Understanding Hospital Negligence
Most people have to go into hospital at some time in their lives and it is not an experience to which many look forward. Nevertheless, treatment is normally to a high standard and patients generally benefit from their stay. Unfortunately, however, things do not always go as planned and patients sometimes suffer a bad experience that leaves them in a worse state than before they went in. This may be just an unfortunate outcome but in a few cases may be the result of hospital negligence.
The General Medical Council has decreed that doctors must inform their patients if the treatment has gone wrong. If you are a victim, therefore, you should at least be aware of the circumstances and the consequences. This may allow you to judge whether the professionals treating you have failed to provide the duty of care that is expected of them.
You should expect to receive the same level of medical or clinical care whether you are attending an NHS or private hospital. Nearly all medical treatment does involve some level of risk and there are generally some possible side effects. These should be fully explained to you before any treatment starts and you should be asked to sign a consent form that sets out clearly all the risks and possible side effects.
In signing the consent form, you are reducing the risks to the hospital since, should these risks or side effects materialise, any claim for injuries sustained is less likely to succeed. However, any negligence on the part of any member of staff that either makes an existing medical condition worse or causes further injury can still be the subject of a negligence claim. This is not just restricted to doctors and surgeons but may relate to negligent actions or omissions by nurses, dentists and any other medical professionals.
Hospital negligence can refer to a breach of the duty of care that includes failure or delay in diagnosing a condition, failure to obtain proper consent or to properly warn of possible risks or side effects, delayed referrals, careless procedures and incorrect medication. There may be system errors in the hospital and patients may suffer from hospital-acquired infections due to an insufficient level of cleaning. There have also been instances of instruments being not properly sterilised, test results being misinterpreted and inappropriate drugs being administered due to patient records being misread.