Healthcare is one of the most highly valued provisions in the UK; the NHS is a national institution to which millions owe a debt of gratitude, as healthcare free at the point of use ensures everyone has equitable access to the healthcare they may eventually need. Polls have shown that 88% of people feel the NHS is essential and should continue to be taxpayer-funded.
Unfortunately, though, not everyone is treated effectively when it comes to healthcare. While the NHS remains a crucially important provision, a decade of healthcare crises, insufficient funding and administrative inefficiency has left room for negligent care.
The phenomenon is not limited to the NHS, as private healthcare facilities are also capable of negligent care – but owing to the size of the NHS, negligence in NHS facilities is much more widely reported. According to recent figures, negligence claims have cost the NHS over £2.2 billion in 2021 alone. But what is medical negligence?
What is Medical Negligence
In short, medical negligence is what happens when a healthcare professional fails in their duty of care to a given patient. This can happen in a number of ways, with a number of effects depending on the nature of the negligence in question.
There are four particularly common ways in which medical negligence can present itself: misdiagnosis, surgical negligence, maternity care and mis-prescription. If you believe yourself to have been a victim of negligence in any form, you may be eligible for compensation through a medical negligence claim. Civil action can ensure you are compensated for the difficulties you have faced, while holding institutions and individuals responsible – with the knock-on impact of improving care for future patients.
Misdiagnosis occurs when a GP fails to correctly identify a condition or illness during a consultation. They may miss the symptoms entirely, failing to diagnose you with anything; alternatively, they may misinterpret your symptoms, and arrive at a false conclusion.
In case of the former, your condition could develop and worsen without treatment. If the latter occurs, you may find yourself a victim of misprescription – more on which later.
Surgical negligence occurs when a surgeon or surgical assistant makes a mistake during an operation or surgical intervention. This could be the accidental injury of another body part or organ, the accidental leaving of a foreign body in the surgical wound, or the improper observation of surgical hygiene resulting in infection.
Improper Medical Advice
Improper medical advice is a broad-ranging field, that includes GP consultations and recovery advice from surgical staff. You may be advised to begin physical activity too soon after a surgery, or you may be given incorrect advice about prescription side-effects and their severity.
Misprescription occurs when a GP prescribes the wrong medicine, or an improper dosage of a medicine. Too low a dosage of the right medicine may not treat your condition, while a high dosage could cause serious damage. Overprescription has also been a recent point of concern for independent bodies, where conflicting prescriptions can negatively impact one another.
Know When to Hire a Medical Negligence Lawyer
We have talked about the importance of using medical negligence lawyers in the United States. They can be just as helpful in the UK. You just need to know how to use them.