The Arguments For and Against Clinical Negligence Claims

docWhen patients feel they are a victim of medical negligence, it can be a tricky problem to resolve. There are, as in any case, two points of view and two arguments to the story. It’s important for any judge or court to consider all the factors before they make their decision, because making the wrong one can have woeful repercussions on one or the other party.

It seems the UK is in the midst of the current ‘if there’s blame, there’s a claim’ policy – daytime television is littered with adverts for various personal injury accident helplines, presumably aimed at an audience who are recovering from an injury or are too ill to go to work. And for many people, this is a good opportunity to get some compensation, closure, and answers.

But it’s worth considering the other side of the argument when considering clinical negligence compensation claims. Generally because although many successful compensation claims take their winnings from a large company or organisation, medical negligence claims tend to pursue a single doctor or carer. And because of the nature of the care, it is often the patient’s word against the doctors. Or in some unfortunate cases, the late patient’s next of kin. There are no eye witnesses like in a road accident claim case. It is a very sensitive and private issue, and when brought to a court of law, it really depends on who is the most convincing in their account.

In some cases it is pure medical negligence, even malpractice. We’ve all heard of the famous cases, and some cases of malpractice are worthy of horror story status. But what if it’s a tiny slip-up because the doctor that day was unable to perform to the height of their ability? We all have days where our performance and output isn’t as good as it could be. Unavoidable factors such as sleep deprivation, stress, family worries or even undiagnosed mental health problems affect everyone, including doctors. So it seems cruel to claim undue compensation because of a natural, small slip-up that you might not have even noticed.

claimsOn the other hand, there is a strong argument for claiming compensation when patients feel they have been mistreated. As the BBC states, ‘The vast majority of people want just two things: an explanation and an apology. And how do health professionals react? They tend to react defensively and close ranks.’ This defensiveness can often provoke people into pursuing a claim they would have otherwise let go with an honest apology. This lack of communication can do serious damage – if the relationship between a doctor and a patient becomes sour and hostile, it can become a real battle of wills instead of a co-operative resolution.

Another good reason for claiming compensation for clinical negligence is if the doctor’s mistake leads to serious repercussions. If it involves the loss of a parent family member, the remaining parent or child may feel the need to make a claim for financial reasons, which is understandable.

There are strong arguments for and against medical negligence compensation claims. If you ever find yourself in a similar position, it’s important to imagine what your claimant/defendant is going through. Try and see it from their point of view – perhaps it will change your perspective.