Could More Frequent Sharing Of Medical Records Reduce Medical Negligence Claims?
Posted on 27th March 2020
It’s a situation nobody wants to be in, wondering if their medical practitioner has done the right thing, or if their care has fallen short. Could more have been done, or were all the options covered? MG Legal, your medical negligence solicitor Garstang, is here for you if you find yourself in this unenviable situation. We are aware that, as often as not, making a claim is not about the money, but about having someone hold their hands up and say “sorry” or admit that there was a failing. An award for damages is, of course, welcome and is the means by which settlement is achieved in these matters.
What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence generally falls into one or both of the following categories:-
1. The standard of care fell below that of a reasonably competent body of similarly qualified medical opinion, in other words, 51% of more of similarly qualified practitioners would have acted differently.
2. Insufficient information was given to the patient for them to make an informed decision about their treatment.
The above two criteria arise from two cases, the first from the 1957 case of Bolan v Friern Hospital Management Committee and in common parlance is often referred to as the “Bolam Test”, the second from a much more recent case, in 2015, Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board. They are generally the precedents referred to in most medical negligence cases.
How would more open records help?
Technology has developed rapidly over the past decade, from clunky WAP phones that would just about ‘google’ the football scores, through Blackberrys and quickly into the Androids and iPhones that have computing power not even seen in desktop computers only a few years prior.
One suggestion is to use Blockchain technology to make medical records more accessible to patients during their treatment. This technology would allow patients to see their treatment plan in almost live versions, as they were stored to the records database.
The case of Montgomery arose from issues during the delivery of a baby and whilst this is very much an immediate process, the majority of treatments are carried out following a number of assessments and usually after a wait of anything from a few days to several months. If a patient could, at their leisure, review their notes, this would enable them to consider the advice over a longer time, perhaps even carry out their own research and pose questions to the treating practitioner in advance of the treatment commencing.
This would also potentially assist with issues arising under Bolam, where potentially the care has not been up to the required standard. MG Legal, your medical negligence solicitor Garstang, are often approached by clients who have had a certain diagnosis or treatment, particularly in respect of fractures and surgical procedures. Often, a missed or incorrect diagnosis in itself does not cause damage or injury, it is the gap between the incorrect diagnosis or treatment and putting things right that causes the injury, imagine a misdiagnosed fracture; if it was put right and re-set in plaster within a day or so, the healing could be corrected. The issues come when a fracture is missed, or mistreated and subsequently sets badly, leaving a deficit of movement.
Only you truly know your body
A doctor is a qualified medical practitioner, as are nurses, radiologists and psychotherapists to name a few. They are, generally, very good at getting the diagnosis right based on what you tell them and what they can see using medical technology. However, only you truly know how something feels and if something is hurting more than it should, if it does not feel like it is ‘sitting right’ or if pain is not subsiding as expected.
Having access to your medical records, to both refresh your memory as to what the practitioner said and to compare this to what you think is hurting, bringing the issue to their attention within a day or two, could minimize or even prevent any injury developing.
Causation, the defining factor in medical negligence
This potential solution being able to review your records personally would not prevent negligence occurring. What it would do is allow a greater chance to rectify the problem before any injury is causes.
Causation is the legal term for the defining link between an act of negligence and an injury. With medical negligence, often the problem is not that we are healthy and then made unhealthy by the negligence, such as would be the case in, say, a tripping incident in the street. The problem is that we are, in some way, injured and the act of negligence makes it worse, or makes the recovery time longer.
If the negligence was spotted very early and put right, there would still be negligence but, save for the nuisance of returning to hospital or your doctor, it would not cause an injury and so, whilst you would be perfectly entitled to grumble about the inconvenience and that you have put the practitioner right, you would make the expected recovery, rather than having to pursue a claim for compensation for injuries. The former is, surely, preferable for everyone concerned.
How do I know if I have a medical negligence claim?
Often, until your full medical records can be obtained and reviewed by an experienced medical negligence specialist like MG Legal, your medical negligence solicitor Garstang, you can’t always be sure.
This is why we recommend that you seek legal advice at an early stage, to ensure that the issue can be investigated and a formal Letter of Claim presented to the medical practitioner, private healthcare company, GP’s surgery or NHS Trust.
How do I make a claim?
Simply contact MG Legal, your medical negligence solicitor Garstang, to discuss the matter with one of our specialists. We aim to accept all medical negligence claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee) basis and we ensure that a confidential, personable and professional service is provided to all of our clients during what we appreciate is a stressful time.
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