical Negligence?
Whenever a patient seeks medical attention from an individual or institution, they leave themselves vulnerable to medical negligence. Mercifully, negligent standards of healthcare are very rare in the UK – but mistakes still occasionally happen, and it’s vital that patients feel empowered to take corrective legal action when they do.
As part of the NHS Constitution, the organisation pledges to offer care of a certain quality, and leaves itself open to accusations of medical negligence. Such things are inevitable in an organisation of this size – but in truth, it’s only a minority of those who suffer negligent standards of healthcare that actually go on to take legal action.
It’s important to note that it’s not just individuals who can commit medical negligence, but organisations, too. In the year 2018/2019, the NHS received 10,678 medical negligence claims, which brought the total amount of damages outstanding to just over £83 billion.
So what are the kinds of medical negligence?
A doctor misdiagnosing your ailment can cause two different problems. First, it might cause you to be prescribed treatments with adverse side effects, which might not be effective. Second, it will delay the correct diagnosis. In some cases, such as with cancers, this delay can cause significant deterioration while the real cause goes untreated.
Mistakes during surgery can have consequences ranging from disastrous to inconvenient. A surgeon might leave foreign objects in the patient’s body, causing severe discomfort. They might cause an infection because of improper hygiene, or even perform the wrong procedure. Each case, suffice to say, amounts to medical negligence.
Perhaps the most damaging kinds of surgical negligence stem from the actions of the anaesthetist. If too little anaesthetic is applied, then the patient may be conscious during a procedure which required them to be unconscious. If too much is applied, then permanent brain damage might result. Either is grounds for a medical negligence claim.
Errors don’t need to be committed by doctors to amount to negligence. The pharmacy might be at fault, too. If the wrong medication is dispensed, then the consequences can be just as dire as if you were misdiagnosed. In cases where you’re allergic to the medication you’ve been given, it can be even more so.
Many might hesitate before taking legal action against a seemingly benevolent body like the NHS. The money paid out to patients who’ve suffered from medical negligence might, after all, be used to employ nurses and install equipment. But the fact is that a body like the NHS cannot address its own shortcomings unless there’s a mechanism for identifying wrongdoing, and wrongdoers.
Moreover, those who suffer from negligence are entitled to compensation, however benevolent the responsible party might otherwise be.