What is Medical Negligence?

You may have heard the term “medical negligence” in conversation or perhaps in adverts. Do you understand what it means in legal terms? Most people assume that it simply means wrongdoing of some sort but there’s a bit more to the topic than that. Medical or clinical negligence is a complex subject which will likely require the assistance of a legal expert but here are a few of the basic principles.

Medical negligence, now known as clinical negligence, is the means by which a person can take his medical attendants to a civil court and attempt to receive compensation. It doesn’t take into account professional conduct or terms of service. In order to prove negligence, the claimant (typically the patient or his survivors) must show that the medical professional owed him a duty of care, that this duty of care was breached and that the patient was harmed in some way due to this negligence.

This breach of the duty of care is the critical component in a clinical negligence case. To simplify, it’s a mistake in treatment. It doesn’t mean the provider is wholly incompetent, just that he or she made an error that caused harm. Any field of treatment from obstetrics to cardiology to psychiatry can be subject to clinical negligence as well as any medical provider. Dentists, midwives, therapists and other medical and paramedical providers could be included in a clinical negligence suit.

A provider who strays from the acceptable treatment standards and thus causes harm to a patient would be guilty of clinical negligence. Here are a few examples of clinically negligent acts:

  • Delaying a referral to a specialist.
  • Failing to diagnose a medical problem.
  • Prescribing or administering incorrect medication.
  • Failing to obtain consent before performing a surgical procedure.
  • Insufficient care in treatment.
  • Failing to warn of side effects or consequences of a treatment or procedure.

The claimant has to prove two things to be awarded compensation: liability and causation. You must show that the medical provider acted in a way that no comparable, competent provider would have acted. You must also show that the harm or injury suffered was caused by the provider’s error and would not have occurred otherwise.

There are limitations on clinical negligence cases so quick action is important. If you feel that you or your family member has been harmed by a medical error, contact an expert for advice straight away.

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