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Your guide to hospital A&E negligence

Hospital A&E sign

Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in NHS hospitals across England and Wales have come under increasing pressure as the population has grown and more people live longer.

With over 21 million attendances at A&E departments each year (NHS England), staff are increasingly at full stretch to maintain  proper standard of care  and occasionally mistakes are made

You may have a claim for negligence at a hospital A & E department -  if you have good reason to believe that, as a result of your experience, you or a family member did  not receive an appropriate standard of treatment resulting in

  • An injury or illness. A deterioration of  an existing injury or illness.

The reason why  - you may not have received an appropriate standard of care  because a doctor or nurse:

  • Made an inadequate assessment.
  • Delayed a diagnosis.
  • Gave the wrong medication.
  • Acted in error.
  • Failed to sufficiently monitor your condition.

Our dedicated clinical negligence team at Your Legal Friend has  specialist expertise in  many different types of clinical negligence cases.

Your Legal Friend can help you find out if :

  • You have not been given the duty of care you had the right to  expect
  • Whether you have suffered a worse outcome as a result
  • And if so, obtain l compensation for the injury or harm suffered

Recent visitor figures at A & E...

  • More than 420,000 visits to A&E departments across England in the first week of February 2015 – a rise of 13,000 on the week before.

-(NHS England, Feb 2015)

  • Over capacity at A&E increased by 8 per cent between 2010/11 and 2012/13.      

 - (QualityWatch, July 2014)

  • 18.3 million attendances, 2012/13, up from 17.6 million, 2011/12                         

- (Health & Social Care Information Centre - hscic,2014)                                                           

In 2012/13 ...

  • 13.8 per cent (2.5 million) of all attendances were recorded as 'Diagnosis not classifiable'.
  • 93.9 per cent (17.2 million) of all attendances were recorded as a valid treatment. 34.4 per cent (6.3 million) of all attendances had a recorded treatment of 'guidance/advice only'.
  • 59.0 per cent (10.8 million) of all attendances were discharged ('GP follow-up required' or 'no follow-up required') and 20.8 per cent (3.8 million) of all attendances were admitted to hospital.

(Health & Social Care Information Centre - hscic,2014)

Patient experience in A&E...

  • 7.4 per cent of patients (more than 414,000) spent longer than 4 hours in A&E.
  • More than 90,500 patients waited in A&E departments for a hospital bed longer than four hours after admission had been granted.                                                   

(The Kings Fund, 2014/15)

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) survey of almost 40,000 adults who attended NHS hospital A&E departments, Jan- Feb 2014, reports:

  • Nearly eight in ten of patients said they had been treated with dignity and respect.
  • More than one in five patients said they had not been treated with dignity and respect.
  • Wide variations in experiences between different NHS trusts, patients and groups of patients.

Waiting times

While feedback on discharge procedures was also mostly positive, it was also found that patients arriving at A&E:

  • Waited for lengthy periods in an ambulance before having their care transferred to A&E staff.
  • Waited too long to be given adequate pain relief.

What are the common types of claims for clinical negligence in A&E?

The most common error made in A&E is a failure to:

  • Diagnose and treat a fracture - because scans were not taken or were interpreted incorrectly.

Standards of care may also be considered as unacceptable  for the following reasons:

Failure to:

  • Assess patients promptly due to long waiting times.
  • Perform and/or correctly interpret diagnostic blood tests.
  • Order X rays or scans and/or to interpret them wrongly.
  • Recognise when someone is likely to harm themselves.
  • Identify the seriousness of a condition and make the wrong diagnosis.
  • Promptly arrange referrals to hospital departments, senior doctors or to inform GP’s regarding the patients visit to A&E.
  • Diagnose conditions such as fractures or ligament damage, various wounds, heart failure or strokes, appendicitis, deep vein thrombosis, haemorrhages, nerve injuries, spinal cord injuries etc.
  • Provide correct treatment, such as medication, antibiotic injections, pain relief, correct fracture support, head and neck injury support.
  • Prevent a condition from progressing to a more serious stage, especially where timing is critical or in an emergency.
  • Diagnose conditions requiring urgent care, such as ectopic pregnancy, pancreatitis, meningitis, septicaemia, aneurysms and stroke.
  • Prevent patients sustaining injuries while being moved.
  • Prevent a patient falling out of bed when being moved or in the ward.
  • Prevent a delay in treatment leading to deterioration in the patient’s condition.
  • Adequately clean or dress wounds or foreign bodies left in wounds.
  • Detect a heart attack.
  • Respond to children complaining that they feel unwell.
  • Carry out adequate examinations, tests, and scans prior to discharging patients.
  • Retain a patient who is discharged prematurely.

How Your Legal Friend can help you..

The consequences of long waiting times, lack of an available bed, errors and delays in A&E can have a direct, harmful  impact upon the health of a patient with possible long-term injuries, impairments and disabilities.

As experienced clinical negligence specialists, our task is to ensure:

  • Your case will be properly heard.
  • A full explanation for what happened is received, and
  • Financial resources for the care and treatment needed are provided.

Your Legal Friend is committed to ensuring victims of clinical negligence obtain answers for what went wrong and receive the  compensation they need to cover :

  • Loss of earnings and pension.
  • Care Costs
  • Medical and rehabilitation costs.
  • Travel expenses
  • Necessary adaptation to accommodation
  • Equipment to improve independence
  • Other financial losses.