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Clinical Negligence

Clinical Negligence

About Thompsons' Clinical Negligence Unit

The clinical negligence team at Thompsons forms part of the most experienced personal injury firm in the UK.

The team at Thompsons includes clinical negligence solicitors who are members of the Law Society’s Clinical Negligence Accreditation Scheme, Headway, specialist group APIL, The Spinal Injuries Association and the AvMA referral panel.

Medical Accidents
  Introduction to Medical Negligence and Clinical Negligence
Before you take Legal action regarding Medical Negligence
  The first steps to take after suffering clinical negligence
Taking Legal action for clinical negligence
  Advice on how to begin legal action
Types of Clinical Negligence cases
  Information about different types of clinical negligence claims we can deal with
Time Limits for bringing a Court Action
  How long you have to make a clinical negligence claim
Clinical Negligence and the Law
  A guide to the Law and Medical negligence
Pursuing a Claim for Compensation - The Procedure
  A brief outline of how a clinical negligence claim is made
Learn more about Thompsons' Specialist Clinical Negligence Team
  Information about some of the members of the Clinical Negligence Team
Clinical Negligence Cases we have fought and won
  Details of some medical negligence claims we have dealt with
Comments from our clients
  Extracts of letters from clients who have used our clinical negligence expertise
News on Clinical Negligence Issues
  Recent News Stories published about Clinical Negligence
Clinical Negligence Articles and Clinical Negligence Factsheets
  Articles about developments in the Healthcare Field
Clinical Negligence Contacts
  Lists organisations and specialists who can help you

Medical Accidents

Introduction to medical negligence and clinical negligence

Most medical and nursing treatment in the UK is of a high technical standard and most heath service staff are dedicated professionals working to tight deadlines and budgets to deliver care. Nevertheless not everything goes well and mistakes happen.

Not all the unexpected or disappointing outcomes to treatment are the fault of the healthcare professionals. All treatment carries some risk and patients are warned of serious risks. Still, English law awards compensation for things going wrong if it can be proved that the treatment was negligent – meaning the standard of care fell below the standard generally accepted to be reasonable for that area of medicine.

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Before you take legal action

The first steps to take after suffering clinical negligence

You must seek advice quickly because there are strict time limits for making complaints.

When you talk to one of our specialist personal injury lawyers we will advise that before starting legal action against a medical practitioner that you talk to them first. There may be a genuine misunderstanding, or a problem in communication, that can often be resolved at this stage.

If this fails, we will advise you to make a more formal complaint. To complain about a GP you must write to the Practice Manager and to complain about a hospital you must write to the Complaints Manager. Making a complaint is useful if your concerns are about procedures or behaviour that you want put right, or you want an apology for the way you have been treated.

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Taking legal action for clinical negligence

Advice on how to begin legal action

If you have been injured as a result of negligent medical treatment you may have a right to compensation. You will have to obtain a lawyer to act for you because clinical negligence cases are always fiercely defended.

Clinical negligence is a highly specialist area so it is important that your solicitor has specific experience in this field. The clinical practitioner or authority will be defended by experts and you must have equal specialist advice.  We offer this specialist clinical negligence advice and experience.

Compensation is payable in many circumstances, the following stories are just some examples:

Undiagnosed Fracture

We helped a delivery driver who fell from the back of a lorry and sustained a serious injury to his wrist. The hospital said it was a sprain but in fact there was a fracture and by the time the fracture was diagnosed it was too late to operate effectively (clinical negligence). The driver was paid compensation for the loss of full use of his hand.  Although the compensation helped, his life was never the same again as before the accident.

Cerebral Palsy

Thompsons fought the case of Holly Thornton who was starved of oxygen during delivery causing cerebral palsy. The hospital denied liability throughout but following a settlement conference shortly before trial, settled the claim. The clinical negligence award was split between a lump sum released immediately to fund the purchase of a specially adapted bungalow and the balance to be invested to produce an annual periodical payment commencing on Holly’s 18th birthday for care, special therapies and special needs equipment.

Surgical Error

When a man of 75 had cataract surgery, the needle used for local anaesthetic pierced his eyeball and he lost the sight in that eye.  Another surgery was carried out to try and repair the damage but this was not successful.  To help with the terrible change to his life, Thompsons helped him to settle his clinical negligence claim.

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Types of Clinical Negligence cases

Information about different types of clinical negligence claims we can deal with

Below, you will find a list of the most common types of clinical negligence together with information about how to begin a personal injury compensation claim. If you cannot find the information you require here, telephone us on 08000 224 224 for assistance or complete one of our online personal injury compensation claim forms.

Birth Injuries
Misdiagnosis
Surgical Errors
Medical Establishments
General Clinical Negligence Issues

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Time limits for bringing a court action

How long you have to make a clinical negligence claim

Legal action must be taken within three years of the date you first knew, or could reasonably have been expected to know, that you have suffered an injury caused through someone else's fault.

In special cases, the court has discretion to allow cases to go ahead out of time.  For injury to children, proceedings have to be started before the 21st birthday.  Time does not run out while a person is mentally incapable.

You should visit a specialist clinical negligence solicitor as soon as possible since there is a vast amount of work to be done before bringing a clinical negligence case.

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Clinical negligence and the law

A guide to the Law

There are a number of elements to establishing that medical treatment was negligent.   The patient has to prove (on "the balance of probabilities") that the clinical practitioner has been negligent.  This means showing that the standard of care fell below what could "reasonably have been expected'. Medical opinion often differs over treatment for a particular ailment and it is a valid defence if it can be shown that the treatment was in accordance with the views of "a responsible body of medical opinion".

Even if you can show that the standard of care was negligent, you still have to prove that the negligence actually caused the injury. This is often the trickiest part of the case. The medical practitioner may claim that the injury arose from the illness itself and not from the treatment; or that the injury would have come about in any event. Detailed medical evidence will be called with specialists arguing for each side.

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Pursuing a claim - the procedure

A brief outline of how a clinical negligence claim is made

Clinical negligence claims, in a similar way to personal injury claims, are made up of a series of hurdles. If you don't clear one hurdle, you don't move onto the next.

We have to get your medical records and check them.

Specialist medical experts will then be instructed to consider whether or not the treatment was negligent, and if it was, what damage it did.

If we consider that we have enough evidence to prove the case for clinical negligence, then we advise starting court proceedings immediately. 

Clinical negligence cases can be settled by negotiation without the need to proceed to a full trial but they are rarely resolved without starting court action.

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Learn more about Thompsons' Specialist Clinical Negligence Team

Information about some of the members of the Clinical Negligence Team

We thought it was important to dedicate a page of the website to provide you with information about some of the members of our specialist clinical negligence team.

Follow the link below to find out about the qualifications and experience the members of our clinical negligence team have.

Specialist Clinical Negligence Solicitors / Lawyers.

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Clinical Negligence Cases we have fought and won

Details of some medical negligence claims we have dealt with

Visit our Clinical Negligence Clients page to read about some of the clinical negligence cases we have dealt with in the past.

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Comments from our clients

Extracts of letters from clients who have used our clinical negligence expertise

At Thompsons Solicitors, the clinical negligence team frequently receive letters of thanks from clients we have helped to recover compensation after suffering clinical negligence.

A selection of extracts from these letters can be viewed on our Medical Negligence Claims Letters of Thanks page.

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News on Clinical Negligence Issues

Recent News Stories published about Clinical Negligence

Over the years, Thompsons have helped many people who have suffered as a result of clinical negligence or medical negligence.  We have also campaigned with the help of UNISON, to make Herceptin available to sufferers of Breast Cancer who would benefit from it.

We have published important stories within the News Desk section of our website and links to a selection of these can be found on our Clinical Negligence News page.

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Clinical Negligence Articles and Clinical Negligence Factsheets

Articles about developments in the Healthcare Field

You can keep up to date with the latest in healthcare and clinical negligence developments by reading clinical negligence articles and clinical negligence factsheets written by our specialist clinical negligence solicitors / lawyers.

To read the current articles and factsheets published to date visit our Clinical Negligence Articles and Clinical Negligence Factsheets page.

To view earlier articles please go to the clinical negligence articles archive page.

We have also published a brochure about Clinical Negligence. To read this, visit Clinical Negligence Brochure or download the PDF (1016KB).

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Clinical Negligence Contacts

Lists organisations and specialists who can help you.

red bullet indicating list itemThe General Medical Council (GMC) hears complaints about serious professional misconduct by a GP or hospital doctor. The address of the GMC is: 178 Great Portland Street, London W1N 6JE. Tel: 020 7580 7642.

red bullet indicating list itemThe Health Service Ombudsman investigates, reports and makes recommendations to the government about the activities of health authorities. The Ombudsman will not investigate any complaints until the NHS complaints procedures have been exhausted except where that is unreasonable.

To contact the Ombudsman, you should write to:
grey bullet marking index itemEngland The Health Service Commissioner for England, 11th Floor, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP. Tel: 020 7217 4051
grey bullet marking index itemNorthern Ireland Parliamentary Ombudsman and Commissioner for Complaints, 33 Wellington Place, Belfast BT1 6HN. Tel: 028 9023 3821
grey bullet marking index itemScotland The Health Service Commissioner for Scotland, 28 Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1EN. Tel: 0131 2257 465
grey bullet marking index itemWales The Health Service Commissioner for Wales, 5th Floor, Capital Tower, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff CF10 3AG. Tel: 029 2023 0785

red bullet indicating list itemThe Patient's Association is a campaigning body which is a useful source of advice and assistance for individuals who are not happy with their treatment by the NHS. Their address is: 18 Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PF. Helpline: 0845 608 4455

red bullet indicating list itemAction for Victims of Medical Accidents (AVMA) advises those who have been injured as a result of clinical treatment. Their address is: 44 High Street, Croydon, Surrey CR0 1XB. Tel: 020 8291 2793.

red bullet indicating list itemNational Institute for Health and Clinical Negligence is an independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.

red bullet indicating list itemThe General Dental Council is an organisation which regulates the dental profession in the UK.

red bullet indicating list itemThe Nursing and Midwifery Council (UKCC) is an organisation set up by Parliament to protect the public by ensuring that nurses and midwives provide high standards of care to their patients and clients.

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