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What should I do if I have suffered a medical accident?

If you have been injured during treatment, you must first make sure you are getting the right treatment to try and correct the injury. You may need to get a second opinion or ask your doctor to refer you to another hospital or clinic.

You may be feeling distressed and confused about what has happened, and may want advice and support. This could be from friends, family or specialist support groups. You could also talk to your GP to see if they can explain things or help in other ways.

If you cannot work because of the accident, you should get advice about claiming benefits and how to deal with any debts that have built up. You should also get advice about benefits if your partner contributes to the household income but cannot work because of a medical accident. Community Legal Advice or your local Citizens Advice Bureau is a good place to start. Or you can read the articles in these sections:

After you have taken steps to take care of your health, you should think about what you want to do next. What do you want to happen?

You may want:

  • an explanation and an apology;
  • to make sure that the same mistake is not made again (this may mean a hospital has to change its procedures, or the person responsible must be disciplined or retrained); or
  • compensation.

It is important to understand that taking legal action is only about getting compensation. If an apology or the safety of other patients is more important to you, you should think about the types of action you can take without going to law. See ‘What if I want to complain about a professional’s behaviour?’, and ‘What if I want to make sure that the same mistake is not repeated?’. Remember that once you start a legal claim, you are unlikely to be able to take another course of action.

Whatever you want to happen – whether or not it involves taking legal action – you can get advice from a solicitor. However, they will usually be better able to advise you if you have first found out as much as you can about what happened to you.

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