Medical negligence - Medical accidents ( 10.7.0. )



Medical negligence / Medical accidents

Extent: Jersey
Updated: 22 January 2019


Words you may need to know

Medical -  relating to health and treatment given by a doctor or someone trained in medicine  

Negligence - a civil wrong in law causing injury or harm to another person or to property as the result of doing something or failing to provide a proper or reasonable level of care.

Civil law - law involving individuals or groups in a legal action other than a criminal prosecution.

Unforeseen -  not expected, sudden, not planned for  

Symptoms - a sign that something, (usually something bad) is happening  

Negotiations - reaching an agreement through discussion/ talking

Appropriate -  suitable in the circumstances, right for that person

Dispute - to disagree or argue about something

Reluctant - unwilling, loath

Re-examination - going back and checking something

Disclosure - information that is given out or revealed



What is medical negligence

Medical negligence is when a healthcare professional (doctors, nurses or other related professionals) fail to take reasonable care of you as a patient. They are under a duty to do so.

What is a medical accident

A medical accident happens when someone suffers unforeseen symptoms or injury which cannot be blamed on negligence by either healthcare professionals or manufacturers who develop or produce health products.

Action to take for medical negligence

Making a complaint

Before you take formal action about a complaint, you may wish to ask the person you hold responsible ( a doctor or medical adviser ) for more information about the reason for your complaint and give them the opportunity to explain their actions. This means you will get more information on which to decide how to act.

Dealing with complaints about services provided will normally involve negotiations. These negotiations may involve you and/ or other parties. A speedy and successful outcome may depend these negotiations.

A basic difficulty with many complaints is that the matter often comes down to the practitioner's personal, clinical judgement about what is the most appropriate treatment in that particular case.

You may need to get a second opinion in order to take a complaint forward. This will be really important if the dispute is likely to go to court. For example, if you are withholding payment or going to sue for negligence.

In practice, it is not always easy to get a second opinion from another practitioner as they are often reluctant to become involved in a complaint against another member of their profession. They may have to be convinced that there are good grounds for re-examination and will almost certainly make a charge for seeing you or giving a written opinion. Some practitioners may not be prepared to give a second opinion unless they receive a formal request from your  GP or an insurance company.

A complaint against a General Practitioner should be referred to The Primary Care Team, please see link

To complain against Health and Social Services - (Staff members or Services) see 10.6

Seeking damages or compensation

You may feel that making a complaint is not enough for the injury suffered. In this case, you may need help to take legal action against the medical practitioner, institution or producer. Some examples of medical negligence might be:-

However, it should be recognised that an outcome of medical treatment which results in harm does not necessarily mean that negligence has taken place, but may simply be an unavoidable risk of the medical treatment or condition.

Taking legal action

It is important to get the proper legal advice for any action in cases of medical negligence. Such cases can be very complicated and can take many years to resolve, medical second opinions will usually be needed and it may be necessary to wait to see what the outcome of the injury to the person amounts to; things can get better or worse over time. Needless to say, any legal work is expensive, and you would only get legal costs paid by the defendant if you won the case. You may lose the case, or there may be not enough evidence to take a case.

There is a list of specialist accident injury lawyers at 4.2.2.

NOTE: Access to a patient's notes is not the same as in the UK. General Practitioners own the records that they keep, the Health and Social Services Department holds the records of patients treated in Jersey hospitals. The Department follows formal guidelines for the disclosure of health records in a potential claim of personal injury or death, before a case comes to court.