In Hong Kong, medical negligence is becoming more commonplace. If you have been injured and the injury was caused by negligence of medical staff (such as doctors or nurses, or even Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners), you may be able to claim compensation against the negligent medical practitioners and/or the relevant clinics and hospitals.
Common examples of medical negligence committed by doctors:
- Conducting an uninstructed surgery
- A bone fracture unidentified
- Infections while in hospital
- Harm brought upon by incorrectly prescribed medicines
- Improperly conducted surgery
- Improperly administered anesthesia causing patient to have awareness during surgery
- Improperly conducted surgery causing brain damage or loss of memories
- Serious clinical misdiagnosis
- Improperly conducted surgery causing vision impairment
- Improperly conducted surgery causing skin damage
- Improperly conducted surgery causing permanent damage to the body
Common examples of medical negligence committed by Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners:
- Poisonous herbal drugs or supplements causing illness or injury;
- Improperly administered cupping and acupuncture causing skin burn or scalding;
- Improperly administered Dit Da or massage causing bone fracture or soft tissue damage.
What to do if you've encountered medical negligence?
In medical negligence cases, unlike other accident claims, the doctors and medical institutions involved are more inclined to deny liability due to possible concerns about reputation. Usually, ample proof of negligence and causation are required before a settlement is possible.
Therefore, if you have unfortunately encountered medical negligence, you should keep all evidence, including a detailed account of all symptoms and pain of your body, and you should instruct a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will act on your behalf and seek and consolidate medical records and notes from the relevant doctors and medical institutions.
In appropriate cases, your lawyer may advise and assist you to consult an independent medical expert to analyse and consider whether negligence was involved in the relevant treatment, so as to better advise you on whether or not you have a valid claim against the relevant doctor and the medical institution.
Generally speaking, the evidential threshold for a medical negligence case under common law is that the claimant (patient) must provide evidence to prove that the alleged negligent medical treatment falls short of or deviates from accepted standards of medical practice, and that it causes the bodily harm of the claimant. Besides, the claimant has to prove that a competent doctor would not have made such a mistake if that doctor conducted the same medical procedure.
Can I claim compensation against a doctor or a Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner?
If the doctor or Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner was negligent and caused you bodily injuries, you may claim compensation against him or her and the professional liability insurer. It is worth noting that generally Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners are licensed by the Government and are required to subscribe to professional liability insurance, whereas those who are not registered may not be covered by insurance. Hence it is always advisable to seek medical assistance from a Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner instead of an unregistered one.
Do I need to instruct a lawyer for a medical negligence claim?
Yes. Complex legal issues are involved in medical negligence cases. Strict compliance with Practice Direction 18.1 is required. Delays in claiming may cause you to lose your right to compensation altogether. It is always advisable to seek legal advice and representation as soon as possible.
Are the legal fees expensive?
If you have a valid claim, lawyers who specialise in personal injuries claims may be willing to agree to more flexible payment terms. You may need to put down costs of account of a few thousand dollars or up to twenty thousand dollars or so only for your lawyer to commence pre-action negotiation with the doctor. Furthermore, you may apply for Legal Aid and once the Legal Aid Certificate is issued by the Legal Aid Department, you may request the Director of Legal Aid to assign a lawyer of your choice to represent you. So please do not worry too much about legal fees and please don't directly negotiate with the doctor yourself as it may put you in a disadvantaged position.
CPH Legal is a law firm that focuses on personal injuries claims. We always act for the injured claimants to help them fight for justice and claim compensation to which they are rightly entitled.
If you have encountered a medical negligence incident, feel free to WhatsApp us to find out more about whether you have a valid claim. The preliminary consultation is completely free.