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Surgical Error Claims

Nobody expects to come out of surgery with more injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to surgical negligence, you could be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming for a surgical error

The process of having surgery can be stressful and traumatic as it typically means time off your feet while you recover. Mistakes during surgical procedures are rare, but they can – and do – happen. If a mistake occurs during surgery, you could have a longer recovery time or further complications. Even if the error is not physically life-changing, it can be mentally.

While starting a surgical error claim may seem daunting, with an expert solicitor, the claims process is as straightforward and stress-free as possible. It all begins with one free phone call to a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438, which is completely pressure-free. They’re simply there to help you understand if you can claim.

If you can, the compensation you receive could help with the impact your injury has had on your life, those around you, and your future.

What is surgical negligence?

Surgical negligence is a type of medical negligence. Specifically, it refers to when the surgery you received was wrong, delayed (leading to further health problems) or not to the standard of other qualified surgeons. All medical staff who treat you during your stay at a hospital, visit the doctor, or when you receive physiotherapy or counselling have a duty of care towards you. This duty of care provides a universal standard for what you can expect and what’s expected of the professional treating you.

When this duty of care isn’t upheld, accidents can happen, and claims can be made. Your solicitor is the best person to assess this and will be able to do so by asking you questions about your experience.

When your solicitor is putting your case together, they will try to establish if other professionals in the same circumstances would have chosen the same treatment or acted in the same way. This means that even when there wasn’t an obvious accident, the person treating you may still have been negligent because they acted wrongly or gave you a treatment others wouldn’t in the same situation.

Starting your claim

Whether you’re ready to start your claim or simply wondering if you can, the first step is to contact a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. By calling them, you can find out if you do have a claim and be put in contact with an expert solicitor who can deal with your case.

On the call with an adviser, they’ll ask some questions about the surgical treatment you received and the injury or illness you’ve suffered. We know this might be traumatic to relive, but the adviser does this so they can get a clearer idea of what happened and how it’s affected you.

Following that, if they think you can make a claim and you decide you’d like to go ahead, they can put you forward to one of their specialist medical negligence solicitors. They’ll then speak to you for free and will gather some more details about your case so that they can fully understand what help you need. Then, if you’re happy to go ahead, they’ll contact the negligent party on your behalf.

There’s no obligation to start a claim when you speak to an adviser – if you’re looking for advice, they can help with that, too.

DID YOU KNOW: You can make a surgical error claim, or another type of medical negligence claim using a no win no fee* agreement. However, for Scotland there are different rules that an expert will be able to talk you through.

Is there a time limit for making medical negligence claims?

The usual time limit for making a surgical error claim is three years from the ‘date of knowledge’. This often means you have three years from the surgery date or when the injury occurred. However, if your injury only became apparent later, you have three years to start a claim. If you’re unsure, don’t worry – a trained legal adviser can let you know when they speak to you if you can start a case.

What’s involved in proving negligence happened?

For a successful surgical error claim to be made, your solicitor will need to prove that:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship, and the doctor owed you a duty of care.
  • The doctor breached that duty of care (i.e. was negligent)
  • The doctor’s negligence caused you harm.
  • The injury led to further injury, illness or suffering (e.g. you were left in mental or physical pain, were unable to work, or needed more medical treatment and/or long-term care).

To help your solicitor with your case, they’ll likely ask you to attend a free medical assessment. This is nothing to worry about and is a routine part of any personal injury claim. The free medical assessment is done by an independent doctor tasked with understanding the full extent of your injuries. They may also provide further rehabilitation plans and advice as part of their assessment.

Types of surgical errors

Surgical errors can happen for many reasons, including long work hours, excessive tiredness, faulty equipment, or inadequate training. But regardless of the cause, the outcome is often that somebody is left with a traumatic experience and a lasting injury.

While many different types of accidents can lead to injury, below are a few examples that might have happened to you:

  • Incorrect treatment given, leading to scarring or, in extreme cases, amputation
  • Incorrect dose of anaesthetic administered by an anaesthetist
  • Internal injuries, such as punctured organs
  • Misinformation given, not fully explaining the complications, risks or your recovery time
  • Infections caused by unclean equipment, cross-contamination, or the wrong prescription
DID YOU KNOW: Surgery was carried out on the wrong part of the body 207 times in England in the year between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019.

‘Never’ events

‘Never’ events are mistakes that are so serious they should never happen. These types of accidents are commonly seen as avoidable, and when they do happen, there has been a grave breach of duty of care and likely severe consequences. You have every right to claim surgical negligence compensation.

Included in ‘Never’ events are mistakes such as:

  • Performing the wrong operation on the right person
  • Performing the scheduled operation but on the wrong person
  • Operating on the wrong part of the patient’s body
  • Leaving something instead of the patient’s body
  • Perforating an internal organ

Can you make a surgical claim on behalf of a loved one?

If your child is aged under 18 and suffers negligence during surgery, you can claim compensation on their behalf any time up until their 18th birthday. After they turn 18, they then have three years to make a claim themselves. You can also make a claim on behalf of another adult if they are considered a ‘protected person’. An example of this would be if they are unable to make their own decisions legally because of a mental disability or if the surgery had resulted in them being unable to start their case.

If the mistake during surgery was fatal, then a compensation claim can be made by the deceased person’s:

  • Spouse
  • Family members
  • Estate

If you’re unsure whether you can make a compensation claim on behalf of a loved one, you can speak to a specially trained adviser by filling in the online form or calling 0800 234 6438 for free. They’ll be able to tell you whether they think you might have a case.

As well as being physically painful and emotionally challenging to cope with, we know your injury is also likely to have had an impact on your finances. Expert injury solicitors look at each case individually and ensure you’re covered for the costs and the effect the injury has had on your life. Because no two cases are the same, your solicitor can’t tell you exactly how much compensation you’ll receive. But you can get a guideline figure by using our free compensation calculator.

After a legal adviser puts you in touch with one of their solicitors, they’ll work hard to understand what you’ve been through so they can make sure you’re fully compensated and not left out of pocket. For example, they’ll look to cover:

  • The cost of your pain and suffering, both physical and psychological
  • The loss of earnings you might have suffered while off work
  • Any savings you’ve spent to cover bills or other costs
  • Any private medical treatment you’ve needed to put your injury right
  • Transport or accommodation costs for you and your family while you were receiving treatment
  • Any future costs or adaptations to your home
  • Social events, hobbies, or activities that you’ve missed out on

Starting a medical negligence claim might seem stressful at a difficult time, but financial support can help reduce your injury’s impact, give you peace of mind, and help you move on with your life. You can contact a trained legal adviser by calling for free advice by calling 0800 234 6438.

Who do you make a claim against?

Surgical negligence can happen in any hospital or medical practice – you could claim whether you’ve been injured in an NHS hospital, private hospital, clinic or doctor’s surgery.

Claiming against an NHS surgeon

If you had surgery on the NHS, your claim will be made against the trust overseeing your treatment, e.g. Lincolnshire NHS Trust. The NHS will be represented by NHS Resolution (formerly known as the NHS Litigation Authority).

You might feel concerned that making a claim against the NHS will impact its ability to provide others with healthcare, but the NHS has systems to handle claims like yours.

Plus, by making a claim, the healthcare service will review their standard of care, which means it’ll be less likely that someone else will suffer the same injury you did in the future.

Surgery negligence claims against private surgeons

If you were injured due to a private operation while staying in a private clinic or an NHS hospital, your claim would go against the surgeon or anaesthetist who caused the mistake – in some cases, that might be both.

Whoever administered your treatment or performed the operation is legally required to have insurance to cover their expenses in case of a claim.

It’s essential to remember that those treating you have a duty of care to help you recover and deliver the highest standards of care. If they have failed to do so, you have a right to claim compensation for surgical errors.

Surgical error claim compensation amounts

When making a surgical negligence claim, the amount you receive depends on numerous factors, including the extent of your injuries and how they impact your life.

For example, minor surgical mistakes that cause some distress but the patient makes a full recovery will result in less money than surgical negligence cases that result in long-term disabilities or death.

Surgery compensation amounts often range from £1,000 to over £1 million, depending on your injuries.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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