A patient expects a doctor or medical clinician to provide medical treatment with all the knowledge and skill that the professional possesses to relieve or cure a medical problem. A doctor or medical clinician owes a duty of care to all patients to make a competent diagnostic assessment, prescribe appropriate treatment, and to refer to other specialists for further investigation, clinical assessment or treatment where appropriate.

A doctor or medical clinician who fails to reach a level of competence commensurate with the level of care that is expected of all doctors or medical clinicians operating at that level may be of risk of being found to be in breach of their duty of care toward a patient. If their acts or omissions in some way causes a clinical injury or an exacerbation of an otherwise treatable condition, a doctor or medical clinician may be liable to pay the patient compensation.

Defending a Clinical Negligence Claim

Some claims against a doctor or medical clinician may be speculative and can be resolved with a robust defence at an early stage, whilst other claims may take some considerable time to resolve.

In some instances, doctors or medical clinicians accept that they have in good faith made a clinical error or judgment which has unintentionally harmed a patient. In such cases, a careful assessment needs to be undertaken to determine whether the doctor or medical clinician  should accept responsibility. The doctor or medical clinician may claim that the injury was an unforeseeable consequence of the medical treatment. In some cases, no harm will have been caused by the error of judgment and as such, there will be a denial of causation, even where a breach of duty of care is admitted. However, where liability is accepted, and it is accepted that damage has been caused, the level of damages will need to be an assessed. Advancing a good counter argument to the claim in damages can lead to significantly lower compensation being paid by a doctor or medical clinician or their insurer to the patient.

Where a doctor or medical clinician denies an element of a patient’s allegations of clinical negligence, the doctor or medical clinician may need to give evidence at a trial before a civil judge. Clinical experts may also need to be summoned to give a written opinion and to give evidence.

All clinical negligence claims will undoubtedly cause stress and anxiety on the part of the defendant with a fear of possible consequential reputational damage. Audley Chaucer Solicitors are skilled at pursuing and defending all such medical negligence claims. Please contact John Szepietowski for a confidential review of your case.

Joseph Beams

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