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What Does Medical Negligence Cover?

Updated on October 7, 2015
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Medical Negligence

Many people will have heard of the term ‘medical negligence’ but may be less sure about what it actually involves. Medical negligence, as the name suggests, is negligence that occurs in a medical setting, usually by a medical professional such as a doctor or a nurse. It most often caused by inattention or mistakes being made that negatively affect the patient, but in a rare few cases it can be done maliciously or on purpose. Many different types of incidents can fall under the medical negligence ‘umbrella’ and it may not be immediately obvious that you have a case. If you believe that you may have a case there are a number of organisations and medical negligence law firms that can help you.

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Misdiagnosis

One of the most frequent causes of medical negligence is related to the diagnosis, this can be the result of a problem or a delay or it could simply be a misdiagnosis. As there are so many different forms of illness and medical problems, many of the symptoms can overlap or seem similar and mistakes can be made. An incorrect diagnosis can lead to further unnecessary suffering or pain on the part of the patient that can be both emotional and physical. For cancer patients in particular it can be crucial for there to be no delay or mistakes in diagnosis as this can negatively affect the success of treatment. Fractures can also be easily overlooked or mistaken for another ailment. If the diagnosis of a fracture is missed the patient can suffer a great deal of pain and if they continue to use the bone it can result in lasting damage.

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'Superbugs'

The different types of medical negligence have also changed over the years. ‘Superbugs’ are a form of medical negligence that have become more of a problem in recent years. As antibiotics have become a treatment that is ‘de rigueur’ for many ailments, some strains of bacteria have become antibiotic-resistant. These types of bacteria are known as ‘superbugs’ and can cause difficult-to-treat infections in humans. All hospitals should follow strict rules relating to hygiene and cleanliness but some do not and can become breeding grounds for superbugs like MRSA and C-Difficile. Some forms of superbug can be particularly problematic as they can survive outside the body, on surfaces and equipment, for months at a time. If a patient falls prey to a superbug they may have a medical negligence case – while receiving medical care you should not be in a situation where you contract a separate infection as a result of the medical environment.

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Hospital Negligence

Medical negligence may also be referred to as ‘hospital negligence’ if a problem or an incident occurs while a patient is in the hospital. Surgical negligence is a common form of hospital negligence. Surgery is a highly delicate and meticulous process that is carried out by highly trained medical professionals. However, sometimes things will go wrong – often resulting in a surgical negligence case. In very rare cases surgical equipment has been left inside the patient after an operation or the wrong organ has been removed. Slightly more common are anaesthesia errors or problems with the equipment. If the anaesthesia is not administered correctly it can lead to the patient being awake or able to feel pain during the surgery – both of which can result in trauma for the patient.

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Dental & Pharmaceutical

Medical negligence can also happen outside the hospital setting. You may have a dental negligence case if you suffered as a result of a dentist’s actions or advice. Misdiagnosis of a dental problem can lead to unnecessary pain but dental negligence can also cover the incorrect removal of teeth or if dental work results in an infection. Negligence can also happen in a pharmaceutical setting. If a pharmacist prescribes the wrong dosage or even the wrong type of medication altogether it can fall under medical negligence. Finally, the emergency room can be another setting for medical negligence. In the emergency room a great deal of decisions and actions are made quickly and under a great deal of pressure – mistakes can be made. If an ambulance takes too long to arrive at the scene of an emergency and a substantial injury is suffered this can result in legal action.

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Other Cases

Other forms of medical negligence can include circumstances where cosmetic surgery was carried out improperly or lead to injuries, or where nursing staff did not correctly monitor the care or the status of a patient. If you have suffered ‘battery’, when you have been operated on without your consent, you can file a case. You can also file a case if you have remained, or become, pregnant after an abortion or a sterilisation procedure. If a medical professional did not explain the risks of a surgical procedure and something went wrong, you will be able to make a claim. If you or your child suffered an injury during childbirth or pregnancy due to medical care or advice you should have a case. There are so many different types of medical negligence that if you feel that you were wronged or injured by a medical professional or in a medical setting you should definitely do some investigating into whether or not you have a case.

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