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Accident & Emergency negligence claims

There are over 21 million attendances at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments in the UK every year and staff really are at the front line, treating patients who need urgent treatment for serious injuries or illnesses.

A&E departments are open 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year and provide an absolutely vital service, in fact such a vital service, that some hospitals are at times failing to cope with the demands being placed upon them. Unfortunately, this can result in patients receiving poor care, and potentially further injury.

Whilst treatment provided in A&E departments is usually of an excellent standard, sometimes errors are made, and injuries sustained. When this happens it is possible for a patient to pursue a claim for compensation. At Boyes Turner we are experienced in dealing with such cases.

Common A&E claims

Over the years we have dealt with a large range of cases involving negligent treatment in A & E departments. Typical cases include: 

What errors are made? 

When examining the A&E negligence claims we have dealt with, certain errors appear time and time again. These include:

  • Failure to take a complete patient history.
  • Not performing an adequate examination.
  • Inadequate investigations ( which might include blood tests, x-rays, scans).
  • Incorrect reporting of test results.
  • Inappropriately sending patients home.
  • On discharge, providing poor (or no) advice regarding what to do if symptoms persist.

Why are errors made in A&E? 

There is always a lot written in the press about problems with emergency care in the UK, with frequent references to hospitals being at "crisis point". But why? This is a complex issue with no straightforward answer. Possible explanations for the problems faced by A&E departments include an ageing population with long term and complex health issues, staff shortages, too few beds for those who need to be admitted, and a lack of information about where else patients can turn for help. This is all placing a strain on A&E departments. 

Where can patients go other than A&E? 

For those who are in urgent need of care, there are other alternatives which include: 

  • Urgent care centres
  • Walk-in centres
  • GP out of hours services
  • Minor injury units
  • The NHS 111 telephone advice service
  • Pharmacies

These services have the potential to ease the burden on A&E departments but it is important that they also function well, and sadly this is not always the case.

Many GP out of hours services have been sub-contracted to private firms and there have been concerns raised including the use of nursing staff to fill GP shifts and the employment of doctors with a poor grasp of English.

The NHS 111 telephone advice line, which was designed to provide a screening service, has also been plagued by significant difficulties which are thought to have put patients at risk, and in some cases, resulted in harm. There have been problems with staffing levels, delays and quality of advice.

Patients are understandably alarmed and therefore resort to visiting A&E departments, which are already over-stretched.

If you, a family member, or friend, have received negligent care at an Accident and Emergency department, it may be possible to bring a claim. To discuss your options, get in touch with our experienced solicitors on 0800 307 7620 or email [email protected]

Please note that there are time limitations on making a claim, for further information click here.


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