A helpful glossary that explains the common terms for medical negligence claims.

Medical negligence

Medical negligence is the term used to refer to a ‘medical accident’ in which a patient has been harmed because a medical professional has not given the appropriate standard or level of care.


Clinical negligence

Clinical negligence and medical negligence fundamentally refer to the same thing. It includes doctors and all other health professionals, such as therapists, nurses, opticians and dentists.


Duty of care

All healthcare professionals have what is referred to as a ‘duty of care’ to their patients. This means providing care that meets a certain expected standard within the medical sector.


Sub-standard care

This refers to a level of care that was not sufficient enough to meet the regulations within the medical profession and was, therefore, deemed below standard.



This refers to receiving an incorrect diagnosis of a particular illness or health-related issue. It spans the entire medical field to cover everything from mental health issues to broken bones and serious injuries and illnesses.


Breach of duty

If the care or treatment given falls below a reasonable standard, the healthcare professional is in breach of his or her duty to the patient, which could constitute ‘clinical negligence’.



Causation essentially refers to the identification of the direct cause of the injury or illness that was suffered as a result of clinical negligence.



There are two types of damages when referring to compensation. ‘General damages’ refer to pain, suffering and loss of comfort. ‘Special damages’ refer to the financial expenses or losses incurred as a direct result of an injury.


Medical accident

Not all medical accidents are a direct result of negligence. In some circumstances, there may be a situation that is not a reflection of the level of care received from a medical professional, such as unavoidable or unforeseen health complications.



This is the legal term used to describe the financial value of the claim in terms of damages.


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