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How Much Compensation Can I Claim For A Surgical Error?

By Daniel Archer. Last updated 28th April 2022. Welcome to our guide on surgical error claims. Surgeries and operations are rarely carried out without risk. There are few simple surgical procedures, if any, and they can be both invasive and difficult. This is because even the most routine operations will require the patient to entrust their life to the surgeons involved. From the minor accidents to the biggest errors – described by the NHS as ‘never events’ – the lasting implications of a surgery error can be huge.

Whether it is the eyes, nose, stomach, legs, mouth, eye, head or back, surgery (and thus the attendant risk of error) can be carried out on almost all parts of the body. There are health conditions that can only be corrected through surgery. As such, surgical operations may be entirely unavoidable.

Though major surgical errors are not common, they do happen. If you have been involved in a procedure in which an operation went wrong, you may be interested in mounting a legal claim. Unfortunately, surgical negligence cases can be complicated. You may require professional assistance. When seeking compensation for surgical errors, hiring the right law firm can make all the difference. With the aid of this guide, you may discover just how easy that process can be.

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A Guide to Surgical Error Claim

Surgical Error Compensation

Surgical Error Compensation

As mentioned above, surgical operations are far from risk-free. Regardless of whether it is a minor or major operation, there is always an element of risk involved. This is true even in the most routine procedures. If an operation went wrong, the effects can be devastating. It can lead to irreversible or life-altering effects for the patient. In situations like these, claiming compensation may be possible.

This guide is written to help people understand the compensation claim process. This includes establishing a baseline of knowledge about the claims process, as well as information on how you begin a compensation claim for a surgical error.

In the guide, we will discuss the definitions of surgical errors and the different types of surgical error claims. In addition, we will examine the course of action an individual should take in a situation where they are the victim of a surgical error.

By the end of this guide, you should be able to know what damages (and how much) can be claimed and the time it takes to claim compensation. We’ll also look at what is needed to begin the claim and how our ‘No Win No Fee’ policy could help. Get in touch about how to claim.

What is a Surgical Error Claim?

A surgical error claim is a claim for medical negligence. It occurs when an operation has not been entirely successful and a mistake has been made. The error can occur during or after the surgery. If the error leads to a health concern or injury on the part of the patient, the patient can then make a claim for compensation. This will provide them with a financial settlement, covering their damages and expenses.

Even though surgery is an area of medical practice that is regarded as highly skilled, there is always some degree of risk associated with every surgery. Despite the high medical standards in the UK, it is nearly impossible to completely guard against accidents. But when an error is made, the patient has a right to compensation. They are able to make a surgical error claim, receiving hospital negligence claims payouts of varying amounts, depending on their case.

There are many issues that could arise during surgery. Surgical errors include any of the following:

  • Leaving surgical equipment inside the body of a patient.
  • Performing the wrong surgery on a patient.
  • Carrying out an operation on the wrong body part.
  • Causing an injury to other, unrelated body parts during an operation.
  • Failing to complete a surgical procedure.
  • Causing an infection in the patient’s body.

The specific circumstances surrounding each claim will be different. It will be important to note that the issue of negligence will be discussed and the claim will have to prove this on the part of the defendant. We will examine the process below.

Are Surgical Errors Common?

According to NHS data, there were 502 ‘serious incidents’ reported involving surgery in their hospitals during the period of April 2019 to March 2020. Among these incidents, 472 met the definition of a never event. Though this represents a very small percentage of all the surgeries carried out in the UK during this time period, the cases in which an error does occur can be devastating. Added to that, minor errors (those less severe than ‘never events’) are more difficult to measure. Though not common, surgical errors are nevertheless incredibly serious.

In cases involving surgical errors, medical negligence compensations can vary depending on the severity of the error. Cases resulting in death, long term health damage, and amputation, for instance, are not numerous but can lead to the highest compensation settlements. The most common errors can be relatively benign, including leaving a surgical or foreign object (like towel or sponge) in the patient’s body. This can be resolved if discovered, but the implications and the health issues can still be deserving of compensation.

Though surgical negligence cases may not be as common as other forms of compensation claim, they remain serious. Additionally, they can become complicated very quickly. This is why expert legal advice can be so useful.

Common Reasons for Surgical Errors

Surgeons and doctors are among the most highly trained, highly educated professionals in our society. Despite this, they are not immune to mistakes. Surgical errors are one of the more serious mistakes they can make. Typically, such errors can be the result of the following reasons:

  • Incompetence: A situation where the surgeon lacks the skills to carry out the surgery successfully.
  • Lack of Preoperative Planning: Initial preparation is very important. Failure to do so can lead to errors.
  • Poor Communication: If there is a breakdown in communication during the surgery, errors are likely to occur.
  • Fatigue: This is a serious issue as surgeons can be forced to work long hours each day.
  • Neglect: A situation where surgeons become unnecessarily complacent when carrying out an operation.

In addition to single factors, errors can occur as the result of a combination of issues. In evaluating your case, we will help you determine what went wrong and how the error occurred.

What Different Reasons for a Surgical Error Claims are There?

Operations can be incredibly complex procedures and there are many different reasons why an error might occur. No two surgeries are identical, so every surgical error will likely be unique. Providing a single surgical negligence definition can be impossible as a result, though there are a few common mistakes. These can include (but are not limited to):

  • Complication Caused by Surgical Procedures: Surgery is a heavily regulated industry and professional qualifications take years to acquire. Mistakes happen: surgeons may forget the processes and errors can be made in recommending surgeries. In complicated situations, complications can be inevitable.
  • Anaesthesia Mistakes: No two patients are the same, which can make the type and quantity of anaesthesia applied to the body difficult to judge. Incorrectly administering anaesthesia during a surgical procedure can lead to a surgical error claim.
  • General Misdiagnosis: Diagnosing an illness incorrectly can lead to a surgery being performed that should not have been carried out. This could lead to further health issues or even new injuries.
  • Cosmetic Procedure Errors: Cosmetic surgeries are increasingly common and this has increased cosmetic procedure errors. Performing cosmetic surgery incorrectly can lead to injury and other health issues.
  • Care Negligence: These are injuries sustained due to badly administered care for patients in places like a nursing home following a surgical procedure.

As evidenced by the above list, there is not one common denominator in surgical errors. Likewise, it is not only the surgeon who can make an error. Determining the cause of the issue will be a big part of settling a compensation claim.

Are There Different Types of Surgical Error Claims?

There are different types of surgical error claims. They usually fall in line with the four main categorisations of medical negligence. These four categories are:

  • Contributory Negligence: This is a type of claim in which it is determined that the victim is partially responsible for the medical issue. Their actions (or failure to act) may have contributed to the issue. In this category, it is likely that damages or compensation will not be paid.
  • Comparative Negligence: This is a type of claim in which the victim shares the blame for the health concern following a surgical error. Often, these errors will require a court case to determine the balance of blame between the health care professional and the victim of the injury. Compensation may be awarded on this basis.
  • Vicarious Liability: This is the category in which compensation is claimed against the organisation that manages the surgeon and operates the hospital. It could include seeking compensation against a private hospital that employed a surgeon rather than the individual surgeon.
  • Gross Negligence: Of all the categories listed above, this is the most serious. This category includes negligence cases in which there has been a total disregard of the patient’s health by the medical practitioner. It is important to note that medical practitioners have a duty of ensuring that the health of their patients is a high priority. However, in a negligence case, it is possible that the medical practitioner disregarded the patient’s health. This will almost inevitably involve a court case in which the medical practitioner loses their licence if found to be negligent.

Trying to fit your claim into one of these categories might seem difficult. In our free consultancy session, we can advise as to which category your claim belongs.

What to Do If You Have Been a Victim of Surgical Error

Surgical error claims

Surgical error claims

If you have been the victim of surgical error, you can better ensure a successful compensation claim by taking a few steps.

The first of these steps is to gather as much evidence as you can relating to the surgery. This can include doctor’s notes, hospital admissions records, and any other paperwork. Once you have gathered this together, you should speak with a solicitor who is a specialist in medical malpractice. In doing so, you can take advantage of their expertise and start putting together a compensation claim. The complexity and the bureaucracy of such a claim can make it incredibly difficult for the non-professional to handle.

What is a Surgical Error Claim Time Limit?

It is important to note that surgical error claims are not open-ended. This means that there is a time limit on your claim. The time limit of the claim is three years after the actual surgical error or three years from the date the error was discovered. This is true in cases in which the claimant is an adult above the age of 18. If the claimant is below this age, they have until the age of 21 to make a claim. This is considered to be three years following the day on which they turned 18.

Claiming for Surgical Error for Another Person

It is possible to claim compensation for a surgical error on behalf of another person. For example, if your family member is a victim and is unable to claim compensation for any reason, you can make the claim on their behalf. An example could be a family member who has lost their life due to a surgical error committed by the health care professional. In this case, a spouse, parent, or civil partner can make a compensation claim. A solicitor will be able to work help you navigate the legal issues surrounding such a claim.

How to Begin a Surgical Error Claim

One of the most difficult steps in claiming compensation can be the first one. Getting started is hard, especially if you have no experience. This is why we advise potential clients to take advantage of our free legal consultation.

If you believe you have a compensation claim involving a surgical error, we can arrange for you to discuss the matter with one of our experts. This is a free consultation and it can be booked with a phone call or a visit to our website.

After this meeting is concluded, you will have a better idea of the way to take your claim forward. If we believe you have a legitimate claim, we can offer our services on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis. In addition to this, we can arrange for you to visit a local doctor in order to fully assess your health concerns. We can conduct further fact-finding and evidence gathering. And we can take care of the administrative side of the process. With the right legal assistance, the claims process is much simpler.

Tips on surgery compensation claims

If you’ve been injured due to avoidable surgical errors, then this could be an example of surgical negligence or medical negligence. Medical professionals are expected to uphold the correct standard of care. If they fail to do so causing you to sustain further or avoidable harm, you may be eligible to seek compensation.

Part of the process of making surgical negligence claims is to inform those in charge of the facility where you were injured that you intend to make a claim for compensation.

During this stage, it’s possible that they could admit liability and offer you a settlement fee. However, you aren’t required to accept the first offer you receive for harm you sustained following operations that have gone wrong. If you hire a solicitor to represent your case, they can provide advice before you accept an offer. Our solicitors have experience handling medical negligence claims and if they represent your case could take you through the process step by step.

Gathering evidence is also a very important part of the claims. It’s vital to acquire as much proof as possible to help support your claim. One of our solicitors can assist you with this. For instance, they can arrange for you to attend an independent medical assessment that’s local to you. This is done to assess the severity of your injuries and provide an updated report on the current state of your condition.

The resulting report can be presented to aid in calculating how much your claim could be worth. Get in touch with us today for more information on what else can be used as evidence in a claim such as this. Also, you can find out more about the services our solicitors offer.

What Can be Claimed for Due to Surgical Error?

The compensation totals you can claim in your case will be determined through a combination of a number of different factors. Rather than a single sum relating to the severity of your issue, the following damages can also be claimed:

  • General Damages: This compensates the pain and suffering which is difficult to quantify in monetary terms. For example, the physical pain, the loss of mobility, and the mental anguish which follow a surgical error can be compensated.
  • Care Claim: This applies if you have needed help around the house, allowing you to claim for the cost of a nurse or carer.
  • Loss of Earnings: Surgical errors prevent you from working and can cause a loss of earnings both at present and in the future.
  • Travel Expenses: These expenses include your travel to various medical appointments, such as petrol costs or train fares.
  • Medical Expenses: the myriad health issues which can arise from surgical errors may require you to undergo physiotherapy or private treatment. These costs can be recovered.

As mentioned above, your final settlement total will depend on various factors specific to your case.

How Much Compensation will I get for a Surgical Error Claim?

The sheer number of different types of surgery and the body parts affected mean that there is no one answer for those who wish to know how much their compensation might total. However, it is possible to use a negligence compensation calculator to provide a rough estimate. The table we have included below features a selection of injuries, their severity, their symptoms, and the amount of money they are awarded. Though your case will almost certainly be different, it can be useful as a rough estimation.

Neck InjurySevere£42,680 to in the region of £139,210
Neck InjuryModerate£7,410 to £36,120
Neck InjuryMinorFrom around £2,300 to £7,410
Brain or Head InjuryVery Severe£264,650 to £379,100
Brain or Head InjuryModerately Severe£205,580 to £264,650
Brain or Head InjuryLess Severe£14,380 to £40,410
Face Injury - ScarringVery Severe£27,940 to £91,350
Face Injury - ScarringLess Severe£16,860 to £45,440
Face Injury - ScarringLess Significant£3,710 to £12,900

The compensation brackets featured in the table above are based on the most recent Judicial College guidelines. Solicitors may use these guidelines to work out the value of your injuries during a compensation claim for a surgical error.

How Long Does a Surgical Error Claim Take?

Every surgical error claim is different and, as such, a strict timetable cannot be applied generically. However, it can take years to complete because many factors are involved and all parties will need to present a strong case. On average, we find that medical compensation claims can take eight months to complete.

NHS Surgical Compensation Claims

For clients who have hired a legal professional, there is actually no significant difference between compensations claims if the operation was performed in a private hospital or an NHS hospital. On a technical level, the organisation which handles NHS related claims will do so for every public hospital. This is the NHS Litigation Authority NHSLA. In 2015, the NHSLA paid out roughly £1.5 billion to patients who suffered from surgical errors and other issues. For private hospitals, there will be a dedicated team of legal representatives, whose identity depends on the hospital in question.

No Win No Fee Surgical Error Claims

One of the trickiest aspects of filing a compensation claim can be finding the finances. The majority of law firms will demand high fees in order to represent you. If you are suffering from an injury, this can be an issue. Having to take time away from work and cover medical expenses (among others) can leave you concerned about your cash flow. In these situations, hiring legal help might seem impossible.

Thankfully, we have an alternative. We can provide a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement for our clients. Rather than making you pay upfront, we will simply take our costs out of the final compensation amount. Furthermore, we only charge you if the case is successful. You don’t have to worry about racking up huge fees, you can simply relax and recover from your injury.

Why Should You Choose Us as Your Claims Service for a Surgical Error Claim?

Surgical error claims are complex compensation cases that require expertise and experience. If you are considering a claim, you want the best legal representatives working on your behalf.

We have the experience and expertise needed to pursue compensation claims on your behalf. Our customer service is second to none. With a free legal consultation, our ability to arrange local medical assessments, and our ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement, it’s clear why we’re the best choice for you.

If you would like to find out more about why we’re the ideal choice to represent your claim, just get in touch today.

Call for Free Advice and To Start a Claim

Making a compensation claim following a surgical error should not be difficult. If you have suffered as the result of healthcare errors or negligence, we may be able to get you the compensation you deserve. To find out more, you can either call 0800 073 8804 or send us your contact details through our website. We’ll make arrangements for your free consultation session. Contact us now and discover how our team can help you.

Helpful Links

Feedback and complaints about the NHS in England

This link provides you with information on how to file a NHS complaint. We can also help you to file a complaint when making a No Win No Fee claim contact us for free legal advice.

Medical Negligence Compensation Claim Amounts

If you think you might have a medical negligence claim contact us today to find out how much compensation you can claim.

Other Helpful Guides

Surgical Error Claims FAQ

In this final section of our guide on claims for surgical errors, we’ve answered some popularly asked questions related to this subject.

Can you claim if an operation goes wrong?

If an issue during an operation causes you harm, then you may be entitled to claim compensation for this. In order to do so, you will need to show evidence that an error during the operation harmed you and this error was caused by negligent behaviour by at least one medical professional involved in the operation.

What is a surgical error?

The term surgical error refers to any preventable mistake which is made during a surgical procedure.

What is surgical negligence?

The term surgical negligence refers to instances where a medical professional involved in a surgical procedure takes action or inaction which causes the patient harm and could have realistically been avoided.

Thank you for reading our guide about surgical error claims.

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