The notion of negligence is widely discussed in the fields of public and private healthcare, with some 12,629 clinical negligence claims reported to NHS England in 2020/21.
This represented a new high in terms of the total number of claims processed during a single year, as the NHS buckled under the pressured caused in part by the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s interesting to note that there are also many different types of clinical hospital negligence claims, depending on the precise needs of affected patients and the type of care provided. We’ve broken these down further below, so that you can begin to understand this concept in far greater detail.
#1. Pregnancy – Wrongful or Missed Diagnosis
While pregnancy and childbirth can be a truly wonderous experience, it can also be incredibly challenging both from a physical and mental perspective. There are also a high number of negligence claims raised in relation to pregnancy, especially in terms of missed diagnosis and failure to identify potentially life-changing issues.
There are numerous high-profile cases to provide context here. For example, a mother-of-three is still waiting for an apology from Chesterfield Royal Hospital in relation to an incident in 2016, when her daughter was stillborn.
This occurred despite the mother informing medics that she believed her unborn child to be in distress prior to the birth, with her request for an induction refused out of hand. This claim was settled without the trust accepting blame (which is all too common), but it’s indicative of a failure to prioritise patient wellbeing and missed opportunities to identify potential issues.
This has much to do with an unstaffed and stretched workforce, and one that continues to take a human toll on patients nationwide.
#2. Racial Discrimination
While the Sewell report in 2021 found that the UK wasn’t structurally or institutionally racist, this summary is at odds with a number of other studies that have identified inequality in various public services.
The NHS is no exception to this rule, with one such report highlighting that our national health service must take radical and urgent action to tackle “overwhelming” minority health inequalities.
This includes direct instances of racial discrimination and (more commonly) systematic barriers to accessing healthcare. For example, it remains the case that some trusts lack access to equipment that hasn’t been designed for use on darker skin tones, while this also translates into a lack of ethnic minority data collection and analysis.
Such issues impact on the current and future quality of treatment for ethnic minorities, and they remain a key driver of hospital negligence claims on these shores.
#3. Anaesthetic Claims
In September last year, former French footballer Jean-Pierre Adams died at the age of 73 after being in a coma for 39 years. He was admitted to hospital for knee surgery in March 1982, but never regained consciousness after an erroneous dose of anaesthetic was administered by a trainee.
Such instances are fortunately rare, of course, but they do occur and create seismic negligence claims that are usually pursued by the family of the affected patient.
Once again, this type of claim is more likely to occur in a stretched and understaffed department. For example, the Adams case saw healthcare workers dealing with eight patients at a time, which is why a trainee was allowed to administer the anaesthetic dose in the first place.
This type of claim is often among the highest-profile and most complex, while it can also lead to the most generous compensation payouts.