A clinical negligence claim is simply a claim for compensation, otherwise known as damages, for injuries suffered as a result of substandard care given to a patient. 

It is important to understand that the word clinical (in the context of clinical negligence) doesn’t just cover medical treatment given by a GP or by doctors in hospital; it extends to nursing, dental, chiropractic, cosmetic and other forms of “medical” treatment.  

The word negligence has a precise legal definition. It’s a little complex but, put most simply, there are three elements needed to establish negligence.  These are: 

  1. A duty of care must be owed by the professional to the patient.  In most clinical negligence cases this is straightforward.  If a patient is admitted to hospital for treatment, for example, all the professionals involved owe that patient a duty of care.  According to the law, the ‘duty’ is to exercise their professional skills to a reasonable standard.
  1. Next, the patient has to show that the medical professionals breached their duty of care (unsurprisingly known as breach of the duty). We prove this by showing that the standard of care fell below a reasonable standard.  Reasonableness is judged according to acceptable professional practice of the time.  
  1. If we can establish breach of the duty of care, we next have to prove causation.   This simply means we must show the substandard care caused, or contributed to, the injury.  The test for causation is whether the breach made a difference on the balance of probabilities.  In other words, was it likely (greater 50%) that the breach had an effect?

If all three are proved we can establish liability, that is legal responsibility for the injury, and thereby claim compensation. 

To prove claims we require the help of evidence provided by medical experts.

Evidence is provided by expert witnesses who give an informed, professional opinion on the standard of treatment given to a patient and whether the failings in care affected the course of treatment and the outcome. In some cases, the failings in treatment will have made little or no difference, in others they will be critical.  

It is the persuasiveness of this evidence which determines if a claim can be successfully pursued. 

To find out more about bringing a claim for clinical negligence, or for a free initial consultation, call us today on 01271-533747 or message us on 07498 226643 and we will get back to you as soon as possible.