What is Clinical Negligence?

 If a health professional is negligent when giving you medical treatment this is called ‘clinical or medical negligence’.

When you have been let down by the medical profession, you may not know whether you have a clinical negligence claim.  We will compassionately listen and advise you, free of charge, whether we think you have a viable claim that is worth pursuing.

For a claim to be successful, firstly there must have been a breach of duty or “fault” in laymen’s terms.  You will appreciate that there are inherent risks in virtually any kind of treatment, and that even the best performed procedure can sometimes result in an adverse outcome. The fact that you are damaged or injured is not in itself evidence of any breach of duty.

Establishing Breach Of Duty

In order to prove breach of duty, we need to establish that a doctor followed a clinical practice that is not supported by any responsible body of medical opinion, or, if it is so supported, that clinical practice does not stand up to analysis and was unreasonable in the light of medical knowledge at the time.

In practice, it will be difficult to prove negligence under the first limb if the defendant doctor can produce a reasonably qualified doctor to support the treatment that was given, or can refer to a leading textbook, and the doctor is likely to be able to successfully defend the claim.  The vital point to appreciate is that it is not sufficient merely for us to be able to show that many other doctors would have behaved in a different manner and even minority medical opinion can be used to justify the conduct of a practitioner as being non-negligent.

If we cannot establish breach of duty under the first limb of the test, we may be able to establish it under the second limb.  Under this limb it is not enough for a defendant to call a number of doctors to say what was done or not done in accordance with accepted clinical practice.  It is necessary for the Judge to consider the evidence and decide whether the clinical practice puts the patient unnecessarily at risk.

What Are My Chances Of Success With A Clinical Negligence Claim?

It is well known that medical negligence cases are difficult.  The first hurdle we must overcome is finding a suitably qualified expert who is prepared to stand up in court and say that another doctor was in breach of duty.

The second prerequisite of a successful claim is that the breach of duty must have caused the damage, rather than some other cause.  It is for you to prove causation of loss on a balance of probabilities which is frequently difficult because of the uncertainties of medical science.  It is rare for there to be no issue on causation in medical negligence cases even where the issue of “fault” is straightforward.

Even if we can satisfy the first hurdle, breach of duty in the act or omissions of the doctor, we shall still need to prove that either some of your injuries or some unnecessary pain and suffering you have suffered, were caused by the act or omissions of the doctor.  It is possible that although you did not receive the correct treatment, this would not have made any difference to either your injuries or the pain and suffering you have suffered. Almost all clinical negligence claimants will obviously come to their clinician with major risks to their health already in place. Establishing whether, and precisely what, additional loss and damage has been caused because of medical negligence is challenging.

How We Can Help You

If you believe you have suffered clinical negligence, please contact David or Alicia on freephone 0800 011 6666 or via email at legal@timms-law.com for a free informal chat.

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