Make A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong – A Guide

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How To Make A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong And Claim Compensation

This guide will look at how to make a complaint about surgery gone wrong. If you have recently had surgery and it has not gone to plan, you may be curious as to whether you can make a complaint and find out why and how it went wrong. Depending on where you had your surgery may have a bearing on where you make your complaint to and which complaints procedure you follow: whether in an NHS hospital or private healthcare facility, this would generally determine what complaints procedure you would follow. This guide will take a look at who you could complain to and how to do this. 

The guide also covers the duty of care that is owed to you by the medical team overseeing your treatment. If you experienced unnecessary harm because a medical professional failed in this duty, you might be eligible to make a claim for medical negligence. 


A Guide To Making A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong

In addition, we look at the benefits of having a solicitor that works on a No Win No Fee basis if you would like to claim compensation. 

You can direct any queries about claiming for surgical negligence to our advisors:

Browse Our Guide

  1. How To Make A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong
  2. When Could I Take Legal Action For Surgery Going Wrong?
  3. Types Of Surgical Errors Which Could Happen
  4. What Compensation Could I Claim For Surgery Gone Wrong?
  5. Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis With A Medical Negligence Solicitor
  6. Guidance On How To Make A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong

How To Make A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong

You may wonder who you voice your complaint to. There are a few different regulatory bodies you could complain to. However, who you make the complaint to will depend on where the surgeon or treatment team who failed to provide you with the correct level of care are based.  

Examples of parties that you could complain to include:

  • Care Quality Commission (CQC). Although they don’t accept official complaints, any information brought to their attention can be used to improve services. 
  • General Medical Council (GMC). They can review and investigate concerns about a doctor. 
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. They provide an independent complaint-handling procedure for concerns that have not been resolved by the NHS in England. 
  • NHS Resolution. They provide expertise to the NHS on resolving concerns and disputes.

You also have the right to seek compensation if you have suffered unnecessary harm in a clinical setting due to a medical professional not providing you with the right standard of service. Please contact an advisor from our team for further information about how to make a complaint about surgery gone wrong or to find out if you could make a surgery negligence claim.

In the next section, we look at the claiming eligibility criteria. 

When Could I Take Legal Action For Surgery Going Wrong?

When a doctor or hospital agrees to treat you, they automatically owe you a duty of care. This duty means that a doctor should take reasonable care to investigate your medical history as well as your symptoms, make a proper diagnosis and referrals if needed and take all reasonable steps to procure the health of the patient, amongst other things. In order to make a claim for medical negligence, you must meet the eligibility criteria. You must be able to prove that:

  • A medical practitioner owed you a duty of care. 
  • They breached this duty.  
  • You suffered unnecessary harm because of the breach. 

When you are under the care of a medical professional, including a surgical team, they must provide a correct standard of care. If you suffer harm that could have been avoided due to a breach in this duty, you could be eligible for compensation. 

How Long After Surgery Going Wrong Could You Claim?

Claims for surgical negligence must be started before the medical negligence claims time limit expires. This is set by the Limitation Act 1980 as being usually 3 years from the date of the surgery. Alternatively, this could be 3 years from the date of knowledge. This is the date that you first realised, or would have been expected to realise, that the harm you experienced was caused by surgical negligence. 

In addition, exceptions to the time limit are applied in some circumstances. These include for:

  • Those lacking the mental capacity to bring forward their own claim will have the limitation period suspended indefinitely. This suspension lasts for as long as they are unable to bring forward proceedings themselves. While the time limit is suspended, a court-appointed litigation friend can make their claim. Should they regain the capacity to claim, they will have 3 years from recovery to start one if a litigation friend did not do so already. 
  • Children younger than 18 have a pause applied to the time limit lasting until they turn 18. This gives them 3 years from their 18th birthday to start a claim. However, before turning 18, a litigation friend can begin the claim for them. 

Types Of Surgical Errors Which Could Happen

There are different ways a medical practitioner could potentially breach their duty of care, causing you unnecessary harm. 

Here are some examples of surgical negligence:

  • A surgical error could lead to internal organs being perforated. 
  • Wrong-site surgical negligence could occur if the surgeon operates on the wrong body part. For example, if your left arm needed to be amputated and instead, your right arm was amputated. This is considered a ‘never event’.  
  • You may experience unnecessary surgery due to a misdiagnosis. For example, you could be diagnosed with the wrong condition when the right diagnosis would have meant surgery was not needed. The surgery could cause pain, discomfort and a scar. 
  • A post-surgery infection could occur if proper infection control measures are not in place. For example, if a nurse does not wash their hands. 

What Compensation Could I Claim For Surgery Gone Wrong?

If your surgical negligence claim is successful, your settlement may consist of two heads of claim: general and special damages. 

General damages compensate for the physical pain and mental suffering caused by medical negligence. To help when valuing medical negligence claims, legal professionals refer to a text that lists compensation brackets for different types of harm called the ‘Judicial College Guidelines’ (JCG). 

General Damages

Our table below looks at some of the compensation brackets from the JCG 16th edition. It is only to be used as a guide.  

Type of Harm Notes Compensation Bracket
Leg Amputation (ii) In these cases, both of the claimant’s legs have been amputated below the knee. The award considers the level of amputation. £201,490 to £270,100
Leg Amputation (iv) The claimant had one leg amputated below the knee. £97,980 to £132,990
One Arm Amputation (b) (i) The claimant has one arm amputated at the shoulder. Not less than £137,160
One Arm Amputation (b) (iii) The claimant has an amputation through their forearm. The award considers phantom pains. £96,160 to £109,650
Injury Resulting from Brain Damage – Moderate (ii) Ability to work greatly reduced due to moderate to severe intellectual deficit and risk of epilepsy. £90,720 to £150,110
Bowels (b) Dependence on colostomy due to loss of function. Up to £150,110
Bladder (b) Control and function lost. Up to £140,660
Kidney (b) Kidney function lost. Up to £63,980
Spleen (a) Risk of internal infections due to loss of spleen. £20,800 to £26,290
Scarring The claimant has a noticeable scar on their leg, hand, arm, back or chest. £7,830 to £22,730

Special Damages

In addition to general damages, your award might also consist of special damages. This head of claim reimburses the financial losses caused by medical negligence. To claim under this head, you should submit evidence, such as bank statements. 

Examples of what costs you could be reimbursed for include:

  • Your loss of earnings for time away from work to recover.  
  • Adaptations to your home. For example, if you require a wheelchair ramp to be installed. 
  • Medical expenses. This can include the costs of medical aids, such as a wheelchair as well as prescriptions and therapy. 

If you have any questions about how compensation could be awarded in medical negligence claims, please get in touch with an advisor from our team. 

Claim On A No Win No Fee Basis With A Medical Negligence Solicitor

If you wish to make a claim for surgical negligence, you could benefit from having the support of a solicitor. One of our medical negligence solicitors could support your claim. They have lots of experience with claims for medical negligence. 

Our solicitors will usually offer to work on your claim on a No Win No Fee basis under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

When your solicitor works under this type of agreement, they won’t charge upfront or ongoing fees for their work on your case. They also won’t ask for a payment for their services if your claim doesn’t succeed. 

If the outcome of your claim is positive, they will deduct a success fee from your compensation. The percentage that can be taken is limited by the law. 

If you would like to find out if you are eligible to claim compensation, please contact one of the advisors from our team. 

To talk to an advisor:

Guidance On How To Make A Complaint About Surgery Gone Wrong

Additional guides: 

If you need any other help with how to make a complaint about surgery gone wrong, the following links might help you further:

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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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