MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE FAQ
I think I have a claim, what should I do?
If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, may have been the victim of medical negligence, you should seek advice straight away.
You have only a limited time to claim, so it is important that you speak to someone as soon as possible.
How do I make a complaint regarding my treatment?
In the event that the incident giving rise to your complaint occurred less than six months ago, we will advise you to pursue a formal complaint through the NHS Complaints Procedure, which is available to all patients who feel that there has been some kind of error or inadequacy in their treatment.
Once the complaints procedure is underway, you will be required to set out your allegations against the Hospital/GP and their staff in writing and this will initiate an internal enquiry into the standard of the treatment that you received within the Hospital/GP. Once their investigations are complete, the Hospital/GP will then be obliged to set out a detailed response to each of your allegations.
Although no compensation is available under this scheme, it is a very good way to establish what the Hospital/GP make of your claim and whether they admit any liability for your injuries. This response will provide a very useful starting point to enable us to investigate your allegations and assess the prospects of success in your claim.
The NHS Complaints Procedure will normally take between three and six months to complete.
As Solicitors, we would be unable to represent you in making your complaint, but assistance would be available from your local NHS Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS), who are an independent organisation that will be able to assist you in making your complaint under the Procedure.
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How do I obtain copies of my medical records?
The first step in investigating any claim for medical negligence will be to obtain and consider the content of any relevant medical notes and records.
You are entitled to access any personal information held about you under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1990, or under the provisions of the Access to Health Records Act 1990, in the case of a Deceased individual.
We will normally obtain copies of your medical notes and records for you as part of our investigations into your claim, but have provided some information below to help you understand the process and to assist you should you decide that you would like to obtain any records yourself.
How much will it cost me to obtain copies of my medical notes and records?
The cost of obtaining medical notes and records for a living individual is governed by the Data Protection Regulations 200 and is limited to £50.00 per set of records, inclusive of administration charges and VAT.
Unfortunately, when obtaining the records for a deceased individual, the costs are not limited in the same way and this means that the healthcare provider will be entitled to charge you for copying on a per sheet basis, as well as any administration charges associated with provision of the records. For this reason, we would strongly advise that the cost of obtaining the records for a Deceased individual is requested up front, before any copying is done, to ensure that it is not prohibitively expensive.
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How long do I have to claim?
The time by which you must make a claim for medical negligence is governed by the provisions of the Limitation Act 1980.
Under this Act, a Claimant normally has three years from either the date of the incident, or their date of knowledge that there has been negligence in their medical treatment, whichever is the latest in which to issue their claim at court in order to prevent it from becoming statute-barred. This is known as the ‘Limitation Period’.
In the case of someone who was a minor (under the age of 18) when they received the treatment complained of, they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.
During the course of investigations into a claim for medical negligence, it is sometimes possible to ask the Defendant to agree to extend the limitation period to allow time for the parties to comply with the Clinical Negligence Pre-Action Protocol, which is a section of the Civil Procedure Rules which sets out the various steps that should be taken by the parties to a claim before it is issued at court.
The courts also have a discretion under the provisions of the Limitation Act to disregard the limitation period in certain circumstances.
What can I claim for?
In any claim for medical negligence, a Claimant is entitled to make a claim for General Damages to compensate them for the injury that they have sustained; and for Special Damages, which are designed to compensate them for the financial losses that they have sustained as a consequence of the Defendant’s negligence.
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