Poor care as a hospital inpatient can directly contribute to cases of medical negligence. Patient care not only makes sure that the essential requirements for healing are met but also that patients receive dignified treatment, that their experience of medical care does not add to the possible trauma associated with falling ill. Clinical neglect can not only lead to additional bodily damage but contribute to developing mental health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder or anxiety. Negligent care can also unnecessarily lengthen the healing process; potentially delaying the return work and forcing a loss of earnings.
Patient Safety Incidents
There were 1,811,175 NHS patient safety incidents reported in 2015/16. Of these, 1,338,819 occurred in hospitals. A patient safety incident is any occurrence that could possibly endanger a patient’s safety, care or treatment. Most of these end in little to no harm to the patient, and can include incidents where the patient has brought harm to themselves.
In 2015/16, over 57,000 of these safety incidents resulted in moderate harm, over 5,000 resulted in severe harm and over 4,000 resulted in death. These incidents are reported by NHS staff themselves.
Of the 1.3 million reported incidents from hospitals in 2015/16, 170,000 were related to the implementation of care or on-going patient monitoring. Over 100,000 were staffing related, environment or facilities and 4,000 were reported incidents of patient abuse, either by a third party or staff member.
Also in that year, over 116,000 complaints were made about hospitals to the NHS by patients. There is a large discrepancy between those potentially experiencing a patient safety incident, and those who submit a written complaint. Over 19,000 complaints concerned patient care, including access to basic rights such as food and water, whilst in the hospital.
17,707 complaints were made about staff behaviour and values in the same year.
What does this add up to? Reduced care, inadequate hospitals, awful attitudes from staff can all be contributing factors to incidents of clinical negligence. It shapes healing, understanding and communication across each area of inpatient care. It can have such a deep result, that it discourages people from looking for additional treatment. In 2015/16, the NHS paid £1.4 million in medical negligence compensation, with roughly 10,000 new cases created in that year.