When we are unwell, we place trust in medical professionals to help us return to our normal, healthy selves. While we are in the care of these professionals, whether a doctor or dentist, we expect to receive a reasonable level of care and expertise. Failure to provide this can result in devastating, life-long consequences, affecting the patient and their loved ones. If a patient comes to harm as a result of an individual or a process, this is known as medical negligence.
Throughout Northern Ireland, we are lucky to have a wide range of qualified health professionals working for the NHS or private health units. While the standard of care is usually very good, things can go wrong. Due to this, patients must be aware of their rights and the level of care expected in a medical setting. Here, we outline what you need to know about medical negligence claims.
What is Medical Negligence?
Before making a claim, it is important to understand what is defined as medical negligence. This can help you determine if you have a case and whether it is worth talking to a solicitor. Medical negligence can occur in a number of forms including:
- Surgical Negligence; While millions of successful operations take place each year, mistakes can be made, and the results can be life-changing. Common types of surgical negligence may include poor surgical performance, foreign objects being left inside the body or infection caused by poor hygiene.
- Birth Injuries; Not all birth or pregnancy injuries are fatal however, they can still cause serious harm to the mother or baby. Common issues may include pre-eclampsia, wrongful births or delay/failure to perform a caesarean section.
- Misdiagnosis; As pressure on medical professionals continues to increase, greater numbers of misdiagnoses are taking place. Common grounds for a misdiagnosis claim may include when an illness or condition is missed, incorrect diagnosis or failure to conduct appropriate investigations.
Medical negligence can occur from various medical professionals including doctors, nurses, dentists, surgeons or GPs. However, there are often common factors behind these claims such as practitioner incompetence, understaffing, insufficient hospital funding. Additionally, failure to provide enough training to healthcare professionals may result in them failing to have the necessary skills or knowledge.
Do I Need Proof To Make A Claim?
When making a medical negligence claim, you will need to have physical evidence. If you don’t have this, it is unlikely that the case will go through. Due to this, it is vital that you keep records of everything to do with your case. This may include notes or expert medical opinions. At H McPartland & Sons, our medical negligence solicitors will help you collate this evidence. They will also contact the medical practitioner and request any records or notes relevant to your claim.
How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim?
If you are considering making a medical negligence claim, it is important that you are aware of the time limit. This is known as the ‘limitation period’. The general time limit for these claims is 3 years from the date of the incident. This means that a claim form should be submitted within this time period, initiating the court proceedings. After 3 years, the court may not allow you to bring the claim. Once you make the claim, the process can take anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. However, some cases taking longer depending on the individuals’ circumstances.
At H McPartland & Sons, our team of medical negligence experts are experienced in assessing potential claims and can assist you with any questions you may have. If you or someone you care about has experienced medical negligence and you think you may have a claim, contact us today and talk to a member of the team to find out how we can help you.