Most people who visit the hospital for an illness or medical emergency have a positive experience and receive good care. The vast majority of doctors, nurses and hospital staff are skilful, knowledgeable and competent and treat each patient with consideration and concern.
Whether you visit an NHS hospital or a private practice, you have the right to a high standard of medical care and treatment. Unfortunately, not every hospital visit goes as planned, and each year the NHS receives more than 10,000 claims for hospital negligence.
Wrong or misdiagnosis, failure to refer patients for the proper tests or specialist investigation, incorrect medication and other types of negligence can have life-changing consequences. Besides physical pain and suffering, negligent care will likely affect your work, family, finances and social life.
A hospital negligence claim can help you or a loved one with the support and treatment you might need to recover and return to your daily life. It can also cover the financial impacts of negligent care and any psychological damages or long-term effects on your health.
If you feel you may have a valid hospital claim, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details to receive a call back. Some of the best hospital negligence solicitors are ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Can I make a hospital negligence claim?
The easiest way to find out if you are eligible to make a claim is to contact a medical negligence solicitor. They can let you know if you might receive compensation for hospital negligence based on the circumstances and consequences of your injury.
As a general rule, a claim should be possible if:
- You suffered or became aware of the consequences of hospital negligence in the last three years
- A hospital or healthcare provider breached their duty of care toward you by acting negligently
Your legal adviser will look in detail into your medical records and other available evidence to establish:
Breach of duty
Every doctor and medical staff must behave in a way that does not endanger the health and well-being of patients. If you received substandard care, your solicitor might work with a medicolegal expert to establish a breach of duty. This means your healthcare provider acted in a way they should not have, causing you unnecessary pain and suffering.
However, not every mistake a hospital employee might make is seen as negligence. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) offers extensive guidelines to be used as objective standards of care. Breaching these guidelines will most likely be seen as medical negligence if it results in an injury or illness to a patient.
To have a valid and successful hospital negligence claim, you must show that the actions of a healthcare provider directly caused you to suffer an avoidable injury. Moreover, you might have to show that your harm was reasonably predictable.
You will need relevant medical proof of any injuries you suffered due to hospital negligence. Your solicitor might arrange an independent assessment with a government-approved medical professional who will determine the type of harm you suffered, any long-term effects and your recovery prospects. You also need evidence of any financial or psychological damage you incurred and want to claim compensation for.
What is hospital negligence?
The purpose of both NHS and private hospitals is to improve the health and well-being of citizens by providing a high standard of care and treatment. Any form of substandard care that directly causes harm to a patient and takes place within a hospital is classified as hospital negligence.
Negligence could take place during a visit to the A&E department, scheduled treatment or specialist appointments and includes any incorrect or delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, poor treatment, medication errors and surgery mistakes.
The most common causes of medical mistakes and negligence at the hospital include:
- Fatigue and overwork of healthcare professionals
- Lack of proper training or experience
- Miscommunication among doctors, nurses and other staff members
- Lacking an adequate number of staff members to handle the volume of patients
- Inadequate information flow between different service areas
- Poor labelling of specimens
- Not knowing what signs and symptoms to look for
- Inappropriate patient assessment or identification
- Working under the influence of drugs or alcohol
When negligence occurs, you have the right to make a hospital claim. However, proving negligence can be a very complicated and complex process, so it is essential to get expert legal advice if you want to claim compensation.
All claims against the NHS are settled by NHS Resolution, an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and Social Care that is directly funded by the health service.
On the other hand, medical professionals working in the private healthcare sector are classed as contractors rather than employees. According to the General Medical Council guidelines, they must take out their own liability insurance to cover personal injury claims made against them.
If you want to claim compensation for hospital negligence, get a free consultation with one of the best hospital negligence solicitors by calling 0800 678 1410. Alternatively, please enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
How do I claim compensation for hospital negligence?
If you believe you received negligent hospital treatment that had a negative impact on your health, you should contact a hospital negligence solicitor. They can let you know if you have a valid case and help you prepare everything you need to make a successful claim.
After you provide as much detailed information as possible about your circumstances, your solicitor will handle all the paperwork and investigate your case to prove negligence. To support your claim, you will need relevant evidence such as:
- Medical records stating your diagnosis and the medication, treatments and other interventions you received
- Photographs showing any visible physical damage
- Witness statements from friends or family members
- Any correspondence you had with your doctor
- An independent medical examination with a government-approved professional
- A psychological assessment, when appropriate
- Evidence of any financial losses you incurred
After gathering all the relevant evidence, your solicitor will send a claim notification form to the defendant, informing them of your allegations of negligence. They will have up to four months to investigate your claim and send you a letter of response.
If the other side admits liability, you can start negotiating a compensation settlement. According to the guidelines published by the Judicial College, you could receive:
- £60,000 to £100,000 for severe injuries to internal organs
- £1,000 to £200,000 for pain and suffering, depending on the severity
- £225,960 to £281,520 for wrongful amputations
- £5,500 to £17,900 for mild psychiatric damage
- Up to £88,270 for post-traumatic stress disorder with permanent effects
- £12,000 to £300,000 for wrongful death
- £36,060 to £49,270 for severe reactions due to medication errors
- £224,800 to £322,060 for severe brain damage caused by negligence
- £8,400 to £119,650 for wrong medical treatment causing an epileptic fit
- £39,300 to £322,060 for hospital negligence causing temporary or permanent paralysis
- £2,000 to £91,000 for minor to severe scarring injuries
If the defendant denies liability, your hospital negligence solicitor will have to issue court proceedings. Negotiations usually carry on until the trial date and almost always settle out of court.
However, there is a slight possibility you might have to argue your claim before a judge, especially if your case is particularly complex or has a high value. This should not worry you, as your solicitor will provide clear instructions and offer you support and advice at every step.
To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation or request a call back.
What are the main types of hospital negligence?
You might be entitled to make a hospital negligence claim if you suffered an injury and have evidence to prove that:
- A hospital or a hospital employee did something they should not have done or failed to do something they should have done.
- Your injuries were directly caused by their negligent behaviour.
- You suffered damages that could be compensated with the help of hospital negligence solicitors.
The main types of hospital negligence you might claim for include, but are not limited to:
- Hospital-acquired infections are unfortunately commonplace and can cause severe complications. Ignoring strict hygiene practices, delays in diagnosing and treating an infection, poor wound care and inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to potentially deadly infections with C. difficile or MRSA.
- A&E negligence – many cases of hospital negligence occur in the A&E departments, where the high volume of patients and pressure may cause the doctors, nurses and other staff to overlook some conditions that do not seem critical. Common errors in the A&E department include failure to diagnose fractures, infections, blood clots and haemorrhages or spine and brain injuries, which may result in severe permanent damage.
- Errors during surgery – common surgical mistakes include unnecessary surgery, wrong site surgical intervention, correct surgery performed on the wrong patient, surgical delays and retained foreign objects. The consequences of surgical errors can sometimes be permanent and catastrophic.
- Medication errors – prescribing the wrong medicine or the wrong dose can lead to severe and potentially fatal side effects.
- Needlestick injuries are risky because they might expose the victim to dangerous blood-borne viruses like HIV, tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other pathogens. A needlestick injury could also have a substantial emotional and psychological impact on the victim and might entitle you to make a hospital negligence claim.
- Anaesthetic complications – include damage to the nerves or spinal cord during administration, anaesthetic awareness and anaesthesia overdose, with severe side effects such as mental and physical impairment, brain injuries and even death.
- Delayed or misdiagnosis – without proper diagnosis and treatment, many conditions such as cancer, cauda equina syndrome, meningitis, stroke or diabetes can result in avoidable complications and a worse recovery prognosis.
- Birth injuries – any avoidable harm to the baby or mother during labour and delivery is considered a birth injury. Mishandling, misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment or medication administered to the mother can cause severe and permanent injuries such as fractures, cerebral palsy, and brain and spinal cord damage.
- Wrongful amputations – surgical errors, delayed diagnosis and incorrect treatment of diabetes, misdiagnosed or mistreated infections or cancer misdiagnosis can lead to avoidable amputations, especially of the lower limbs, with devastating physical and psychological consequences.
- Negligent care by staff may cause pressure sores, dehydration, malnutrition and other illnesses. Severe bedsores can cause skin necrosis, damage the underlying structures like tendons, joints and bones and even cause sepsis and cancer if the wounds are not treated properly.
- Failure to monitor a patient’s condition – healthcare professionals should regularly monitor and assess a patient’s condition, assess any changes and act promptly and precisely to any worrying signs and symptoms. Failing to do so could have serious long-term consequences for the patient.
- Orthopaedic claims include misdiagnosed fractures, failure to carry out or interpret x-rays, incorrect treatment of fractures or inappropriate surgery. Orthopaedic mistakes can result in chronic pain, deformity and mobility issues.
Even if the injury or illness you suffered is not on this list, as long as it was due to negligent and substandard care, you could be entitled to make a hospital claim. For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you can claim compensation for hospital negligence and answer any questions you may have.
Can I claim compensation for a hospital-acquired infection?
Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) pose a critical health risk to patients, staff and visitors in NHS and private hospitals. They incur elevated costs for healthcare providers and cause significant morbidity to those infected.
Although standards are in place to maintain environments safe and sterile, hospitals sometimes fall below this standard. In England, between 2016 and 2017, there were 653,000 acquired infections among the 13.8 million NHS patients, causing 22,800 deaths.
Some of the most common hospital-acquired infections include:
- Respiratory tract infections affect 0.5% to 1.0% of hospitalised patients and are the most common HCAI contributing to death. The most common causes are Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Hospital-acquired pneumonia is estimated to increase hospital stays by eight days.
- Surgical site infections account for up to 20% of all HCAIs and may lead to life-threatening complications. Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, Salmonella, S. aureus and Shigella, are the principal infectious organisms affecting patients after surgery.
- Sepsis is one of the most common causes of death among patients in intensive care units and is caused by inflammation and blood clotting during the body’s response to bacterial infections. The most common causes of sepsis are pneumonia, bowel perforation and urinary tract infections. It is estimated that there are at least 250,000 cases of sepsis each year in the UK.
- Clostridium difficile (CDIs) is the leading cause of hospital-associated infective diarrhoea and the most resistant to disinfection. C. difficile can be found in healthy people where it causes no symptoms, but administering antibiotics allows it to grow to unusually high levels and cause mild to severe diarrhoea. In severe cases, it can even be fatal.
- Urinary tract infections are commonly caused by E.coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Proteus mirabilis and Candida. Uncomplicated infections usually affect children, women and elderly patients who are otherwise healthy. Complicated illnesses are associated with catheters, immunosuppression and exposure to antibiotics and may spread to surrounding tissues or the bloodstream.
- Severe infections pose serious health threats, so hospitals must follow strict hygiene controls to reduce the risk of passing an illness to patients. If you or a loved one contracted a severe and avoidable infection during a hospital stay, you might be able to make a hospital negligence claim.
Some examples of negligent exposure of patients to an infection include:
- Substandard hygiene
- Inappropriate use of antibiotics
- Lack of monitoring
- Failure to scan patients for MRSA or C. difficile upon hospital admission
- Delayed diagnosis and treatment of an infection
- Inadequate treatment of an infection
- Poor wound care
How long do I have to make a hospital negligence claim?
If you believe you suffered hospital negligence, it is essential to contact a solicitor as soon as possible. Under the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit to make a hospital negligence claim is usually three years from the date of injury.
Some illnesses or injuries may not become apparent straight away, so the three-year countdown will start on the date you recognised you suffered an injury or illness due to poor hospital care. A judge may determine if your date of knowledge falls within the three-year limit for claiming and even extend it depending on:
- The chronology and severity of your symptoms
- Whether you asked for a second medical opinion
- Your circumstances
Some NHS negligence claims fall outside the three year limitation period. For example:
- You can claim on behalf of a child at any point before they turn 18 years old, regardless of when they suffered negligent treatment. Afterwards, they will have until their 21st birthday to claim compensation for hospital negligence.
- Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, there is no limitation date to claim compensation for a victim who lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings. If the victim regains their intellectual ability, they will have three years to start a hospital claim.
- If an individual suffered a brain injury or became otherwise incapacitated due to hospital negligence, the three-year countdown is suspended until after their recovery.
- You could claim compensation for an injury that happened in a medical facility abroad, but you should contact a hospital negligence solicitor as soon as possible. The claim limitation date can vary significantly between countries and may be as short as six months.
- In wrongful death cases, a close family member could make a hospital negligence claim within three years after the victim passed away. If the claimant died while pursuing a claim, you have another three years to represent them and conclude the legal proceedings.
Hospital negligence claims can be particularly complex and challenging. As a general rule, the sooner you seek legal advice, the easier it is to gather evidence and build a strong case. Preparing a claim can take a significant amount of time, and most medical negligence solicitors will not accept a case with less than six months left to the limitation date.
To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation. If you would prefer to receive a call back, you can arrange this by entering your details into our online claim form.
Can hospital negligence claims be made on behalf of someone else?
According to the Court of Protection Rules 2007, you could act as a litigation friend on behalf of a child or protected party by filling in and serving a certificate of suitability or after being appointed by the court.
If you want to act as a litigation friend for a victim of hospital negligence, you must convince the court that:
- You can justly and competently conduct legal proceedings
- You have no conflict of interest with the victim
- You consent to take on the responsibilities of a litigation friend
Your duties as litigation friend end when a child turns 18, if a protected party regains mental capacity or if the claim comes to an end. While acting as a litigation friend, your duties include:
- Attending court hearings
- Approving and signing legal documents
- Regularly consult with a hospital negligence solicitor
- Give directions to your solicitor and take legal advice
- Pay any legal charges requested by the court
- Keep updated on the legal proceedings
- Consider any compensation offers
Becoming a litigation friend can be a long-time commitment. If you are ready to assume this responsibility, you could represent:
- A child under 18, regardless if you are one of the parents, a legal guardian, family friend or close family member.
- A protected party, namely an adult who lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings for themself. An individual may lack capacity due to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe sleep deprivation
- Intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism
- A mental disorder such as schizophrenia or major depression
- A neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease
- Being in a coma
- Having suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury
- Your role as litigation friend ends if the victim regains intellectual ability.
- A loved one who has died because of hospital negligence. Hospital negligence solicitors could help you recover compensation for their pain and suffering and any financial losses caused by their passing away.
- Furthermore, if you are the spouse, civil partner or parent of a child under 18 who died due to negligent treatment, you might be able to access a statutory bereavement award of £15,120.
- Someone with a language barrier.
To find out more about how you could represent another party in a hospital claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Alternatively, enter your details to receive a call back.
Do hospital negligence solicitors offer no win no fee?
If you want to make a hospital claim, you might worry about the legal fees and high costs of expert hospital negligence solicitors. However, if you do not have an insurance policy that covers legal expenses, you can always count on a no win no fee agreement with your solicitor.
A free initial consultation with a legal adviser can help them understand your circumstances and decide if you have a valid claim for injury compensation. If you have a fair chance to win, they will offer their support and advice without asking for any upfront payments.
At the beginning of your claim, your solicitor will take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf. The ATE insurance provides coverage for all legal costs and expenses involved in litigation. Without the insurance policy, you would have to pay all the legal costs for the defendant, court fees, expert witness fees, medical reports and other expenses.
No win no fee is the preferred way of claiming compensation for hospital negligence because:
- You receive free initial advice from the best hospital negligence solicitors
- You get professional help and support without paying any upfront fees
- You will not incur any out of pocket expenses
- There are no hidden costs
- Your solicitor will do their utmost to recover the maximum amount of compensation possible
- You are taking no financial risks if your case is ultimately unsuccessful
- If you win, your solicitor will recover most legal costs from the defendant
If you make a hospital negligence claim on a no win no fee basis, you only have to pay anything if you receive compensation. Besides some basic legal fees that cannot be recovered from the defendant, you will only have to pay:
- The ATE insurance premium
- A success fee to your solicitor
The success fee compensates for the risk hospital negligence solicitors take by offering claimants a no win no fee agreement; if your case fails, they will not be paid at all. The success fee cannot exceed 25% of your compensation, and you will discuss it at the beginning of the claim, so everything is upfront and transparent.