A guide to making a No Win No Fee wrong site surgical negligence claim
'Never events' are defined by the NHS to be incidents that are wholly preventable and that could cause a patient serious harm.
These events include incidents when a surgeon operates on the wrong part of a patient's body. This is termed 'wrong site' surgery. The Department of Health has stated that over 300 Never Events were reported to health authorities in the UK in a single year, and in many cases these events can give rise to clinical negligence compensation claims.
The causes of 'wrong site' operations
In some cases, GP negligence can mean that inaccurate or misleading information is passed to the surgeon, resulting in a wrong site operation.
The surgeon may themselves be negligent, failing to take sufficient precautions before the surgery takes place.
The surgeon may also be negligent during the course of the surgery itself, making an error of judgement that has serious consequences for the patient and gives rise to a surgical negligence claim.
Wrong site surgical negligence
If a healthy body part is operated on in error, the Courts recognise that a patient may suffer harm both physically and mentally. In addition to the possible psychological trauma, the result of surgery on the healthy body part may seriously impact the patient's quality of life and life expectancy.
By delaying the correct surgery, the pain and suffering caused by the patient's existing condition may be unnecessarily prolonged. The patient's condition may also deteriorate, and it is possible that they could develop other complications that would not have occurred if the surgeon had operated on the correct area in the first instance.
What are the obligations of medical professionals performing operations?
In order to prevent wrong site operations and other never events, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has prescribed a surgical safety check-list.
Any organisation which engages in surgery is obliged to ensure that both an executive and a clinical lead are appointed in order to administer the check-list.
Prior to surgery, WHO states that the patient must be fully informed about exactly what the procedure involves and of any potential risks or side effects of the procedure. The patient must indicate that they understand all these details by providing written consent.
The area of the body which is to be operated on should be marked in advance of the surgery, and the medical professionals involved should be fully conversant with the patient's history, including any allergies or increased risks. The surgical team should have a clear understanding of the exact details of the procedure, including specific equipment requirements and any concerns that the patient may have.
What happens next?
To find out more about the medical negligence claims process, read more in our Help and Advice section or call 0800 612 7456 to discuss your questions with a solicitor.
If you would like to get your surgical negligence claim underway, you can call us on 0800 612 7456 or start your claim here.
You can also arrange a callback at a more suitable time if that is more convenient.