Dealing with the consequences of medical negligence can range anywhere from feeling a little unwell for a while to devastating consequences for the rest of your life. Regardless of the scale or magnitude of medical malpractice that has occurred, patients are entitled to claim compensation for any damages, such as a loss of income, medical costs, and costs for care that have occurred as a result.
If a medical error has left you or a loved one with a life-changing illness or disability, you may also be able to claim for regular healthcare and maintenance over time, such as costs for a home care company or for adapting your home. If you think that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, here’s what you should do.
#1. Contact a good solicitor:
Even if you’re not one hundred percent sure that medical negligence has occurred during your care or that of a loved one, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice and find out what your options are. You may be able to form a case against your healthcare provider if you feel that their lack of due care and attention put yourself or a loved one at risk, even if no illnesses or injuries have occurred as a result.
To have a valid medical negligence claim, you’ll need to be able to prove causation; this means pinpointing the negligent error that put you at risk or led to further health complications in the future. The best medical negligence lawyers will first hear all the information and facts surrounding your situation, before advising you on whether they think you could have a case worth fighting. Many firms such as The Medical Negligence Experts will even provide free advice before even taking your claim in order to evaluate the situation properly, enabling you to have all of the information you need before you invest in pursuing the claim.
#2. Keep records:
Since your health and wellness can change over time, it’s not uncommon for certain medical negligence victims to have fully recovered by the time that their case gets to court. If you’re lucky enough to have received the correct treatment for your health issue and have made a full recovery since the negligence occurred, you’ll need to have some form of evidence to show in court.
In newer cases, keeping a detailed diary now could be key to winning the compensation that you deserve in the future. Remember that damages are paid depending on how much you’ve lost as a result, and it’s not just financial losses - you can claim if you’ve lost out on being able to work, have experienced less quality of life, or have been affected psychologically.
#3. Understand how your claim works:
Before you can file a medical negligence lawsuit, it’s advisable to improve your understanding of how medical malpractice claims UK work. For example, it’s a wise idea to be fully educated on the three-year timeframe limit for this type of claim, and who is eligible for an extension. Bear in mind that the three years begins from when you realise that negligence has occurred, even if this is some time after your treatment. For patients who are under 18 or have limited mental capacity, exceptions can be made. If you’re unsure whether or not your claim will need to be made within three years, speak to your medical negligence solicitors who will be able to provide you with more specific and detailed advice.
#4. Weigh up the cost:
The good news is that most medical negligence solicitors work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis - meaning, you’ll only ever be required to pay them if you win compensation in court. However, it’s not just the cost of legal fees that you should be worried about when filing a case for medical negligence. In fact, it’s a wise idea to keep detailed records of how the negligence has affected you financially, particularly over the long term.
If applicable, it may be worth working out how much the negligence is likely to cost you into the future, too. This could include a loss of your job or earnings over time, costs for adapting your transport or home, prescriptions charges, travel fees to and from a healthcare provider for treatment, and any other medical charges. In court, your case is more likely to win if you have proof of how much the negligence has and will continue to cost you.
#5. Document interactions with healthcare providers:
If you suspect that your healthcare provider is being negligent about your medical care, then it’s important to document as much of your interactions with them as you can. Bear in mind that it can take some time for a lawsuit to go to trial, so it’s not uncommon for memories to fade and conversations to be forgotten. Make notes of names, positions, dates and times of treatments, and anything else important that could be used to jog your memory in the future. If you see or hear a healthcare provider do or say something that you feel may be significant to your case in the future, you should always try to document it as closely as possible.
#6. Obtain your medical records:
Everybody is entitled to access their own medical records. If you’re considering taking your healthcare provider to court after experiencing negligence, it’s important to obtain your medical records as soon as possible. Records that include a misdiagnosis, for example, or display treatment to correct issues after negligence has occurred can be a very powerful form of proof in court.
You can get your medical records informally from a healthcare provider or make a formal application to have a copy of them sent to you. In most cases you will not need to pay for the service. If you’re claiming for medical negligence in the UK that occurred a while ago, your medical records may be enough and you can request to get copies of these from each medical institution, possibly even online yourself from your GP using your online login information. American Retrieval can make the whole process easier for those in the US who need their medical records for legal or insurance purposes.
It’s not advisable to mention that you are obtaining your records in order to make a claim. Once you have obtained a copy of your medical records, it’s a good idea to hand them to your medical negligence lawyer who can then use them as evidence in your favour.
#7. Change your healthcare provider:
Last but not least, in some cases you may want to consider changing your healthcare provider if you feel the previous one was negligent with your care. Nobody wants to go back to a doctor or other healthcare professional that they’re currently suing for malpractice! Getting registered with a new healthcare professional can help you to feel less stressed for the duration of your case. If you have been significantly affected by medical negligence, you may need to find a doctor or healthcare provider for continued, long-term care and treatment.
Whilst it may be difficult to trust a healthcare professional fully again, bear in mind that most doctors, nurses and health workers are dedicated to providing the best possible standard of care for their patients. You should also consider finding a second doctor or specialist who you can turn to as an expert witness in court. They will be able to examine you and determine how badly you have been affected by a negligent health professional in the past.
Going through medical negligence as a patient is never a nice experience. Knowing what to do if you become a victim of medical malpractice will help you get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.