Although healthcare professionals are generally seen to offer kind, caring and effective treatment there are rare occasions where something can go disastrously wrong. The General Medical Council insist that in such a situation, the treating doctor has an obligation to provide details of what happened during treatment or in the immediate aftermath.
If injury or death results from a breach of duty during any form of medical treatment, including dentistry, the aggrieved or their immediate families may be entitled to claim compensation for clinical negligence or malpractice.
In a modern environment that sees lawsuits fly backwards and forwards like paper aeroplanes, it is often easy to forget that injury from medical treatment may simply be sustained from the seriousness of the original ailment or the risks involved in the treatment itself.
If an apology or effective explanation fails to provide satisfaction, the next step would see a solicitor filing a complaint on your behalf, ideally one that specialises in medical law. The Law Society has over 250 firms of solicitors on their clinical negligence panel.
Any subsequent claim for malpractice can be paid for privately, or legal aid can be sought to cover the bulk of what is an essentially expensive legal process where firms of solicitors can charge upwards of $350 for a single hour of work.
In some cases, solicitors who feel you have a particularly strong case will offer to represent on a ‘No Win – No Fee’ basis. In such a situation the solicitor carries the risk so that if you lose your case, you pay no fee to the solicitor although in some cases you will still have to cover barrister fees and expenses.
Once the case is taken on, the solicitor will file your grievance with the person who provided you with the treatment being named as the defendant. The solicitor will act within the confines of civil medical law, and there are a wide range of somewhat complicated potential outcomes to consider.
In some cases, mediation will be used in a small claim whereby an apology or relatively short sum of compensation can be agreed. If the case is more serious, it will pass through the appropriate channels and go to court. Both the defendant and the claimant will have to give evidence and the procedure can often take days or weeks to complete, especially is the case is relatively complicated.
Even judgement can take up to three months, and statistics show that the claimant will win in around half of all cases that get to this stage.
In the event of winning the case, a varied range of damages will be awarded from one or several different classifications. If you lose your case, your solicitor may have to decide whether an appeal is worthwhile or not.