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The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) recently reported that by June 2021 the NHS was seeing the highest number of attendances at NHS emergency departments and A&Es on record.

Accident and emergency departments are expected to provide safe, timely and often critical emergency care to patients who are experiencing acute or severe illness, traumatic injury or a life-threatening, medical emergency. A&E staff make important decisions about the severity, urgency and nature of a patient’s condition. Their actions determine whether a patient needs immediate treatment, specialist review, admission to hospital, discharge home or referral elsewhere. Their response to emergency situations can ensure that the patient receives the treatment needed to heal or manage their condition. Where the A&E team’s response is delayed, wrong or sub-standard it can cause severe harm to the patient from a worsening of their condition, life-long disability or fatal injury.

If you or a member of your family have suffered severe avoidable harm as a result of negligent treatment in A&E, Boyes Turner’s experienced medical negligence lawyers can help you claim compensation. 

Recent A&E claims cases

What is accident and emergency (A&E) or emergency department (ED) care?

A&E is the department of a hospital or healthcare centre which provides emergency treatment for people with acute or sudden serious illness, medical emergencies or severe accidental or traumatic injuries. A&E departments are also known as ‘accident and emergency’, ‘the emergency department’ (ED), or casualty.

Some A&E departments provide 24 hour a day service, led by a consultant, with full resuscitation facilities in an area that is designed to receive accident and emergency patients. Others provide consultant-led accident and emergency treatment for patients in a specialist area of medicine, such as eye casualty units. Other types of A&E units, sometimes known as ‘walk in centres’ or ‘minor injury units’,  may be led by a doctor or nurse and only treat minor illnesses and injuries.

Major A&E departments are usually open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Patients may arrive by ambulance or make their own way to A&E without the need for a GP referral or hospital appointment.

Part of the A&E or ED team’s job is to assess quickly which patients should be prioritised for treatment, depending on their condition. The process of deciding who gets priority is known as triage. Patients are then assessed by a doctor or nurse and may be referred for further investigations, such as x-rays and scans, or for review or treatment by a specialist. They may be admitted to hospital for urgent treatment, referred to another hospital or back to their GP, given an appointment to attend a clinic at a later date or sent home (discharged).

The NHS says that A&E deals with ‘genuine, life-threatening emergencies’, such as:

  • loss of consciousness;
  • acute (starting suddenly) confusion;
  • fits (also known as seizures or convulsions) which are not stopping;
  • chest pain;
  • breathing difficulties;
  • severe bleeding;
  • severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis
  • severe burns or scalds;
  • stroke;
  • major trauma (serious, life-threatening or disabling injury), such as a head injury, spinal injury or multiple fractures from a fall or road traffic accident. 

Not all life-threatening or disabling injuries are obvious from the way the patient looks without further investigation. Accurate diagnosis may depend on A&E staff finding out more from the patient’s medical history and other conditions, their symptoms and the results of further tests or investigations.

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What types of A&E/ED errors can you claim compensation for?

Claims for compensation for injury caused by negligent A&E care usually arise from one or more of the following mistakes:

  • incorrect prioritising of the patient’s need for treatment (triage);
  • delay:
    • in assessing the patient;
    • in diagnosing their condition;
    • in providing emergency or urgent treatment;
    • in referral or transfer to an appropriate hospital for the condition;
    • in obtaining specialist review of the patient;
    • in admitting the patient to hospital for treatment;
  • patient handling errors (lifting spinal injuries, using excessive force, dropping the patient or allowing them to fall);
  • diagnosis errors:
    • failing to assess or examine the patient properly;
    • failure to monitor or correctly observe the patient’s condition;
    • failure to take proper information about the patient’s medical history or condition;
    • failure to diagnose the patient’s condition;
    • incorrect diagnosis/misdiagnosis of the patient’s condition;
    • failing to recognise red flag symptoms of emergency conditions;
    • failing to carry out necessary investigations (such as blood tests, scans, x-rays);
    • misinterpretation of investigation results.
  • treatment errors:
    • failing to provide emergency treatment (such as resuscitation, IV antibiotics);
    • incorrect treatment;
    • medication errors;
  • equipment errors:
    • lack of necessary equipment;
    • use of incorrect or defective equipment;
    • incorrect use of equipment;
  • negligently discharging a patient:
    • who needs urgent or emergency treatment;
    • who has red flag symptoms of an emergency condition;
    • who needs admission to hospital;
    • without correct advice on action to take if their condition deteriorates (safety-netting advice);
  • communication and medical recording errors (such as failing to pass on important investigation results).

All areas of the NHS have a legal responsibility to provide safe care and to compensate patients who have been severely injured as a result of negligence. The patient’s right to claim is not affected by NHS problems such as:

  • staff shortages;
  • lack of training or trained staff;
  • lack of government funding;
  • lack of resources;
  • queues, overcrowding or lack of capacity.  

Claims for serious injury caused by negligent emergency care can also arise from:

  • GP negligence, such as: 
    • failing to recognise a patient’s red flag symptoms of an emergency condition;
    • failure to refer a patient to hospital or for specialist review;
    • delay in calling an ambulance;
    • failure to communicate the correct level of urgency;
    • providing incorrect or inadequate information about the patient’s condition.
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What kind of injuries lead to A&E/ED compensation claims?

Patients attending A&E have already suffered injury or illness, but correct A&E care can heal treatable conditions, or prevent deterioration and reduce avoidable, long-term harm. A&E negligence claims compensate the patient for avoidable, additional serious injury or disability which they suffered as a result of negligent treatment.

We recover compensation for our clients after negligent emergency care has left them with avoidable injuries, including:

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Our specialist Accident and emergency claims team are considered leaders in the field and have a significant amount of expertise.
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Susan Brown


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Julie Marsh


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Richard Money-Kyrle


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Sita Soni

Senior Associate - solicitor

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Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

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Tara Byrne

Associate - Solicitor

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Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

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Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

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Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

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Ben Ireland


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Alice Carley


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Audrey Elmore

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Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

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Sita Soni headshot
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Fran Rothwell
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Nicky Melville headshot

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I approached Boyes Turner after my claim was turned down by one of the Medical Negligence Claim company. My wife was a victim of medical negligence.

Boyes Turner have acted so efficiently on our behalf and was able to win our case. Anytime we contact them, their customer service was very good as they kept us fully informed of every level our case has developed. They are very friendly and approachable and great in their professional advise. I would strongly recommend anyone approach them for their legal and medical negligence services.

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From the moment I picked up the phone and spoke to Richard Money-Kyrle I knew I had done the right thing by choosing Boyes Turner to take our claim forward and to represent my son. Both Richard Money-Kyrle and Alpa Rana have worked on our case and they both have been amazing throughout, explaining every step of the way and anything we didn’t understand and keeping me updated constantly. This gave me and my family a lot of reassurance.

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