What To Do If Things Go Wrong During A Hospital Stay

Luckily it is very rare for things to go wrong during a hospital stay but we all know that things do happen. We have all heard the horror stories in the media or know of someone who has suffered unduly because of an error made whilst under the care of medical professionals. Most of us luckily haven’t actually had to experience such a terrible event and perhaps the majority of us wouldn’t actually know what to do if things did go wrong.

So what should you do if things do go wrong during a hospital stay?

Speak up as soon as you realise there is a problem

Whether it is you personally or a family member you are responsible for, it is important to speak out if you feel that your care has been anything but exemplary. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may want to speak to those involved directly in the care to see if you can get some sort of explanation before taking anything further. It is important to know the facts and go in with full details and the whole story. Speak to your regular doctor or locum tenens hospitalist about the incident.

Whilst mistakes shouldn’t be made in medical treatment, unfortunately, these things do happen and humans may make an error that affects others. You can access your own medical records so be sure to view these to get a full picture.

Finding out exactly what happened is key as you will want to know the complete situation before making any official complaints.

Speak to PALS

PALS is the patient advice and liaison service run by the NHS. PALS offers confidential advice, support and information on any health-related matters you may have. They provide a point of contact for patients, their families and their carers and give you advice on the complaints procedure if you want to proceed further.

They are there for help and advice so seek them out if you are truly unhappy with the treatment of yourself or a loved one.

Claim for medical negligence

This is probably something you only want to consider as a last resort but it is definitely something you should consider if things have gone wrong and you are not satisfied that your voice has been heard. You may not want to complain, after all, it's often not in the nature of us Brits, but also think, what if this incident isn't a first? If it is a genuine case of medical negligence complaining may stop it from happening again. So what is medical negligence?

Medical negligence is the breach of a legal duty of care owed to one person by another which results in damage being caused to that person. You can take action and claim compensation for this if you are the injured party. You can also claim if you are the next of kin of someone who died because of negligence or can’t take action themselves because they don’t have the capacity to do so.

Claiming for medical negligence needn’t be hard either. You may choose to make an official complaint through the NHS complaints procedure before taking legal action, but this isn’t completely necessary if you don’t wish to do so.

How do you know if what happened to you constitutes negligence?

These are some circumstances where a medical professional or authoritative body can be held negligent: a failure to diagnose your condition or making the wrong diagnosis; making an error during a routine procedure or operation; giving a patient the wrong medication; not getting informed consent before starting treatment and not warning about the risks of a particular treatment are examples.

However if you have suffered an injury because of medical treatment, this may be referred to as a ‘medical accident’ or ‘patient safety incident’ and doesn’t necessarily mean that your treatment was negligent. You will only be able to claim if you can prove that your treatment was carried out negligently which means the care you received fell below a medically acceptable standard and thus directly caused your injury.

I hope this helps you in the unlikely event something negative happens to you during a hospital stay and that you now know where to seek information and advice should this occur. For further information check out this article by the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

*Collaborative post


  1. Great tips! It's very sad that things can get wrong during a hospital stay, but luckily there are ways of correcting it.

    1. There are ways of trying to resolve issues, and obviously complaining is a last resort.

  2. This is such an important post as sometimes things can go wrong and we need to know what to do. PALS sounds like a great source of help

  3. You never would like to have to consider any of this, but sometimes things just don't go to plan and it is all important to know how to deal with such eventualities.

  4. I actually didn’t even know about PALS until a few days ago when I was in hospital waiting for my boyfriend to meet me there. This post is definitely goinnto be useful to a lot (hopefully not too many!) people !

  5. This is a really interesting post and something that I's never considered before. PALs sounds great!

  6. Really helpful and thorough advice for those having a distressing time. Thanks for raising awareness of the different options and legal terms

  7. I had to put in an official complaint to my local hospital and also spoke to PALS. PALS are brilliant! So helpful and great at mediating to sort out any problems.

    1. That is great to know that you had a positive experience!

  8. thanks for this mel,my daughter hasn't had the correct treatment for years,ive tried everything,im going to try pals now after reading this,so thank you very much