What Are the Grounds for Medical Negligence and What Does It Cover?

Medical negligence is something most people in the UK won’t have to deal with due to the excellent standards of care upheld by both the public and private healthcare sectors, but unfortunately, mistakes happen – and these errors sometimes amount to medical negligence.

Also referred to as clinical negligence, medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional doesn’t provide a high standard of care to a patient, resulting in avoidable harm. The scope of medical negligence is wide, making it difficult for patients who may have experienced medical negligence to know whether they have a case. 

At OH Parsons, we are experts in the field of medical negligence compensation claims. Our team of clinical negligence lawyers have decades of experience in helping patients hold negligent medical professionals to account. Our team of solicitors are regarded as leaders in this area of law, making us best placed to outline the grounds for medical negligence and represent those who have suffered it. In this article, we’re going to detail everything you need to know about medical malpractice, giving you a clear idea of whether you could make a clinical negligence claim.

What areas of healthcare do medical negligence laws cover?

Medical negligence laws in the UK protect patients across every aspect of the healthcare sector. Many people assume it’s just GPs and surgeons who can commit clinical negligence, but this isn’t the case. Wherever you are and whoever is responsible for your medical care, medical negligence laws apply. To give you a better idea of the healthcare professionals who can be held responsible for negligent treatment, here is a helpful list:

  • GPs
  • Dentists
  • Midwives
  • Surgeons
  • Radiographers
  • Osteopaths
  • Nurses
  • Doctors/consultants

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good idea of the range of medical professionals who may be negligent and provide sub-par care.

What are the grounds for medical negligence?

Now we’re clear on who is responsible for medical negligence, it’s time to look at what the grounds for medical negligence are. As a basic level, medical negligence cases occur when a medical professional who owes you a duty of care either accidentally or purposefully commits a negligent act. This can be almost anything, but for it to count as medical negligence, the act of negligence needs to have caused harm that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

For example, if you’re operated on and the conditions are non sterile, and you go on to contract an infection due to bacteria from the operating room, this counts as medical negligence because the standard of care that is expected was not met. In contrast, if you contract an infection post-surgery that is not related to the conditions the surgery took place in, this may not be medical negligence because infections are a risk of surgery, as outlined prior to every operation being carried out.

What are the types of medical negligence?

To give you a better idea of what counts as medical negligence, here are some more examples of common cases.


Misdiagnosis counts as medical negligence. If you received the wrong diagnosis, were given the wrong course of treatment as a result of the misdiagnosis, or weren’t diagnosed at all, you may have suffered avoidable harm, pain, and discomfort.

Surgery issues

Surgical errors are those that are mostly associated with medical negligence. Every surgery carries a risk, but some risks can be avoided with the correct level of care. If this isn’t exhibited, issues can arise, such as:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong part of the body
  • Leaving a foreign object inside a patient
  • Post-operative infections as a result of poor hygiene
  • Performing the wrong type of surgery
  • Perforating organs

Medication issues

Being given the wrong type or dosage of medication can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. If you were incorrectly prescribed medication, given the wrong dosage, or prescribed medication that you’re known to be allergic to or that shouldn’t be taken alongside other medication you’re taking, this could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

Birth issues

One of the more common subjects of medical negligence claims are birth issues. If a mother or baby has been harmed during pregnancy, labour, or postnatally as a result of negligence from medical professionals, there is a basis for a medical negligence claim. Whether this relates to a birth defect being missed or not reported to the parents, or injuries sustained during labour and delivery to either the mother or the baby, there could be a viable birth injury claim.


The toll scarring and disfigurement can have on a person’s wellbeing and mental health can be far-reaching, which is why if you’ve been left with scarring or disfigurement that is unnecessary and not proportionate to the procedure at hand, you could make a clinical negligence compensation claim.

Mental health

It’s important to note that medical negligence claims don’t just pertain to physical health; if you’ve been under the care of a mental health professional and received subpar care resulting in harm to either your mental or physical health, you have grounds to open a clinical negligence case.

Rules surrounding medical negligence claims

It’s not quite as easy as just making a medical negligence claim – there are rules surrounding how it works. Firstly, you need to be able to prove that a medical professional (or a hospital/healthcare facility) owed you a duty of care. This means you need to have been under the care of the person or organisation you’re making the claim against.

Next, you need to be able to prove that, had the negligence not occurred, you wouldn’t have sustained any harm. For example, if a doctor used the same needle on you twice and the second time, you experienced pain or contracted an infection, it can easily be deduced that the harm you endured was as a result of the same needle being used. On the other hand, if correct protocols were followed and you contracted an infection that can’t be linked to the care received, proof can’t easily be determined.

Thirdly, if you’re bringing forward a medical negligence case, you need to make sure you do so within three years of the injury or illness becoming apparent. This means, if you were aware of an issue that was potentially caused through medical negligence at the hands of a medical professional or a healthcare provider as a whole, you have to open up a case with a medical negligence solicitor within three years of it becoming apparent.

Making a medical negligence claim with OH Parsons

If you think you’ve been a victim of medical negligence and three years haven’t elapsed since you became aware of your injury or illness, get in touch with our team today. Our medical negligence solicitors can explain more to you about the grounds of medical negligence claims and whether you might be able to make a successful claim based on your medical records, as well as more about our no win, no fee service. We can help with dental negligence claims, hospital negligence claims, gp negligence claims and more.



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