It is important to note that when mistakes in health care arise, they generally have little or no effect on the patient whatsoever. Indeed, even though avenues of increased communication and disclosure between Doctor and patient have been forged in recent years, mot patients won’t even be aware that a mistake has occurred. The other side of the coin can equate to deliberate harm and these thankfully rare occurrences have been well documented in a series of high profile cases.
The ground in between these two opposing ends of a complicated spectrum arises from incidents where Doctors looking after a patient essentially failed to do their very best. From the perspective of a Doctor, the reasons behind mistakes can be easily explained. Anyone can make a mistake particularly when working under pressure. Although gross negligence is totally indefensible, it is also worth remembering that medical ailments don’t always follow the textbook example.
Sometimes, a Doctor may not have sufficient background information regarding the patient or may have simply overlooked something trivial. And like the rest of us, Doctors may have underlying personal difficulties that slip into their professional capacities. We’re all only human, after all.
The difference with a Doctor is that the results can have far more serious repercussions than a man who fails to wash a car properly or a baker that burns his bread. When things do go wrong in the medical word, patients and their families will find it hard to accept that human error is a fact of life. When you place yourself at the mercy of the medical world, you tend to have an expectation for only the highest standards.
When things do go wrong, it is necessary to ask what you wish to achieve by pursuing the matter. In most cases, mistakes are small enough to be mended by a genuine apology or a reasonable explanation.
From the medical perspective, there is a tendency for defensiveness and a group siege mentality, particularly if the patient and his family are considering a claim for compensation.
Medical cases are notoriously long affairs that are frequently difficult to win with vast expenditure. Not only do you have to prove that the Doctor was negligent, but there has to be evidence that harm was caused as a result of a Doctors actions.
Courts tend to lean towards the protection of the heath care service and winning a claim will always be difficult.
There will always be cases, however, where a court will look more closely at things especially in the event of a death that may have led to a child losing a parent or the patient needing continual and expensive medical treatment.
If you suspect medical negligence, talk it through with the Doctor first. If you’re still unhappy, follow the relevant chain of command as far as the complaints manager at your local health authority.
If you still feel dissatisfied, seek a full independent medical review and talk to the medical ombudsman to see if you may have sufficient ground for filing a claim for compensation.