Last updated on January 7th, 2022
As you may know, if you are injured or made ill following medical negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your suffering. However, proving medical negligence is not an easy thing to do. To win a claim, you’ll need evidence that the medical professional who treated you breached their duty of care and as a result, you suffered. But how is that done? In this guide to the Bolam test, we’ll look at what the Bolam test is and how and why it can be used to help prove clinical/medical negligence.
As we move on, we’ll provide more information on the Bolam test and how it is applied. We’ll also explain what a breach of duty is and how our solicitors could help if you believe you’ve suffered due to medical negligence. If you have any questions whilst reading, please use our live chat or call our advice centre to speak with a specialist.
What Is A Medical Professionals Duty Of Care?
Nurses, doctors, surgeons, dentists, anaesthetists, paediatricians, and other medical professionals have a duty of care towards their patient’s well-being. It means that, by law, they must provide a reasonable standard of care whilst treating their patients.
Where that duty of care is broken and the patient is injured or made ill as a result, a medical or clinical negligence claim might be possible.
Types Of Medical Negligence
There are several ways medical professionals can breach their duty of care. Some examples include:
- Where the patient’s condition gets worse because their condition was misdiagnosed as something else.
- Never events. This is where a patient suffers in an event that should never take place due to specific safety processes that should’ve been adhered to.
- Late diagnosis. Where it takes multiple occasions for a patient’s condition to be diagnosed properly and the delay leads to extra suffering.
- Medication errors. Errors with dispensing or administering medication can lead to suffering such as from an allergic reaction.
- Failure to refer. If a medical professional fails to refer their patient to a specialist for additional testing, a clinical negligence claim might be possible.
The main method used for testing for professional negligence and other forms of medical negligence is the Bolam test.
The test was established after the case of Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee . During the case, the claimant (Mr Bolam) argued compensation should be paid because he’d sustained serious fractures during treatment. The claimant argued that the doctor was negligent because they didn’t use muscle relaxants, had not restrained him and had not warned of the risks of the procedure.
In this case, the claim failed. This was based on the fact that the medical professionals who treated Mr Bolam had followed the correct procedures at the time. Also, unlike now, it wasn’t common for a patient to be told about the risks associated with the treatment received unless they asked.
How Does The Bolam Test Work?
In a medical negligence claim, the defendant (the medical professional) needs to show that they performed in the same way that a panel of medical professionals in the same field would agree was acceptable.
In cases where the panel would’ve acted similarly to the defendant, a compensation claim is unlikely to proceed. However, if they believe the defendant acted inappropriately, compensation for any subsequent suffering could be claimed.
Even when the Bolam test is applied, proving a breach of duty can be tricky. For that reason, other organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published guidelines on duty of care. These guidelines can be used in conjunction with the Bolam test in a medical negligence claim to help clarify whether negligence has occurred.
What Else Must Be Proven In Addition To The Bolam Test?
Even when the Bolam test proves that the medical professional caused your injuries, you won’t automatically receive a compensation payment. That’s because, as well as breach of duty, you must prove causation.
This is where you need to show that your injuries were caused directly by the breach of duty and nothing else. For example, if your injuries can be associated with an underlying condition, you may not be eligible to claim. However, where it can be clearly shown that medical negligence has caused you to suffer, you may have the grounds to proceed.
If you’d like free advice on whether you have the grounds to start a compensation claim, please call today.
How Medical Negligence Solicitors Can Help You Seek Damages
As you can see, even with the Bolam test, proving medical negligence can be a grey area. Our team of medical negligence solicitors have been representing clients for many years. We believe that your chances of being compensated will be increased if you are represented by a specialist solicitor.
Should your claim be accepted, your solicitor will:
- Review your claim in detail with you to gain a full understanding of what happened and how you’ve suffered.
- Collect evidence to support your case including medical records and independent reports.
- File your claim and deal with NHS Resolution (or an insurer for private medical providers).
- Manage all communication so that you aren’t asked to answer complex legal or medical questions.
- Provide regular updates so that you’re aware of how your case is progressing.
- Negotiate on your behalf and deal with any objections or queries raised by the defendant.
- Try to secure the maximum level of compensation possible for you.
All of this work will be carried out on a No Win No Fee basis meaning you’ll only pay for your solicitor’s work if you receive compensation.
If you’d like to discuss your claim with us today, please feel free to call us on 0800 6524 881 right away. A specialist will review your claim right away and can explain the Bolam test and the claims process in more detail.