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What is medical negligence?

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What is medical negligence

A breakdown of medical negligence in Belfast & Northern Ireland.

Medical negligence comes as a result of a medical or healthcare professional failing to provide a reasonable standard of care. It is also called clinical negligence and medical malpractice. Medical negligence may also go by other names that are specific to the respective service it is referring to, for example, dental negligence. It must be said that we, as a society, owe our healthcare community a great deal. They struggle to keep us all safe and healthy and do often go above and beyond what is expected of them.

Medical professionals can still make mistakes 

Despite this important acknowledgement, healthcare professionals are human and humans can make mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can prove costly for patients, and at worst can even be life-threatening. When a healthcare professional’s actions, or lack of action, results in injury or death, the patient might be entitled to compensation. However, this type of legal case is complicated and liability can be difficult to prove. That’s why it’s important to choose a solicitor with proven expertise when pursuing a claim for medical negligence. 

The 4 D’s of medical negligence

To establish whether something constitutes medical negligence, investigators, including solicitors, will refer to the four D’s of medical negligence.

1) Duty

This refers to the duty of care that the medical professional has with their patient. If it cannot be proved that the professional had a responsibility to look after you, then they might not be liable for a failure in care. 

2) Dereliction

This establishes if the healthcare professional deliberately or accidentally strayed from the generally accepted standard of care in the respective field of care. For example, if the treatment received wasn’t the generally accepted treatment for the presented symptoms. 

3) Direct Cause

This refers to damage caused by the act or omission by the medical professional.  In order to successfully bring a claim in clinical negligence, you must show that damage has been caused by the negligent act.

4) Damages

The damages are the measurable losses incurred by the patient. They range from physical and psychological damage to financial damage such as loss of income. Damages are separated into two heads of damage:

  • General damage for pain and suffering.
  • Special damages which are any financial losses.

Medical negligence claims are complex, but necessary

The complexities of a medical negligence claim cannot be understated. They are challenging and can often last a number of years. If a medical professional that you trusted caused harm, you have a right to access justice and that is achieved through litigation. A complex case should not dissuade you from seeking deserved compensation. Claiming may also have wider societal benefits. By claiming and winning, healthcare professionals may put in place safeguards and measures to prevent similar harm from occurring to other patients. By claiming, you might be protecting others.

Choosing your medical negligence solicitor

The complicated nature of medical negligence claims require a specialist legal team. When instructing a solicitor, you should feel safe in the knowledge that they are up for the task. Don’t hesitate to ask for evidence of their expertise. Read case studies and testimonials from other clients. The relationship between a medical negligence solicitor can last years and although it’s a professional relationship, it’s also a very close one. Have a conversation and evaluate if you are willing to work with them for years to come.

We are medical negligence claims experts

If you have been let down by a medical professional in the past three years, we can help. You can contact us for a free exploratory chat or learn more about what we do at Medical Negligence Claims.


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