What is Medical Negligence?

What is medical negligence?

Medical negligence, also known as medical malpractice, refers to a situation where a healthcare professional or medical institution fails to provide an accepted standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. It occurs when a healthcare provider's actions deviate from the recognized medical standard of practice, causing damage, injury, or death to the patient.

Is there a difference between Clinical and Medical negligence?

The terms "clinical negligence" and "medical negligence" are often used interchangeably and refer to the same concept. Both terms describe situations where a healthcare professional fails to meet the required standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. However, it's important to note that the usage of these terms can vary depending on regional or legal contexts within the U.K.

In general, clinical or medical negligence refers to the failure of a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or surgeon, to provide the expected standard of care to a patient. This failure can occur through an act or omission that falls below the accepted standard, causing harm or injury to the patient. Examples of clinical or medical negligence may include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication errors, inadequate treatment, or failure to obtain informed consent.

It is worth mentioning that the legal definitions and requirements for proving clinical or medical negligence may vary from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult with a legal professional or seek local jurisdiction-specific information for precise details regarding the terminology and legal implications of clinical or medical negligence.

What are some examples of Medical Negligence?

  1. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: When a healthcare professional fails to correctly identify a patient's condition in a timely manner, leading to a delay in appropriate treatment or the administration of incorrect treatment.
  2. Surgical errors: Mistakes made during surgical procedures, such as operating on the wrong body part, leaving foreign objects inside the patient's body, or making errors in anesthesia administration.
  3. Medication errors: Incorrect prescription, administration, or dosage of medications, which can result in harmful side effects, adverse reactions, or interactions.
  4. Birth injuries: Injuries sustained by a newborn or the mother during childbirth due to negligent actions or improper medical care.
  5. Failure to obtain informed consent: When a healthcare provider fails to inform the patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a particular treatment or procedure, and the patient suffers harm as a result.

To establish a medical negligence claim, the following elements typically need to be demonstrated:

  1. Duty of care: The healthcare professional or institution had a legal obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care to the patient.
  2. Breach of duty: The healthcare professional or institution failed to meet the accepted standard of care, deviating from what a competent professional would have done in similar circumstances.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty directly caused harm or injury to the patient. It must be proven that the negligence was a significant factor in the resulting harm.
  4. Damages: The patient suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result of the healthcare provider's negligence.

To establish a case of medical negligence, certain elements must be proven, including the existence of a doctor-patient relationship, a breach in the duty of care by the healthcare provider, resulting in harm or injury to the patient, and a causal link between the negligence and the patient's harm.

Medical negligence cases can be complex and require the expertise of legal professionals who specialize in medical malpractice to assess the circumstances, gather evidence, and pursue legal action if necessary.

Circle Case Management’s experienced panel of Expert Witnesses are available nationwide for instruction. Our partnership with UkExpertMedical and SL Therapies London provides an end-to-end expert witness report service.  From pagination and medical record collation through to rehabilitation and expert witness reports, Circle Case Management are your one stop Expert shop.

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Posted on July 11th 2023

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