What is classed as medical negligence?

By Jason Brady

people in a hospital waiting room

Medical negligence, also called clinical negligence, is a legal term. It is used when medical professionals fail to provide care that meets a reasonable standard or quality. This failure leads to harm or injury to the patient.

In the UK, medical negligence is a serious issue that can result in significant pain and suffering. This can be physical, emotional, and financial pain to both patients and their families.

What qualifies as medical negligence?

Medical negligence can include failure to diagnose a medical condition, misdiagnosis, delayed treatment or incorrect treatment, surgical errors, or failure to obtain informed consent from a patient.

To prove medical negligence, it must be shown that the healthcare professional breached their duty of care to the patient. This means they failed to provide the level of care that a reasonable healthcare professional would provide in similar circumstances.

It must also be shown that this breach of duty caused harm or injury to the patient.


Do you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence?

Speak to one of our expert solicitors today for free initial advice about your claim.

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How often does medical negligence occur?

Medical negligence cases in the UK are hard to measure accurately. This is because a lot of incidents are not reported or go unnoticed.

NHS Resolution reported that in 2021/22, there were 15,078 clinical negligence claims, an increase from 13,351 in the prior year.


Examples of medical negligence

Some common instances of medical negligence include:

  • Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose a medical condition resulting in the patient not receiving the appropriate treatment in a timely manner, leading to harm or injury.
  • Surgical errors occur when a healthcare professional makes a mistake during a surgical procedure, such as leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient or operating on the wrong body part.
  • Medication errors occur when a healthcare professional administers the wrong medication, or the wrong dose of medication, or fails to properly monitor a patient’s medication regimen.
  • Failure to obtain informed consent: healthcare professionals are required to obtain informed consent from patients before starting any medical treatment. If a patient is not fully informed about the risks and benefits of a procedure, they may not be able to make an informed decision about their treatment.
  • Birth injuries can include trauma to the baby occurring during labour and delivery, or due to medical negligence. Other issues before, during, and after having a baby can include inadequate prenatal care, failure to recognize and treat conditions such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, improper monitoring of the baby during labour, improper use of instruments such as forceps, failure to order a timely cesarean delivery and failure to properly treat infections.

Blackwater Law medical negligence solicitors acted for Mr L in a medical negligence claim in the High Court after he was misdiagnosed. The misdiagnosis meant he went on to suffer a serious stroke-causing life-limiting disability.

Medical negligence compensation claims

Medical negligence is a serious issue in the UK that can result in harm or injury to patients. Medical professionals must provide appropriate care for their patients. They must also take responsibility for any mistakes that happen.

Patients who have been harmed by medical negligence may be able to seek compensation through the legal system. Contact one of our specialist solicitors for free initial advice and support regarding making a medical negligence claim.

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