Claiming for Medical Errors in the UK: Exposing the scale of errors in the prescription of drugs

Post regarding medical errors in the UK.

A study commissioned by the GMC  revealed in May last year, the scale of errors made by GPs in the prescribing of medication. The mistakes found ranged in type but of note were the following types of errors: wrong dosages, lack of instructions for prescribed medication and a lack of monitoring patients on drugs which could cause other problems.

The headline figure reads that 1 in every 20 prescriptions in England may occur. it is worth noting that as stated above these errors are on the whole minor and unlikely to be dangerous to the public at large.

The study, undertaken by the University of Nottingham’s Medical School made for alarming reading, especially for children and  patients around the 75 or older category. The statistics show that patients in that category are actually twice as likely to be given a prescription with an error. Elderly patients are more susceptible to errors, mainly because of the fact they may be taking several other prescription drugs. Children, it is claimed, have a higher risk of being given an incorrect dosage as this is usually calculated from body weight – a constantly changing thing in developing children.

Who is to Blame?

Blame for these mistakes has been put down to a plethora of reasons, such as time pressures during GP consultations as well as complex computer software that makes it easy for incorrect doses or even drugs to be selected from drop down menus amid frequent distractions and interruptions from patients.

Can I Claim for Damages?

Although, it is claimed the errors pose no real threat to the general public. What can be done in the event that a mistake in the prescription of medication causes harm to you – the patient? Are you able to claim for compensation from this error? How difficult will this be to do? Who can help you with this?

You can make a claim for compensation, essentially claims like these are for medical negligence (sometimes referred to as medical malpractice) and falls into the area of personal injury law. Personal injury claims can be difficult and claims for medical negligence are even more so.

The courts do not wish to punish doctors for mistakes unless it can be shown that the mistake is so grievous that no other doctor would have made the same. That is an over simplification of the situation and in all fairness access to justice for medical negligence claims are both on the rise and becoming more successful.

To increase your chances of a successful claim it is advisable to seek representation. For personal injury advice if claiming for medical errors it is best to contact a UK solicitor who specialises in personal injury claims. The link here will take you to a firm who are not only specialists in personal injury law but also medical negligence claims.

Will I be eligible for Legal Aid?

In the UK the Access to Justice Act 1999 limits the use of legal aid. However, if you are claiming for medical negligence you may yet be able to claim for legal aid and its financial assistance.


If your claim is against a hospital trust or a healthcare provider and you meet the income level eligibility and you have a reasonable chance of winning, then you will receive financial assistance to help pay for your claim.

These rules will be amended in April this year. On April 1st 2013 claims for medical negligence will only be available in cases concerning patients who are injured during pregnancy, labour or a baby up to eight weeks old.

Claiming After April 1st 2013

Don’t worry if you are reading this after April 1st there are still ways for you to access justice. Many law firms now offer CFA’s (conditional fee agreements) known widely as no win no fee. You can also take out a specialised insurance product that will cover your legal fees should your claim be unsuccessful, remember if you win – the losing person pays the fees for both legal teams. All decisions on how to fund your case should be made with the expert advice from a solicitor to ensure it is the best choice for you.

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