Medical negligence and its after-effects are stressful in many ways. Being injured due to someone else’s mistakes throws an unexpected twist of fate. The life disrupting after-effects can result in a rollercoaster of emotions to overcome.

Unlike physical injuries, the psychological effect of medical negligence is invisible harm, are not immediately obvious. However, it can significantly impact a victim’s life.

Coping with personal feelings is often the most difficult part of the medical negligence claim process. It can feel like a worrying time, not knowing whether you’re going to get the answers you’re looking for.

As April is Stress Awareness Month, we look at the psychological repercussions of medical negligence and how we support clients who feel stressed during a claim.

Stress caused by injuries

If you’ve been injured by medical negligence, you might have experienced times of heightened stress and emotion while going through the adjustment process. It can feel like your world is closing in on you.

Whether you have experienced delayed diagnosis of an illness, botched surgery, chronic pain, limb loss, a brain injury, visual impairment, or incontinence, different physical effects will impact your mental health in different ways.

You might feel like you’re mourning the loss of your old self. Sometimes you’ll be afraid and uncertain about your health status and the potential future medical issues you might face.

If you’ve lost your independence or mobility, it can be frustrating having to adapt to relying on others. You might feel sadness or hopelessness, lose interest in activities you once enjoyed and isolate yourself from others.

You might be navigating more time-consuming health management or medical appointments which can be stressful around other commitments. Maybe you feel anger or distrust towards medical professionals which can prevent you from seeking care in the future.

Then there are the financial worries resulting from medical negligence. You might feel worried about how long you’ll be off work or have the new burden of private care or medical treatment costs.

Many clients we have supported have also been affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They experience flashbacks, nightmares, sleep issues or detachment disorders. Trauma can stem from the physical pain and suffering during things like anaesthetic awareness. It could also be emotional distress from scenarios like seeing a newborn or birthing mother injured during labour. In some cases, breach of trust by a medical professional will leave patients with PTSD and health anxiety.

If you are making a medical negligence claim, your solicitor should signpost you to any charities or services that can alleviate any worries you may have. This could be debt or housing advice, counselling or bereavement support, or support groups to speak with others going through similar situations.

It can also be possible to apply for interim payments where you are given a part of your compensation settlement early to help with financial worries, so long as liability has been admitted.

Stress about the legal process

Legal matters are filled with uncertainty and unpredictability. The lack of control can add to a claimant’s existing stress and anxiety.

Going over the details of what happened to you with a stranger can be stressful, however empathetic your lawyer may be. Not understanding the legal process is stressful. Not getting the answers you need is stressful.

You should feel confident in your lawyer and be able to trust them to explain what’s happening. Your lawyer shouldn’t give you additional stress by not keeping you informed or being unreasonable. It’s important that your worries or concerns are heard, acknowledged and addressed in a compassionate and caring way.

At Medical Solicitors, your situation really matters to us. We have become renowned for the level of empathy we show all our clients. We have a five-star rating on independent review site Feefo where our past clients have often praised us for going above and beyond.

As a law firm that solely focuses on medical negligence claims, our clients benefit from our full attention. Our team are not juggling chasing up medical reports with getting a Land Registry survey or filing custody applications. Our lawyers are all well experienced in this complex area of the law and use their medical and legal knowledge to fully investigate all claims they take on.

We never wish for the process to feel stressful for our clients. That’s why we do all the leg work needed while still keeping our clients informed at every stage of the process via phone or email. We don’t use legal jargon and speak to you like a human being, building trusting relationships with all our clients.

If you’ve put off making a medical negligence claim because you worry it will be too stressful, it doesn’t have to be if you choose the right law firm to represent you. If you are unhappy with who is currently handling your medical negligence claim, speak to us to see if we can take over your claim.

We offer No Win No Fee agreements where all of our costs are written off if your claim is unsuccessful. So our claimants don't have ther stress of worrying about how they're going to pay for expert legal advice.

Coping with stress

Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. It’s how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. You’ve heard the phrase ‘fight or flight’.

A certain amount of stress is healthy but stress can become a problem if it lasts a long time or feels intense. Chronic stress can also interfere with work, sleep and home life and disrupt your normal function. While it’s not a mental health problem, it can cause or aggravate mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression or PTSD.

You might have been told to just let go of negative emotions rather than hold them in but that’s easier said than done.

There are some coping mechanisms that you might find helpful.

  • Embrace the healing process

Grief and mourning are natural. Anger and frustration are normal. All feelings are valid feelings. Repressing those emotions will only extend the process and fuel your anger.

  • Prioritise self-care

Self-care is more than just a spa day – as nice as one of those might sound right now. Start with the basics of a good diet, regular exercise (if you can), and better sleep quality. Neglecting your body’s needs benefits nobody.  

  • Don’t bottle it up

Let your family or friends know if you’re struggling. Talk about what’s stressing you out – they may not have realised how much your experience had impacted you. Granted, not everyone will be able to help or support you during stressful times. Confide in those you trust will listen objectively without feeling obliged to impart their (unhelpful) wisdom on you.

  • Seek professional support

Counselling or therapy can be a good way to process any trauma or worries you’re feeling. Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing may only make things worse.

The important thing to remember is to recognise when stress has become a problem. Don’t ignore the signs and symptoms of stress. Physical signs of stress could be:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Panic attacks
  • Chest pains and high blood pressure
  • Headaches or sore muscles
  • Blurred eyesight or sore eyes
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion, heartburn, diarrhoea, constipation
  • Sudden change in weight
  • Rashes or itchy skin
  • Sweating that’s abnormal for you
  • Changes to menstrual cycle
  • Feeling nauseous, dizzy or faint

Why Choose Us?

We’ve handled many different types of medical negligence cases and provided expert advice for over 30 years.

  • We offer FREE, no obligation legal advice all throughout
  • Our processes are hassle free & we handle all the paperwork
  • We won't charge you a penny until your case has been settled

Our surgery claims expert:

Caroline Moore

Managing Director/Head of Sheffield Office