Accident and emergency claims

Accident and emergency –also known as ‘A & E’for short is a hectic, stressful environment where medical staff have to make decisions, often potentially life saving, whilst under pressure.

What do accident and emergency departments do?

They handle two types of situations:

  • Accidents: trauma e.g. road accidents
  • Emergencies: someone has suddenly developed an illness

These departments form part of the NHS and perform a valuable service which many people have reason to be grateful for. They deal with thousands of emergencies on a daily basis which include road traffic accidents, heart attacks, stabbings and workplace accidents.

They handle all types of cases from relatively mild through to life threatening and whilst this is usually performed to a high standard, things can and do go wrong.

It is important to keep this in perspective: medical professionals treat thousands of patients on a day to day basis and in many cases, save their lives.

However nothing is 100% risk free. Things do go wrong, for example a wrong diagnosis or incorrect treatment which then causes serious problems for the patient.

If you feel that you have become injured or ill as a result of medical negligence whilst in A & E then you may be able to make a claim for compensation. This can include a misdiagnosis, poor treatment, contracting an illness such as MRSA or neglect.

Examples of medical errors

These include missing the symptoms of a heart attack, sign of a fracture or an object within a wound. It can also include poor cleaning of a wound, late diagnosis, failure to refer the patient for tests and incorrect diagnosis.

Things can go wrong if there is a change in shifts and medical notes are not passed into the new shift. This can be a result of poor communication between medical staff who are under pressure at the time.

Making a claim for compensation for A & E negligence

You can choose to make a complaint about your treatment to the hospital in question or your local primary care trust (PCT). If this proves to be unsatisfactory then you can request an independent inquiry.

This inquiry may be handled by the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) who exist to provide help and support to people who wish to make a complaint. This is especially important for those who are considerable vulnerable and less able to do so.

They are an advocacy service which means that they act as a ‘voice’on your behalf. If you are unsure or not confident about the complaints procedure than an advocacy service can act on your behalf.

Another option is to make a complaint to the General Medical Council (GMC). This is a UK based independent regulator which ensures that doctors act in the best interests of their patients. They exist to protect the general public and to ensure that medicine in the UK is practised to the highest standard.

The GMC do not payout compensation but they do discipline doctors who have been found to be negligent. This does go someway to preventing this incident from being repeated. Serious cases result in the doctor concerned being struck off the medical register.

If you wish to pursue a claim for compensation then choose a personal injury lawyer, solicitor or claims management firm who have experience in this area.

They will have knowledge of the issues involved and should handle these with sensitivity and understanding. If they can prove that your injury or illness has been caused by medical negligence then they will work with you to ensure that you are awarded damages which are appropriate to the level of physical and mental distress caused.

For more information about the claims process, visit our making a claim for compensation section.

Time limit for claiming compensation for A & E negligence

The time limit for this type of claim will be discussed with you by your personal injury lawyer or solicitor.

Personal Injury Guide

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