What do I do if I'm unhappy with my medical treatment?
It's fair to say that although many people have their complaints with regards to the medical system here in the UK, the majority of patients who receive medical care report a positive experience with their medical professionals and the treatment they received. However, in some cases, a patient may feel that the treatment they received is not up to standard and perhaps even wholly unacceptable.
These complaints may typically include the following:
- Mistakes during surgery
- Failing to diagnose a condition
- Incorrectly diagnosing a condition
- Failing to appropriately refer you to a professional or to escalate treatment
- Prescribed an incorrect medication or dosage
- Failing to warn and obtain consent to risks associated with a treatment or procedure
If you have reason to believe that the medical care or treatment you are receiving is not correct or to the standard it should be, it's vital that you take the necessary steps to ensure you do access the appropriate treatment. You should first consider discussing your complaint with the medical professional(s) who provided you with your treatment.
Who should you make your complaint to?
You should first consult the doctor who is in charge of your care. This is typically a consultant within the hospital or your GP, if you have received treatment within your local community practice.
If you don't feel comfortable enough approaching the doctor or consultant in person to discuss how you feel about the standard of care, you could consider contacting them by phone or e-mail instead. This might give them an opportunity to provide an explanation about the medical treatment you received or explain why you did not receive the treatment or level of treatment you expected. You will then be able to consider how you move things forward following this conversation.
However, it's understandable that even a telephone conversation or back and forth emails can seem intimidating, so there is another route you can choose to take, which is the NHS Patient and Liaison Service (NHS PALS).
What is NHS PALS?
NHS PALS is a service that's available in most NHS hospital and acts as a point of contact for patients, families and carers. PALS officers can be contacted for confidential advice, support and information on health and medical related matters.
PALS will be able to provide you with information about the NHS complaints procedure so that you know the next steps to take if you're considering making a formal complaint.
What if my complaint is in regards to a person who has passed away?
It's possible to make a complaint on behalf of a deceased person if the treatment they received in the lead up to their death has given you cause for concern. You will not be able to obtain any private details related to a patients care from the NHS Trust unless the patient gave their permission, and the duty of confidentiality still persists after a patient has died. Despite this, the law does still give people some access to a deceased person's medical information if they happen to be the appointed Personal Representatives of the deceased individuals estate.
Bringing a claim for financial compensation
If you feel that a complaint is not enough or that the outcome you received following your complaint was not satisfactory, you made decide to bring a claim for financial compensation. In many instances bringing a claim for compensation is not something a person necessarily wants to do, but is instead something they may be forced to do after suffering injury, loss or damage in relation to a medical mistake.
A claim can be pursued for negligent medical care if you're over the age of 18 years. The claim must be made within 3 years from the date of the alleged negligent treatment or 3 years from the date on which you became aware that you had suffered negligent medical treatment. Many negligent claims can be very complex, and given the time limits and the need for you to prove the act or acts negligence, it's important to consult a professional solicitor with expertise in this area as soon as possible.
For those under the age of 18, they will need an adult to seek legal advice on their behalf - the deadline for pursuing a claim is the date of their 21st birthday.
Personal representatives of a deceased person can also bring a claim on behalf of their estate, and this must be pursued within 3 years from the date of death.
If you have reason to believe that the medical treatment you have received was inadequate or not to a satisfactory standard and you'd like to discuss the possibility of making a case for professional negligence, don't hesitate to contact our expert team of solicitors here at Fonseca Law. For a confidential discussion call 01495 303124, e-mail email@example.com or simply complete an online enquiry form.