Gathering Evidence For A Medical Negligence Claim

Evidence in a Medical Negligence Situation

Gathering evidence in a timely fashion is important in any negligence claim, but never more so than when attempting to prove a case for medical negligence. Courts have historically been reluctant to make findings of negligence against medical professionals, and your case must be ironclad if you are going to succeed.

Records Of Your Treatment

The most obvious evidence which you will need to be able to succeed in your claim is documentation of what decisions were made about your treatment, when, and by whom. Without this, you will not be able to convince the court that the medical professional in question did not live up to the reasonable standard expected of him or her. Fortunately, since your medical records are about you directly, it should not be difficult to obtain them in most cases. You or your solicitor will need to send a signed authority of release to the hospital or practice concerned, asking for them to disclose your records. You will also need to let them know that you are contemplating a claim at this point, although this is not a reason for them to refuse disclosure.

If you do have difficulty obtaining records of your treatment, you will be able to make a ‘subject access request’ under the Data Protection Act 1988. Unless there is a very good reason for the hospital to refuse access to a particular record, they will be obliged to send you all relevant documents within 40 days. You may have to pay a small fee to cover the administrative cost of doing so. You are even able to apply for the record of treatment for a deceased relative, if you are considering claiming on behalf of their estate, although this is done under the Access to Medical Records Act 1990.

Your Medical Status

You are also likely to require access to your medical history, which will usually be held by your GP. If you have developed a new condition as a result of medical negligence, you will need to be able to prove that it was not already an underlying problem which had nothing to do with the negligent treatment. These records should be released to you without problem, but if there are issues you will also be able to use the Data Protection Act.

Along with such records about your past medical status, you will also need to establish your present condition, and the prognosis for the future. Whilst this can be done through examination of the records already held by your GP and hospital, it is generally advisable to gather additional evidence by using the services of a qualified medical expert. Your solicitor will have links to professionals who undertake this duty frequently, and you should expect to attend at least one medical examination conducted by them.

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