A leading legal firm is urging patients and their families who suspect they have fallen victim to a medical error to take professional advice from specialists in clinical negligence law.
According to Rebecca Councell, medical negligence solicitor at Heptonstalls Solicitors, many people talk themselves out of even discussing a medical negligence claim because they think their case is either too trivial or too difficult to prove.
“Many of our clients feel they may be wasting our time by seeking advice. However, what someone might accept an error to be part of the risk of a medical procedure might actually be something very serious,” she said. “And it could be that by raising their claim and highlighting what has happened, it could help prevent similar mistakes affecting other patients.”
“If anyone has a seed of doubt in their mind and think that some element of their treatment has gone wrong, they need to speak to us about it.
“Just having that initial chat – which doesn’t cost anything at all – can help clear their minds and help them realise that making a claim can be much more straightforward than they thought.”
According to Ms Councell, the key motivation among patients who go on to make a claim is often nothing to do with seeking financial recompense, and more related to ensuring errors are exposed and methods changed so they can’t happen again.
“Many of our clients come to us to primarily seek closure on what’s happened to them and to make sure that other patients aren’t exposed to the same kind of errors in future.
“There is often a misconception that you need lots of solid evidence and have witnesses in place before someone consults a solicitor about a potential claim. However, that’s not the case,” she added.
“People can’t be expected to be medical or legal experts. That’s why we are here. We can request their medical records and our in-house nurse can investigate them so we can begin to see what’s happened.
“Our role is to help people, not confuse them with medical or legal terms. Instead, we want to help make things right for them.”
Even if someone isn’t completely sure that they have even suffered from a medical error, it’s still worth consulting a lawyer, she added.
“One man came in having had a hip operation. He was told he had to go for corrective surgery and he wasn’t sure that was the normal procedure. It turned out that there had been negligence involved which only became clear when we made enquiries.”
“Something that could easily have been put down to ‘just one of those things’ turned out to be the result of someone doing something wrong.”
Heptonstalls, which has an expert team of solicitors with years of experience in medical negligence cases, runs a Wednesday drop-in service which is free of charge and provides a chance to chat in confidence with a solicitor about any medical negligence concerns.
“There’s no obligation and it’s free,” adds Ms Councell. “It’s a chance to come and speak to a solicitor with absolutely no pressure, and to find out if they have a case - all without having to turn up with pages of medical history, witnesses or papers.
“It’s as simple as popping in and having a chat. There’s really nothing to lose.”
The firm operates a ‘no win, no fee’ process, which takes the financial risk out of pursuing a medical negligence claim.
However, because there is a time limit on making a claim – three years from when the negligence occurred or from when problems related to it emerged – it’s worth taking steps sooner rather than later.
Heptonstalls Solicitors is an award-winning team that specialises in medical negligence and personal injury claims, as well as offering a range of typical legal services.
Speak to the legal team for free by calling 0800 917 8267, text LEGAL to 60060 or drop in to one of the free sessions every Wednesday. For more information, visit Heptonstalls’ offices in Goole and Pontefract or click here.