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Understanding the different types of medical negligence

Hugh James is here to put things right when you or a loved one have suffered from neglectful medical treatment. You expect a basic level of care when you attend a medical practice in the UK but when that’s breached, it can have huge impacts on your health and finances.

Understanding the different types of medical negligence may be confusing for those that haven’t experienced it before. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on examples of medical negligence and how we can support you with a claim. We’re always here to help, so get in touch with us today to find out more or discuss a potential claim with our legal experts.

In this section of our medical negligence guide, we’ll discuss:

What is medical negligence?

According to the Health and Social Act of 2008, all medical professionals have a duty of care to patients and must ensure healthcare meets the highest standards. Failure to do this may be classed as medical negligence and can make the road to recovery even longer for patients.

Medical negligence can occur at most stages of care including diagnosis, treatment, surgery and aftercare as these are all key parts of a patient recovering from their injury or illness. If you’ve experienced negligent medical care, then you could be owed compensation.

What are some examples of medical negligence?


Mistakes made when a medical professional is diagnosing a patient can impact recovery and lead to improper treatment or medication, which could worsen the issue.

An incorrect, missed or untimely diagnosis can cause delays in getting the right treatment, which we understand can be extremely frustrating. Common conditions that are misdiagnosed include cancer or diabetes as the symptoms can be difficult to detect.


Common surgical errors that can happen include:

  • Incorrect surgery
  • Foreign objects left in the body
  • Infection caused by poor hygiene
  • Forgot to inform patients of the risks involved
  • Incorrect anaesthetic amount


The incorrect administration of anaesthetic is another form of medical negligence. It can lead to several issues including a patient experiencing pain or waking up mid-surgery. Both of these issues can be stressful and cause long-term issues that may need further treatment.

Incorrect medication

Mistakes can be made with a prescription and a patient may be given the wrong medication or incorrect dosage.

For example, if a patient’s been given a medicine that they’re allergic to, then it could have serious consequences. Medical professionals should take care to prescribe the right medication or could be liable for medical negligence.

Pregnancy and birth injuries

Patients rely on the medical professional to support them and provide the right level of care for a smooth delivery. Errors by doctors and midwives can still happen, unfortunately, which is an example of medical negligence.

If the mother or baby (or both) has been injured during childbirth, medical negligence may have occurred if the following has happened:

  • Stillbirths
  • Broken bones
  • Lack of oxygen


Medical negligence also extends to dental treatment. Incorrect practice can cause pain and trauma whether it was done by mistake or as an oversight.

Some examples of dental negligence include:

  • Delayed or incorrect diagnosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss or damage of teeth

It’s worth noting that this list is by no means exhaustive as medical negligence can come in many forms. If you think you may have suffered from medical negligence but aren’t sure, then please contact us. Our experts will be able to provide advice on whether you have a case.

How do you prove medical negligence?

It can be hard to prove medical negligence in some cases. This is because victims of medical negligence must be able to satisfy the following legal tests:

Prove that the medical professional or establishment had a duty of care to you

Prove that the duty of care has been breached

Prove that this breach has directly caused harm to you

Although each case is unique, the types of evidence needed to prove medical negligence remain the same. To support your claim, you’ll need the following:

Medical records

Your medical records will be helpful in assessing the level of care you received and whether this care caused or contributed to any injury that you’ve suffered. The lawyers here at Hugh James can source this information so that we can begin assessing it as soon as possible.

Following review of the medical records, should we consider that your injuries may be linked to medical negligence, then we will have your records assessed by an independent medical expert, who will be asked whether the 3 legal tests above are fulfilled and to provide the necessary evidence for your claim. Should this expert be supportive, we may arrange for you to be examined by them and a further report provided. This will include the extent of the injuries and how they have impacted and will continue to impact your everyday life.

A detailed statement from you

A detailed statement can help to determine when and in what way the medical negligence occurred in your opinion as well as set out the impact it has had on your daily life. In your statement, we will ask you to recall each stage of the treatment and inform us when you consider the negligence occurred. This may be across several stages depending on the type and level of negligence you’ve suffered.

We will then ask you to talk about the impact it has had on your life. This can involve both physical barriers, like getting to your place of work, or mental barriers such as depression and anxiety. This will show us to what extent the medical negligence has impacted you, which will be useful when we come to consider the value of your claim.

Other witness statements

Taking statements from friends and family members can also assist, both to support your allegations of medical negligence and your claims as to how the negligence has affected your daily life . These statements will provide added insight into how you were before and after your injury, which may go a long way in supporting your claim.


If the medical negligence has caused a physical injury, then it is helpful to have photographs that support your statement and claim. These could be before and after pictures, to show how the medical treatment has impacted your body.

We understand that medical negligence injuries aren’t always visible on the surface, so don’t worry if you can’t provide any picture evidence.

Expert evidence

We will need to instruct an expert in the same field as the clinician or clinicians who treated you to review your medical records and the other evidence listed above and reach his or her independent view on whether the treatment you received was negligent.

If that expert is able to identify negligence in the course of your treatment, we will need to go on and instruct other experts to provide reports on the extent and severity of damage the negligence has caused.

How can I make a medical negligence claim?

We know that claiming for medical negligence can be confusing, which is why we’re here to support you every step of the way. We’ve made the process as simple as possible to help you get started. So, contact us if you think you’ve received negligent care from a healthcare provider or professional.

The first stage is an initial, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case with one of our experts. We’ll take great care to listen to your experience and let you know if we believe you have grounds to claim. You’ll then be able to instruct us to bring forward your case if you wish.

Our next step is to begin collecting evidence. Your solicitor will also begin assessing it to understand the severity of your claim and confirm the likelihood of your case winning. This may also involve your injuries being reviewed by an independent medical professional.

The costs incurred as a result of your injury will also be collected at this stage so that we can figure out an accurate settlement figure for your claim. This could be for the cost of rehabilitation, restorative treatments or home adaptations. If you have receipts of these transactions, that will be extremely helpful for your solicitor.

Our expert solicitors will always try to resolve your case outside of court and that usually does happen. According to data collected by NHS Resolution, 77% of medical negligence claims were resolved before reaching a courtroom. If your case does go to court, we’ll be by your side to help you feel as prepared as possible.

Why choose Hugh James?

We’re with you every step of the way and will guide you through the entire process to make sure you feel comfortable with your medical negligence claim. Our highly trained lawyers have been highly ranked by the Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 independent legal guides.

Our solicitors treat every case on a unique basis to ensure we find a solution that works for you. When discussing your claim, we’ll learn as much as we can about your injuries and how they’ve impacted your life, so that we can build as strong a case as possible.

We’re here for you and are well-placed to support your case for many reasons, including:

  • We’re one of England and Wales’s top injury compensation claims firms for medical negligence
  • We won back-to-back Clinical Negligence Team of the Year honours at the Personal Injury Awards
  • We recover more than £30 million each year in medical negligence compensation for our clients
  • We have a wide range of highly qualified staff to ensure your case is handled as thoroughly as possible. This includes a former midwife, qualified nurse executives, welfare benefits advisors, medical records officers and qualified social workers
  • We’re accredited by Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
  • We have hundreds of positive reviews on Trustpilot, so you can see all the reasons why people trust us with their medical negligence claims

Your medical negligence questions answered

Your initial consultation will be free and we’ll assess the information you provide to us and tell you if your case has a reasonable chance of success. There will be no obligation to go through with your claim from here, but if you do, then we may be able to offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement or “no win, no fee agreement”. This means that you won’t have to pay any legal fees if your case is unsuccessful.

Should you win your case then we will recover our reasonably incurred fees from the Defendant. A success fee and a non-recoverable element of your After-The-Event insurance will however be deducted from your compensation amount. These deductions will be capped, so you will be guaranteed to receive compensation in a successful claim.

All information regarding the funding of your case will be discussed in full during your initial consultation before you decide to instruct us. We hope this will make you feel more confident in proceeding with your claim to get the compensation you deserve for your injury.

Our healthcare system normally does a fantastic job but sometimes things do go wrong. Whether it’s GP negligence or hospital negligence if something has gone wrong you may be able to make a medical negligence claim, but you’ve only got a limited time to do so.

The general time limit for these cases is three years on from the date of the negligent treatment – or three years from when you became aware of the negligence. However, the rules can be complicated, which means in certain cases you could claim long after three years have passed. It’s always best to contact a solicitor in these cases and they can advise you on whether or not the time limit has passed.

There are other limits to bear in mind too. For example, if a child receives negligent treatment, then a claim can be made on their behalf at any time until their 18th birthday. Once they reach 18 years old, the three-year timeline will begin. Those who don’t have the mental capacity to make a claim will not have the three-year rule applied to them at all. Should their mental capacity be regained, then they will have three years from this date to make a claim.

We can offer guidance based on our in-depth knowledge of the claims process. We’ll be with you every step of the way if you decide to claim and will strive to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. For more information on how to make a medical negligence claim, get in touch using our online form or speak to us directly.

The compensation you receive should improve the quality of your life and cover any costs that you’ve incurred since the negligent treatment. This includes:

General damages

This is compensation for the injury you have sustained. It covers any pain, suffering or loss of quality of life caused by the negligence. The level of compensation you receive for general damages will be determined by the severity and longevity of your injury, following a thorough assessment from an independent medical expert.

Special damages

Special damages are designed to reimburse you for any past or future financial losses incurred as a result of your injury.

Past losses include:

  • Private medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Prescription charges/medication
  • The purchase of aids and appliances
  • Loss of earnings
  • Travel expenses
  • Care costs (including gratuitous care provided by friends and family)
  • Housing adaptations
  • Future losses can include:
  • Future loss of earnings
  • Loss of pension
  • Accommodation costs
  • Future private medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Aids and appliances
  • Care costs (including gratuitous care provided by friends and family)

It’s important to note that these lists are not exhaustive and that other costs that you believe are connected to your injury will be assessed by our experts when you instruct us.

The best way to ensure you recover all your financial losses is to keep a copy of all relevant receipts and invoices so that we can prove what you purchased and how much you spent. We will then use this evidence to try to get you the maximum compensation possible.

Every claim is different, but our expert lawyers try to settle each one as soon as they possibly can. Some factors that can influence how long a medical negligence claim will take include:

  • The severity of the injury
  • Whether it was caused by a private medical practice or the NHS
  • How easy it is to gather strong evidence
  • The number of experts needed, and their waiting lists
  • How quickly the other party accept blame and agree a settlement amount
  • Whether treatment is recommended before an accurate prognosis can be determined

We know how scary the thought of going to court may be to you. Fortunately, only a small percentage of claims will go to a formal trial, however, our expert solicitors prepare each case in-depth to ensure we’re ready, in the event that court proceedings are required.

The medical negligence system is designed to try and find a solution without formal court proceedings being required. This helps to save time and money whilst preventing the stress of court for victims of medical negligence.

Should your case go to trial, we will go to great measures to prepare you for court, so you feel as comfortable as possible with proceedings. This means you’ll be fully prepared  by our expert lawyers and they will be there for you every step of the way, offering support to you as and when you need it.

By your side, every step of the way

We hope our guide has provided the information you need about what the different types of medical negligence are and how you can bring a claim forward. If you think you have a claim, then get in touch with us today. Our medical negligence lawyers will listen to your story and let you know if your case has a chance of success.

This consultation has no obligation to proceed with a claim either. We will simply share our knowledge with you in your time of need. If you do instruct us, then we’d be delighted to help you and will work tirelessly to ensure you feel supported every step of the way.

Key contact

Ruth Powell


Ruth is a Partner and Head of our Clinical Negligence Department. She has exclusively practised in clinical negligence since qualifying in 1995 and has a wealth of experience in complex and high value clinical negligence claims.

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