What is medical negligence?

Negligence is a legal term used to describe a breach of duty of care that causes damage. Employers may be accused of workplace negligence if an accident occurs in an environment deemed unsafe, and workers across all industries can be negligent if they cause harm by failing in their professional duties. A sobering recent example of professional negligence is IT glitches causing deaths in the NHS .

Medical negligence is when a healthcare professional harms a patient by providing substandard care. This can be direct harm such as surgical error or indirect harm like incorrect advice leading to damaging or ineffective treatment.

The main types of medical negligence

There are many different types of medical negligence, but most fall into one of the following categories:

  • Misdiagnosis – incorrectly diagnosing or failing to identify issues and delaying proper care
  • Surgical negligence – such as operating on the wrong limb or leaving behind foreign objects
  • Improper anaesthesia – giving the wrong dose of anaesthetic or no monitoring when under
  • Prescription errors – a bad or fatal reaction to incorrectly prescribed medication
  • Long-term negligence – repeated failure to provide proper care in one or more cases
  • Incorrect advice – recommending ineffective or directly harmful treatments for conditions
  • Birth injuries – poor handling of pregnancy or labour that harms the mother and/or the baby

Remember that negligent behaviour can be present in voluntary medical procedures such as cosmetic surgery and dental work too.

How to seek support

Concerned that you may have suffered at the hands of negligent care from a healthcare professional or organisation? There are several ways that you can seek support, both emotional and financial.

Begin by speaking to trusted friends and family about your situation. Going through the situation with someone else can help you to see where there was negligence, and can make you feel calmer. If you’re facing mental health consequences in the wake of your poor treatment, consider counselling and therapy with a qualified professional.

You may find it healing to pursue a claim for compensation through a national law firm specialising in medical negligence cases. If your claim is successful, this will also lead to a monetary gain that can be used to help you move forward from the damage done such as paying for physiotherapy or home renovation.

If you decide to seek compensation, you will need to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Search for tangible examples of ill-treatment and elaborate on how these have negatively impacted your lifestyle.

Bear in mind that compensation claims can be a long process, especially when made against the NHS. The organisation is currently facing thousands of claims for negligent care which will only be exacerbated by the post-pandemic backlog of appointments and months-long non-urgent waiting lists.