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Supporting doctors through the clinical negligence process

06 July 2020

The average medical professional will experience at least one clinical negligence claim over a typical career. If it happens to you, having the right support can make the experience a lot less daunting.

As a Medical Protection member, we can provide you with expertise and reassurance as we manage your case at every step.

This article will take you through how the claims process usually works and how we can be there for you. Not every claim follows the same process, but with most claims you can expect to go through the following stages.

Stage 1: Incident

It's vital you make us aware of an incident as soon as it occurs, as we may be able to prevent it from escalating to a claim.

Remember – a claim can still be brought up to two years after an incident, sometimes even longer.

Step 2: Complaint made

Often, a complaint will be made before you receive a claim. This can be a verbal or written complaint. A claim can even come from a complaint that you thought was already resolved.

Stage 3: Request for records

This request is typically made by a solicitor but can also come from the patient themselves or a representative. If you receive a request for patient records it usually signals an intention to investigate. Most never become claims, but we work to try to prevent things from escalating, so it's important to notify us right away.

Stage 4: Disclosure of records

At this stage, there are two possible outcomes: no further action or a letter of claim being made.

Stage 5: Letter of claim

On receiving a claim letter, you must contact us immediately, so we can deal with it on your behalf.

The more information you can provide, the quicker we can respond.

Stage 6: Our investigations

We get to work on your behalf. We're meticulous in investigating the claim. A letter of claim can be very brief. We will seek details of the allegations being made from the patient’s solicitors, together with any further clinical records required, to allow us to fully understand and investigate the claim.

Stage 7: We prepare a response

If required, we seek expert opinion on the allegations made and prepare a letter of response that either defends the claim or makes a settlement offer to the patient.

We ensure you are fully involved in this process and agree with the response being sent.

Our letter of response can lead to one of three outcomes:

  1. Claim defended and closedThe claim against you ends.
  2. Agree to settle the claimThe claim against you ends and we take care of the compensation and legal costs.
  3. Claim defended and pursuedEven at this stage most claims can be resolved without a court hearing.

If court proceedings are issued, you must let us know immediately, as there are strict deadlines involved. We are here to support you through this process and we never stop working to find a solution.

Practise with confidence

We know that being the subject of a claim can be distressing. That's why our expert team do everything they can to guide you through the process.

You also have access to our confidential counselling service to support you through stressful situations relating to your work or personal life that you feel could impact your practice.

Our primary concern at every step is to secure the best possible outcome for you, so you can get back to doing what you do best.