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What impact can clinical negligence have on your patient and medical career?

man in white button up shirt holding black tablet computerMedical professionals are expected to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. If they fall below this standard and cause harm to a patient, they may have to defend themselves in a medical negligence claim.

The consequences of this can sometimes be subtle and hidden, although they’re no less debilitating. But exactly what kind of damage can be inflicted through medical negligence?

Impact on the patient

Understandably, the victim of medical negligence is the one who suffers the most significant harm, which can manifest in several ways.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In some cases, medical negligence can trigger an acute one-off stress event and later lead to lasting PTSD. This is often a consequence of a failure of anaesthetic, which leaves the patient conscious while an operation is being performed.

Some mental health problems that result from clinical negligence can be more subtle and might appear as more general anxiety, which can be difficult to pinpoint.

Lifelong physical issues

If your patient is left permanently debilitated, they’ll be unable to lead the quality of life they would have enjoyed had it not been for the intervention of the medical professional.

Patients could be wheelchair-bound after the wrong drug being prescribed, or they could be left with severe side effects from a disease that wasn’t properly diagnosed.

Financial problems

The financial cost of medical negligence can be significant. A patient might be unable to continue their previous occupation, particularly if the job they were doing was physically demanding.

They might also find their earnings potential limited by the need to receive further medical treatment. It might be that a corrective treatment isn’t available through the NHS, which will lead to further expense. Smaller one-off costs, like that of travel and hospital parking, should also be factored in.

Impact on the medical professional

If a doctor, nurse or medical organisation is found guilty of medical negligence, the professional consequences can be serious.

Reputational damage

If it’s widely known that a particular professional has been found guilty of medical negligence, they might have difficulty attracting patients in the future. It could also make it harder to change jobs if potential employers are aware of this history.

Loss of confidence

It isn’t just the general public who might lose faith in the professional’s abilities; they might also suffer self-doubt. While mistakes might be made by members of other professions, those errors rarely have such a huge impact on the lives of others.

They might suffer a loss of faith in their abilities, which will hamper their ability to make diagnoses, prescribe treatments, and project the air of confidence needed to reassure future patients.