Medical negligence: the most common types of claims in the UK
If you are suffering from injury or illness, where do you turn for care and treatment? You could book an appointment with your GP. Or you might need to go to your local hospital. Either way, you would expect to receive a high standard of care. And, in most cases, you absolutely will. There is, however, the outside chance that something goes wrong. If it does, the impact can be long-term and life-changing – and is better known as medical or clinical negligence.
What does ‘medical negligence’ actually mean?
The term “medical negligence” can cover a range of different incidents while under the care of a medical professional. In short, it can be anything that directly causes you an injury or illness – separate to the one you initially needed treatment for. It can also include anything that makes an existing illness or injury worse. And either of these can have a serious impact on your life.
The various types of medical negligence claims
Such claims can come in various forms – and the impact of each type of claim can vary from case to case. In financial terms, obstetrics claims are worth about half of the total estimated value when it comes to claims against NHS England. But these cases, which typically involve pregnancy and childbirth incidents, only make up 9% of all claims received.
But the sheer variety of claims is why ‘Other’ accounts for the highest share of claims made (34%). The next two types are emergency or orthopaedic surgery (both 12%). And the root cause can be any variety of things. It can be poor care in the first instance. But it could also include wrong or delayed diagnosis – or the provision of the wrong medication.
How common is medical negligence in the UK?
It is rare – but things can, and do, go wrong. If you (or a loved one) fail to receive the level of care you would expect, it can cause a huge deal of distress and anguish. This is especially the case if you suffer a major loss or injury. But it’s important to know that there are specialist medical negligence solicitors who can help you make a claim for compensation if the worst happens.
And such legal experts will have plenty of experience in dealing with such tough situations for you and your family. In England alone, the NHS paid out nearly £2.4bn in medical negligence claims in 2019-20. That period also saw a 9.35% increase in the number of claims, with NHS Resolution data showing a total of 11,682 claims and incidents during the 12-month window.
Physical and emotional distress
One thing that is common to all medical negligence claims is the real physical and emotional distress it can cause. No one imagines going into hospital and coming out feeling worse – especially if it’s down to something that could have easily been avoided. In such cases, it can be helpful to know there are people there to help you at what can be a challenging time.
Medical negligence claims are about more than the money!
Money can never compensate for any pain and suffering caused by medical negligence, especially in the more extreme cases. However, making a medical negligence claim is about more than the money; holding the appropriate individual or body accountable is ultimately the only way changes to substandard practices will be made. So, if your claim might be against the NHS, for example, and that makes you somewhat reluctant to proceed, do consider that by taking a stand you could be protecting other people from going through the same traumas as you and/or your loved ones.
Some endemic practices in the NHS have caused suffering to thousands of people over many years. For example, it is estimated that from the late 1990s, 15,000 women a year underwent surgery which inserted vaginal mesh implants for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. As you will see from Kelly Swain’s story, she has been told by consultants that, as a result of this type of operation, she may never be completely cured of chronic pain. Clearly, this type of medical negligence must be addressed at the earliest opportunity and sometimes the only way this happens is by an individual taking action. (Do read this inspiring story because although Kelly has been through so much pain and suffering, to the extent she almost killed herself with a concoction of alcohol and pain killers, she has totally turned her life around.)