Thousands suffer from the fault of healthcare personnel each year. In 2012 to 2013 alone, it is estimated that 16,000 people lodged complaints against negligent healthcare practitioners. There are, however, thousands of patients who fail to file claims and get compensated because they are not aware of their rights. Knowing your rights is essential in getting compensation you are rightfully entitled to. The following are the essential things you should know about clinical negligence:
Elements of Clinical Negligence
Hospital negligence in UK is primarily based on jurisprudence. Elements of clinical negligence have therefore been culled from landmark decisions of the House of Lords, such as Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee. There is clinical negligence when the following elements concur:
- Duty of care of a healthcare professional to the patient
- Negligent act or omission by the healthcare professional
- Harm or injury suffered as a result of negligent treatment
But what is the basis for saying that the act or omission by the healthcare professional is negligent? Generally, he must have done something considered to be unacceptable and unreasonable by his peers in the industry. However, there are instances where healthcare professionals are still considered negligent even if they performed an act in accordance with a current practice, provided that such practice is proven to be unreasonable.
What Must be Proven
The court will award favourable compensation to victims who are able to prove the following:
- Causation–The victim must be able to present evidence to establish the harm caused by the negligence of the nurse, doctor or other healthcare personnel is not possible where it not for such negligent act or omission.
- Liability–The victim must submit evidence showing that the healthcare professional’s act, or failure to act, is not acceptable in the profession.
When to File a Claim
Clinical negligence claims are subject to statute of limitations. Generally, claims must be filed within 3 years from knowledge of the harm resulting from negligence, unless in the following cases:
- If the claimant was below 18 when the injury happened, the 3-year period will be counted from his 18th birthday.
- If the victim was mentally ill when the injury happened, limitation will start upon his recovery.
- The court may decide to hear the case even if it was filed beyond the allowed period. This only applicable to cases considered to be exceptional.