What Is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Clinical Negligence?

You might hear the phrases ‘clinical negligence’ and ‘medical negligence’ used seemingly interchangeably where breaches of care regarding medical treatment have been observed; but are they really the same thing?

At OH Parsons, we are experts in medical and clinical negligence and have decades of experience getting justice for people impacted by negligent medical professionals and healthcare providers. If you’ve suffered harm at the hands of a medical professional and are thinking about making a compensation claim but aren’t sure which term is applicable to your case, we can help.

In this blog, we’re going to explore clinical and medical negligence in more detail and explain more about the terminology to help you feel more assured about your next steps.

What is Medical Negligence?

The term medical negligence is the most often used of the two. Historically, it referred to negligence at the hands of doctors and their respective counterparts, and it had to have taken place in a GP surgery or a hospital. It referred to a doctor or similar professional performing negligent acts resulting in harm to a patient.

What is Clinical Negligence?

The term clinical negligence was introduced after medical negligence, to encompass other healthcare industries, such as dentists and opticians. It essentially expanded on the original definition of medical negligence to include every aspect of healthcare.

Is There a Difference Between Medical and Clinical Negligence?

In the modern day, there isn’t a practical difference between clinical and medical negligence. Prior legal landscapes posed a differentiation, but these days, the phrases are used interchangeably and mean essentially the same thing. You might find that certain lawyers or law firms prefer one term to the other, and some use both phrases to ensure all bases are covered, but from your point of view, there isn’t a difference that you need to worry about.

There are a handful of subsectors of medical and clinical negligence that are more specific, such as hospital negligence which refers specifically to a lapse of care within a hospital setting, but this is a subset of the broader umbrella phrasing and is still classed as medical negligence.

What is Meant by Clinical/Medical Negligence?

So, now we’re clear on the fact that there is, fundamentally, no practical difference between the two phrases, what exactly do they mean? Well, if you’ve been under the care of a medical professional in any context, and you’ve incurred an injury or illness due to negligence on their part, you have experienced clinical/medical negligence. You can make a claim for clinical negligence against anyone in the medical field who has a duty of care towards you, including:

  • GPs
  • Clinicians and specialists
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Midwives
  • Opticians
  • Osteopaths
  • Mental health professionals, e.g. psychologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Radiographers
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea as to the wide scope of clinical negligence and who may be liable for it.

The key to medical and clinical negligence is that if the member of staff responsible for looking after you adhered to their duty of care, you wouldn’t have incurred an otherwise avoidable issue. Some common types of medical negligence include:

  • Complications or injuries sustained during birth
  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnoses
  • Prescription errors
  • Incorrect treatment

If your condition worsened under the care of a medical professional, or if you incurred an avoidable injury or illness due to carelessness on their behalf, you are entitled to make a medical negligence claim. From the diagnosis stage right through to the treatment stage – if you experienced sub-par care resulting in harm, you can make a claim. This applies to both private healthcare providers and the NHS.

It’s important to note that medical negligence cases and medical malpractice are two different entities. Though both fall under the umbrella of negligence, and clinical negligence solicitors represent you in both, malpractice occurs when the healthcare professional knows the consequences of their negligent treatment, whereas negligence on its own refers more to unknowing mistakes where the consequences were not immediately apparent.

Making a Medical Negligence Claim

Making a clinical or medical negligence claim can be a complex process and might seem overwhelming. Medical providers will have a team of experienced lawyers specialising in medical negligence claims, and this is why you need to make sure you have a medical negligence solicitor to help you. Proving medical negligence can be tricky without the right guidance and evidence, but our team of medical negligence solicitors will help you gather all the information you need to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Typically speaking, to prove medical or clinical negligence, you need conclusive medical records, witness statements, and various other types of evidence to prove that injuries you sustained were a direct result of the care you received by a healthcare provider. We will need access to your medical records and may request an assessment by independent medical experts to assess your condition.

In the first instance, the medical provider will carry out their own internal investigation. If they conclude that they are not at fault and offer no settlement figure, we will move to negotiate. We will do all we can to settle out of court, but if needs be, we will represent you in court.

We operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This means if your medical negligence compensation claim is unsuccessful for whatever reason, you won’t be liable to cover legal costs. Making a claim against a medical professional can be daunting enough, without the worry of how to pay for legal costs should your case fail.

Medical and Clinical Negligence Claims at OH Parsons

If you think you might have a clinical negligence claim and need legal support, we can help. We have a team of experienced medical negligence lawyers who specialise in getting people who have been victims of clinical malpractice the compensation they’re entitled to. Based on your injuries and the level of care required and stress placed upon you, as well as any financial impacts you may have suffered as a consequence, we will strive to get you the maximum amount of financial compensation we can, so that you can cover all your necessary medical expenses and financial losses.

We have years of experience and have helped countless people hold medical professionals to account. We know that healthcare professionals, both private and in the NHS, do a fantastic job, but in the rare instances that they fail to meet the standard required and cause avoidable harm, they need to be held accountable. We can help you do that.

Get in touch with us today to arrange a free consultation with a clinical negligence solicitor to determine whether you could have a case and could claim compensation.



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