“First, do no harm”: this famous phrase is at the heart of what it means to be a doctor. But what happens when a doctor does do harm due to medical negligence? Recent research has found that too many UK patients are keeping a stiff upper lip when it comes to injuries inflicted by medical negligence.
Medical negligence is the breach of the duty of care that doctors and specialists have for us. We place a huge amount of trust in our doctors and medical specialists, sometimes literally putting our lives in their hands, but if things go wrong, we are disturbingly reluctant to come forward.
Recent in-depth research carried out by Patient Claim Line confirmed that a worrying number of British people would rather soldier on in pain than cause a fuss by making a legal claim for injuries sustained through medical negligence. Of the 1000 UK families and 200 Medical Negligence clients surveyed, 44% reported they would put off taking legal action for fear of ‘making a fuss’.
This trend is worrying, considering the profound impact that medical negligence can have on people’s lives. The research demonstrates that 41% of people injured have a reduced earning potential as a result of injuries caused by medical negligence and a full 54% of these injuries have a potentially lifelong impact. Patient Claim’s research also finds that 61% of people who were injured by clinical negligence suffer constant pain.
Given the severe impact of medical negligence, it is surprising that 64% of people wait over one year before seeking legal help. However, it is important not to wait. The more time that goes by, the harder exact dates and events become to recall, and those impacted may well suffer needlessly for longer. It’s worth rocking the boat to receive justice for a wrong done.
A medical negligence claim can be made in many areas of medicine, including nursing and dental care. In fact, the kinds of persistent injuries resulting from clinical negligence are as varied as the range of doctors and specialists that can cause them. The top three most common injuries were internal injuries, internal pain and knee injuries.
Who were the medical practitioners most frequently responsible for injury? Unsurprisingly, specialist consultants, who perform the most complex procedures, were responsible for 30% of injuries. Surgeons also made up 30% of those responsible. GPs caused 18% of injuries, 6% were done by nurses and 16% by other medical staff.
So what changes peoples’ minds to give them the strength to start a medical negligence claim? For many, it is the desire to prevent others suffering the same difficulties they have faced. 55% of medical negligence claimants stated that they wanted to prevent injury to others.
Not many go it alone. Medical negligence is a complex area of law with its own specialist knowledge, so most people engage a professional law firm to assist. Many people need the encouragement of others. 64% of people confide their concerns about medical negligence to their friends, who stand behind them in the legal battle. Only 32% tell their families, perhaps wanting to spare them pain. 14% of people claiming for medical negligence injuries are persuaded to do so by a medical professional.
All the above findings point to one direction: when people suffer, they tend to do it on their own.
Turning a negative situation into a positive one can be as simple as speaking with family and friends or seeking professional help. If you’re going through something similar this might seem like a difficult step but most likely you will feel better, get rewarded and help others at the same time.