What Is Needed To Prove Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider, such as a surgeon, neglects to take proper care while handling your medical needs.

You may be entitled to make a claim for compensation for medical negligence if you have undergone a medical procedure and you feel that the medical professional failed in their duty of care, or you received an injury as a result of medical treatment.

Proving medical negligence can be tricky. There are a few grounds on which medical negligence may be found. It will need to be proved that at least one of these occurred and that the claimant is worse off as a result of the actions of the medical practitioner. Here’s what is needed to prove medical negligence.

Standard of care was unacceptable

In cases where the claimant asserts that they received an unacceptable standard of care, the individual’s treatment will need to be assessed by other professionals in the same field who can determine whether or not an acceptable standard of care was taken.

Duty of care was lacking

Medical practitioners owe a duty of care to their patients. This means that they have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of whoever they are treating. This duty also extends to the provision of medical advice. If the treating practitioner is negligent in the care of a patient, that patient may be able to bring a claim for compensation.

There was a genuine risk of foreseeable harm

In some cases, it can be proved that the harm caused to the claimant arose from circumstances where there was a genuine risk of foreseeable harm. This means that there is a clear link between the patient’s outcome and the actions of the medical practitioner. In this instance, the claimant would need to be able to prove that, had the treatment or advice not been given by the professional, the claimant would not have received their injury.

Inconsistencies occurred

When a healthcare provider is accused of medical negligence it is likely that they will try to defend themselves by aiming to prove how they provided an acceptable standard of care. To prove that medical negligence occurred, the claimant must be able to substantiate that their actions were typical, this may be done by providing evidence that routine practices were not undertaken, or treatments were not offered, for example.

The need for damages has arisen

It is unlikely that a claim will be successful if the injury has not given rise to time off work, other loss of earnings or ongoing medical care. Claimants should be certain that they are entitled to compensation before commencing a claim.

What compensation is awarded in medical negligence claims?

Expenses that may be compensated through a medical negligence claim include:

  • lost wages for time off work, or for business owners, lost earnings where someone else has had to be paid to cover the workload;
  • medical appointments, including further surgeries and rehabilitation;
  • travel to and from appointments;
  • at-home assistance, such as carers, cleaners; and/or
  • a lump sum payment to compensate for any pain and suffering in cases where the individual’s quality of life has been impaired.

What challenges exist for proving medical negligence?

One of the biggest barriers to proving medical negligence can be a lack of knowledge of the medical field and therefore a difficulty in ascertaining what the acceptable standard of care is.

Lines are often blurred when a patient does not receive the outcome they were expecting from surgery or treatment, which can leave them feeling that their care was not handled appropriately or adequately.

The best course of action to take if you feel that you are the victim of medical negligence is to speak with a personal injury lawyer who can assess your case and help you understand what pursuing a claim would mean and the next best steps.

Do time limits apply to medical negligence claims?

Yes. Court proceedings must have commenced within three years from the date the negligence occurred. In some cases, this deadline may be extended, but it is wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible after you believe you have been the victim of medical negligence to ensure there are no delays.

Our personal injury lawyers can assist you with your medical negligence claim by advising you on your position and helping you decide the best course of action. Act as soon as possible to ensure that important deadlines are not missed.

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