Case examples

Doctors tell us in their own words about the emotional impact of going through a clinical negligence claim.

Case example 1

We supported a consultant general surgeon member who faced a clinical negligence claim alleging that he failed to offer a patient surgical intervention. The member maintained that he discussed the treatment options with the patient. The claim went all the way to trial and the member gave evidence in his defence. The judge found in favour of the surgeon who commented:

The case hung over me for three and a half years and the experience of appearing in court, when it finally came, was stressful. I think it was a just outcome and it was also a very valuable educational experience. The process of examination and cross examination increased my understanding of how evidence can be made to look and the importance of careful documentation and communication.

I was very well supported by the MDU’s claims handler and legal team. The MDU team went the extra mile to maximise the chances of success. Regardless of the merits of the case, I can see that the outcome could easily have been different without good representation in court.

Thank you to the MDU for defending me all the way to court.

Case example 2

We defended a GP member in a clinical negligence claim in which the patient alleged the doctor should have realised a lung condition was due to the long term prescribing of an antibiotic.

The GP was backed by expert evidence that the potential complications of the treatment were not known at the time. When the case went to trial, it was quickly dismissed by the judge. The GP commented:

The claims process went on for more than four years and it was such a relief when it finally concluded. The whole process from the start of the claim until trial was such a time consuming, intense and stressful experience. I don’t think many colleagues, patients or others, realise how much is involved.

It is upsetting that somebody makes a claim accusing you of having been negligent in your care for your patient. As a caring professional, it affects you deeply.

Having to go through all this is enormously time consuming. It inevitably impacts on time spent on patient care and on colleagues who were left to cover.

My defence team and colleagues supported me throughout but the uncertainty of the outcome caused a lot of stress and anxiety. The fact that the judge dismissed the claim fairly quickly after the start of trial was an immense relief.

I want to thank the MDU for their support throughout. Having an MDU representative, who was also a doctor, was really helpful as she understood the pressures I was under.

Case example 3

We supported a member with a complaint and claim. The claim related to an alleged delayed referral in a patient with abnormal kidney function who later needed a kidney transplant. The member commented:

The MDU’s medico-legal advisers helped me to respond to the patient’s initial complaint. Later, when a claim was made, the claims handling team investigated the case and made recommendations. The whole process lasted two and half years and although it was stressful, knowing that the MDU were taking care of the process alleviated almost all the stress. In the end, I agreed to settle the claim and the MDU paid compensation to the patient on my behalf.

I would advise colleagues involved in a claim not to worry as you are in good hands with the MDU. Also, try to learn lessons from the events. For example, I learned that it is best to follow up with patients you have sent for an urgent blood test and not assume they will contact you with the results.