What do you need to prove?
It is necessary to show that whatever the doctor did or did not do fell below the standard of a reasonably competent doctor in that field of medicine. The duty of care that a doctor owes a patient may include:
- Properly assessing the patient’s condition, taking into account the symptoms, patients views and an examination where necessary.
- Consulting and taking advice from colleagues where necessary.
Where a doctor is an employee of an NHS Trust the institutional health provider will be liable for its employees’ breaches of duty. The NHS could also be a defendant in a claim of negligence without the claimant having to prove negligence on the part of an individual medical practitioner. The duty of care that the NHS Trust owes may include:
- The provision of staff with the appropriate levels of knowledge, experience and ability.
What is the Cause of the Injury?
In a clinical negligence claim you will need to assert that as a result of the negligent treatment you have suffered:
- An unexpected injury/condition;
- Any pre-existing injury/condition you had became worse; or
- You failed to recover from your injury/condition or recovery chances have diminished.
The adverse outcome can arise as a result of many different variables and it may therefore be difficult to show that “but for” the breach the outcome would not have arisen. This has to be shown on a balance of probabilities.
Clinical negligence claims are notoriously difficult to prove thus specialist legal advice is necessary. It is a highly specialist area and it is thus important to ensure that you have a solicitor who specialises in this area of law. The doctor or NHS Trust for example will be represented by experts thus making it increasingly important to obtain the specialist advice that we can provide.