Orthopaedics and clinical negligence claims
What is orthopaedic medicine?
Orthopaedics medicine focuses on the care of the musculoskeletal system. This system consists of muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
There are two types of orthopaedists: surgical and nonsurgical. Orthopaedic surgeons perform surgical procedures, while nonsurgical orthopaedists include therapists, physiotherapists, nurse practitioners and rehabilitation specialists.
What medical conditions do orthopaedists treat?
In broad terms:
What is clinical negligence?
Clinical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional gives a patient substandard care and as a result, the patient sustains injuries they would otherwise not have sustained. Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to all their patients to ensure they are treated properly and appropriately. Where substandard care has been given it is normally either a failure to treat the patient properly for their medical condition or a failure to get proper and informed consent from a patient for their medical treatment.
Why is clinical negligence different from other types of negligence?
Clinical negligence involves healthcare professionals such as doctors, surgeons, nurses, dentists and other medically qualified personnel. Victims of clinical negligence by definition are often already ill at the time inadequate care is given, compounding an already complicated situation. Victims may be left not only with their original medical complaint but further injury caused by incompetent care.
Cases are often complex and the solicitors handling the action must have a knowledge of both law and medicine and the interaction between the two. This requires a significant level of expertise and skill from the solicitor.
How common are mistakes in orthopaedic care in the NHS?
In the 2021-2022 NHS Resolution report, orthopaedic surgery accounted for 12% of all claims of clinical negligence and 3% of all claims paid out. Between 2018 – 2022 there were 3991 cases of clinical negligence involving orthopaedic surgery.
What types of clinical negligence claims arise in orthopaedic surgery?
What are the consequences of clinical negligence in orthopaedic surgery?
This will depend on the nature of the surgery and the original orthopaedic complaint. Some patients may recover relatively quickly where the original complaint was not serious and the negligent act remedied quickly. In other cases there may be life long difficulties with pain, suffering and disability. In the most serious cases, patients’ ability to work have been severely curtailed and they have been unable to care for themselves with devastating consequences for them and their families' physical, mental and economic well being.
What should I do if I think I have a claim for clinical negligence in orthopaedic surgery?
You should see your solicitor. They will take instructions from you about the circumstances of your treatment. They will then obtain all your relevant medical notes and records to ascertain precisely what treatment you were given. After going through the records and ensuring their accuracy, they will instruct an expert physician with the relevant expertise in orthopaedic medicine to determine if the treatment given to you was negligent. If the expert finds that the treatment given was below the standard you were entitled to expect they will advise you accordingly and you can begin an action for compensation against the healthcare professional who was responsible for your medical care.
How long do I have to make a claim?
Normally in personal injury law (but see below for clinical negligence matters), you have:
In clinical negligence cases, the time limit (what lawyers call the “limitation period”) of three years will normally start either from the date of the act of negligence or from the date the patient knew or ought to have known that the injury or harm was due to an act of negligence. The date of knowledge can be years after the negligent act, for instance, if an operation was performed negligently on a shoulder joint replacement and a patient was unaware of this, it may be years before the patient’s symptoms progress such as to necessitate medical attention. In such circumstances the patient could not have known that the original operation was performed negligently until the symptoms appeared and the time limit will therefore only run from the date of knowledge of such negligence – not when the operation was originally performed, which could be many years after the date of the original negligent act.
Time limits in clinical negligence matters can be complicated and you should seek legal advice immediately if you think you have a claim. Do not delay.
How is my compensation assessed?
We divide compensation into a number of headings:
How long will my case take?
Clinical negligence cases are complex with a high level of legal expertise required. Expert reports from doctors are necessary and depending on the nature and severity of the injury, rehabilitative/care consultants and accountants may be instructed and such reports can take some time to prepare. Straightforward cases may be settled within a year. More complex cases will normally take 2-4 years to conclude.
Can I get an interim payment of compensation before my case is settled?
Yes. Interim payments can be made in personal injury cases where there is an immediate need for financial assistance. The value of any such payment is deducted from the final figure awarded in compensation. Such payments are used in cases that can take some years to settle. They help families meet immediate financial demands and can pay for medical and other expert therapies as quickly as possible.
Will my case to go to court?
The vast majority of cases that have a reasonable prospect of success are settled and do not go to hearing. This is the case even where court proceedings have been commenced.
How can the Kearney Law Group help?
We appreciate that no amount of money can go anywhere near putting you back to the position you would have been in prior to the substandard clinical care. What we can do is provide as much financial and other assistance as is possible to alleviate the burden of your loss. We will ensure that you get the help you need now and into the future. Compensation will ensure you receive the best possible medical treatment, rehabilitation and care, both in the short and long term.
We are passionate about our work. We are easy to talk to and will keep you fully informed about the progress of your case. We are tech enabled and use software platforms to ensure your case is dealt with expeditiously and professionally. We are very experienced and have a team ready to deal with all aspects of your claim for clinical negligence.
We only do personal injury law and are experts at it.
The content of this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice. No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or arise between the Kearney Law Group and you and we refer you to our disclaimer on our website.
Kearney Law Group specialises in legal services relating to Personal Injury, Clinical Negligence, Historical Institutional Abuse and Mother and Baby Homes cases. We are committed to achieving the best results for our clients.
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