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Medical Negligence – Gastrointestinal medicine Claim
This is a loose name because it covers treatment along the whole length of the digestive tract, from the mouth/throat down to the bowel.
A significant proportion of the adult population will have undergone at least one “routine” endoscopy. Although this procedure is called “routine”, it is fraught with risks. The consent form that you will have signed, lists possible complications, and possible treatments the doctor performing the procedure may need to manage.
This raises a difficult issue in clinical negligence, which can lead to confusion and frustration.
If during a routine procedure, like an endoscopy, you suffer a complication – for instance, a cut (perforation) in the lining of the gut wall – is that negligent?
One answer could be a definitive: no. The doctor performing the procedure did everything right, but the gut lining was in a poor condition. The perforation of the gut could not have been avoided. The doctor did nothing wrong.
Take the same facts but with a twist. If at the key point during the procedure the equipment failed, so the doctor could not see what the flexible tube was doing, and, at that point, the gut lining was damaged.
On these facts, there could be negligence.
Or, if the equipment was fine, but the doctor’s concentration lapsed (say, this was the last procedure of the day), he wanted to get the procedure over with, so he pulled out too hastily. That would be negligent.
Mistakes happen. Doctors, like the rest of humanity, have flaws and they very often work long hours, under great pressure. Sadly, however, mistakes made by doctors tend to have serious consequences. This is what the civil justice system, that includes clinical negligence compensation claims, is there to put right (as far as money can put anything right).
The fact that you signed a consent form that lists possible complications does not mean a doctor who made a mistake can escape the consequences of that mistake. If a doctor was negligent, your consent to treatment is not a defence to a claim.
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