Patients must be more ready to question doctors and hospital staff after the Keogh investigation revealed thousands of needless deaths in NHS hospitals, say Coles Miller solicitors for medical negligence.
Coles Miller Solicitors in Dorset are urging patients and relatives to research symptoms more thoroughly, to ask more questions and to document the responses they get from the healthcare professionals.
Fourteen UK hospital trusts were identified in the Keogh report as having higher than average mortality rates from 2010-12.
Between 2005 and 2012 there were more deaths than would normally have been expected under the national average, the report said.
Coles Miller Partner David Simpson said: “People will be very concerned by the Keogh findings with regard to mortality rates in the NHS.
“Many will be asking themselves how widespread the problem is and whether there are any further underlying problems which have yet to be revealed.
“What about the patients who were injured through clinical negligence and survived?” asked Mr Simpson, a Senior Litigator who leads the firm’s Clinical Negligence Department.
In addition to the Keogh report, there has also been an investigation into increased death rates at hospitals at weekends.
On July 14 the Sunday Times published an investigation which showed that during 2011-12, 129 of 146 NHS trusts in England had higher mortality rates at weekends.
Coles Miller advises patients and their relatives to be vigilant for any warning signs of potential problems with healthcare provision and to document them:
Are locum doctors being used excessively to fill gaps in normal healthcare provision?
Do the consultants seem overly “high and mighty”, so much so that their colleagues are afraid to challenge their judgment?
On the day of the surgery, was there any sudden and unexpected changes? Was the operation carried out by a different consultant to the one who had been treating the patient up until then?
Has the patient been seen lots of different members of hospital staff? Seldom or never the same person twice?
Do the healthcare staff treating the patient have poor communication skills?
Mr Simpson said: “People are generally trusting. They trust the medical profession but they don’t ask enough questions.
“If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong then you need to ask questions. Don’t grin and bear it. Speak up.
“Note down what is said by whom and when, who was standing there when it was said - and the exact words if possible,” said Mr Simpson.
Keeping a detailed diary could have a significant bearing on any future claims for medical compensation, he added.
Under the law, doctors did not have to be ‘perfect’ but they did have to meet an acceptable standard when judged by a responsible body of medical opinion in that particular field of expertise. This was the legal test for medical negligence claims, said Mr Simpson.
Coles Miller acts on behalf of the victims of clinical negligence from all over the UK. The firm is currently looking into a number of cases involving the Liverpool Care Pathway for dying patients.
The Liverpool Care Pathway is to be abolished after a government review revealed that it was being misinterpreted and that treatment, food and fluids were being withheld from patients in some cases.
Coles Miller is also looking into a number of claims relating to metal on metal hip replacements.
For more details about how to claim for alleged medical negligence, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Partner David Simpson, 01202 338889.