Needing surgery for a serious injury or illness will often be very stressful but, in many cases, the operation will go to plan and help the patient to recover fully. However, surgical errors do sometimes happen and they can make things a lot worse than they were before. If you or a loved one has been affected by medical negligence during surgery, this guide on surgical negligence claims will explain your options. We’ll explain how much compensation could be paid for surgical mistakes and how the claims process works.
We’re happy to talk you through the claims process over the phone during a no-obligation consultation. When you call, a specialist will discuss what happened, offer free legal advice and review the options available to you. If they suspect that your claim is strong enough, they’ll refer you to a medical negligence solicitor on our team. Importantly, you won’t need to pay them upfront if your case is taken on as you’ll receive No Win No Fee legal representation.
To learn more about surgical negligence claims, please read on. Alternatively, you can call 0800 6524 881 to speak to a specialist right away.
Table of contents
- What Is Surgical Negligence?
- Am I Eligible To Make A Surgical Negligence Claim?
- How Much Compensation For Surgical Negligence?
- Evidence To Support A Surgical Negligence Claim
- Time Limits For Claiming Surgical Negligence Compensation
- Starting The Surgical Negligence Claims Process
The time it takes to qualify as a surgeon in the UK means that the standard of care provided in NHS and private hospitals is usually very good. In some cases, though, mistakes made by the surgeon can occur and could result in a surgical negligence claim. Some examples of surgical errors that might lead to a claim include:
- Never events i.e. where the wrong organ is removed or the wrong part of the body is operated on.
- Avoidable damage to an internal organ.
- Anaesthetic errors leading to excessive pain or awareness during surgery.
- Hospital-acquired infections caused by poor hygiene standards in the operating theatre.
- Foreign objects such as swabs and surgical items being left inside the body.
- Avoidable nerve and blood vessel damage.
- Failure to monitor oxygen levels during surgery leading to brain injury.
- Blood transfusion errors.
- Avoidable injuries during a caesarean section.
- Orthopaedic negligence causing worsening knee, hip or pelvis pain.
- Failure to fully remove cancerous tissue.
These are just a few examples of the types of scenarios that could result in a surgical negligence claim. Even if we’ve not listed one similar to your own, please get in touch and we’ll review your options for free.
Some of the main problems caused by surgical negligence include:
- Unnecessary pain and suffering.
- Disability – i.e. if a hip replacement goes wrong.
- Psychological suffering – for example becoming depressed because you’ve been left with a more serious injury.
- More invasive treatment might be required to rectify the surgeon’s mistake.
Any problems caused by a surgical error will need to be investigated and considered fully as part of any compensation claim. If you work with a specialist solicitor from our team, they’ll work hard to ensure that any compensation awarded is fair.
Generally, to be eligible to make a surgical negligence claim you’ll need to prove the following:
- Duty of Care: The surgeon owed you a duty of care, meaning that they had a responsibility to provide you with a reasonable standard of care.
- Breach of Duty: The surgeon breached their duty of care by acting in a way that fell below the reasonable standard of care expected of them.
- Causation: The breach of duty caused you to sustain an injury or caused you additional suffering. In other words, your injury or suffering would not have occurred if the surgeon had not breached their duty of care.
As you might imagine, your solicitor cannot decide that your surgeon was negligent on their own. Instead, a third-party expert will be called upon to assess the treatment you received.
This is called the Bolam test where they’ll examine whether anything should’ve been done differently during your surgery. If they agree that the surgeon was negligent, you could be eligibile to claim compensation for any suffering caused.
This process is the same whether claiming against the NHS or a private medical provider. It is also the same if you’re claiming compensation for negligence during cosmetic surgery.
Unfortunately, some surgical mistakes can lead to fatalities. Knowing that a loved one has died because of such a mistake can be devastating. While no amount of compensation will stop the pain caused by your loss, it could help you with any financial impact.
If you do decide to claim, you could claim for your loss of companionship and any costs incurred as a result of your loss (such as funeral costs). Additionally, a medical negligence solicitor on our team could help you to claim if you were financially dependent on the deceased’s income, pension or other benefits.
There’s no obligation to claim if you do call and we won’t put you under any pressure whatsoever. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Legally, a child cannot make a medical negligence claim until they turn 18 years old. Even when they do become an adult, they might not have the mental capacity to start a claim if they suffered a brain injury during surgery for example.
However, we could still help you to claim the compensation your child deserves for their suffering. If this is something you’d like to know more about, please get in touch. If a solicitor on our team agrees to work with you, they’ll help you to apply to be your child’s litigation friend. After you have been approved, you’ll be able to manage the claim and work with the solicitor on your child’s behalf.
Any settlement offer will be validated by a court to ensure it covers all of your child’s needs. This could include a lump sum payment and annual payments for the rest of your child’s life if needed.
The amount of compensation for surgical negligence you could claim should account for any mental, physical or monetary problems caused by your injuries or illness. We believe that your chances of receiving a fair settlement amount will increase if you’re represented by a medical negligence solicitor.
If you work with one on our team, they’ll review your suffering in detail and could help you to claim compensation to cover:
- Any physical pain, suffering or discomfort.
- Mental health issues (anxiety, stress or depression).
- Any negative effect on your usual activities and hobbies.
- Lost earnings including future losses for longer-term problems.
- The cost of a professional carer or the time a friend spent supporting you.
- Travel costs linked to your injuries.
- Remedial medical costs.
- Changes to your home that make it easier for you to cope with any ongoing problems.
To help prove the extent of your injuries from a surgical error, your solicitor will book an independent medical assessment. Here a specialist will discuss your injuries with you and examine you. Their report will be used as a basis for any compensation you claim.
As discussed above, surgical negligence claims need to be based on some form of suffering caused by medical negligence. Until your claim has been assessed properly, we can’t say exactly what payout you might receive but you can use our compensation calculator to see the guideline amounts for a range of injuries.
Please note that these figures cannot be guaranteed.
If you have been affected by a surgeon’s negligence, you might decide to make a complaint to the NHS or the organisation that performed the surgery. This can be a useful process as it may make it easier to understand what went wrong. It could also lead to procedural changes that might stop somebody else from suffering in the same way.
However, we should point out that you will not receive compensation as a result of a complaint. The only way that could happen is if you start a surgical negligence claim. Therefore, to prove surgical negligence, you will need to provide evidence that demonstrates that the surgeon breached their duty of care towards you, causing you harm or injury. Some types of evidence that may be useful in a surgical negligence claim include:
- Medical records. Your medical records can provide important information about the surgery and any complications that occurred. They may also include notes from the surgeon or medical staff that could support your claim.
- Witness statements. If there were any witnesses to the surgery or the events leading up to it, their statements can provide important corroboration of your account of what happened.
- Photographs. If you suffered visible injuries or complications as a result of the surgical negligence, taking photographs periodically can provide visual evidence to support your claim.
- Other documentation. Any other relevant documentation, such as correspondence with the hospital or surgeon, can also be useful in building your case.
- Financial records. You should also provide any relevant financial records to support your compensation claim. These could include bank statements, previous wage slips for calculating loss of earnings, and any receipts for expenses and costs related to your suffering.
If you make a surgical negligence claim with a solicitor from our team, they’ll manage the whole process on a No Win No Fee basis. That means they’ll collect any evidence needed, deal with all communications and negotiate on your behalf without being paid upfront.
In the UK, the general time limit for making a surgical negligence claim is three years from the date the negligence occurred, or three years from the date when you first became aware of the negligence.
In cases where surgical negligence has led to a severe injury or disability, the time limit may be extended. For example, if the claimant lacks the mental capacity to make a claim themselves, the limitation period won’t begin until they regain capacity unless a litigation friend processes the claim on their behalf.
As mentioned earlier, in cases involving children, the three-year limitation period does not begin until their 18th birthday.
If you are unsure about whether you are still within the limitation period for making a surgical negligence claim, please contact our claims advisors who’ll be happy to advise accordingly.
Please get in touch if you’d like to claim compensation for suffering caused by a surgical error. Our team is available on 0800 6524 881.
Your case will be considered by a claims advisor during your call and you’ll be provided with free advice. If it appears there’s a case to be answered, they’ll connect you with a medical negligence solicitor from our team as soon as possible. Once the solicitor has all the details to hand they’ll also be able to better advise you of how much compensation for surgical negligence you could claim.
Please use our live chat service if you’d like to know anything else about the surgical negligence claims process.