Surgical Negligence: What you Need to Know

In today’s world, should you require medical treatment by a surgical procedure, it is fully reasonable to expect that your treatment will be carried out by a fully trained medical professional and team, who have the skills, training and equipment to be able to treat and care for you safely, successfully and to a high standard of care. It is wholly reasonable to place your trust in that team, and enter into any surgical procedure being fully aware of any potential risks and outcomes. When this doesn’t happen, for example when a procedure does not go to plan, when their skills or equipment falls short of the required standard, or your informed consent was not sought prior to the surgery, this is when surgical negligence may have occurred.

Whether carried out by the NHS, a private hospital or clinic, the individual in receipt of that treatment may be in a position to claim compensation, and can do this by seeking specialist legal advice and support. Their role is then to investigate and review the information, often seeking specialist second opinion in order to establish if the individual bringing the claim has indeed been a victim of substandard care.

It is well accepted that all surgery carries risk, and therefore not all procedures that result in a poor outcome can be classed as having been subject to surgical negligence. For a surgical negligence claim to be successful, it is necessary to prove that the unwanted result was preventable, unacceptable and resulted in injury, and any claim must be brought to court within 3 years of the injury.

The result of surgical negligence can be devastating, and in the UK each year there are many such case brought to court; cases involving foreign objects being left inside patients, surgery carried out on the wrong body part, and poor procedures leading to infection and further injury. It results in physical and psychological suffering, leaving patients with permanent injury, secondary illnesses, post-operative infections and the need to have further procedures. The implications of surgical negligence are far reaching and long-lasting, affecting individuals and their families, inflicting pain and suffering and can result in a large financial cost to that individual who may find themselves unable to work and in receipt of further medical bills. Compensation resulting from a successful surgical negligence claim cannot reverse the effects, but it can go some way to acknowledging and supporting the individual as they go forward in life.