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Can You Sue a Hospital for Emotional Distress?

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Clinical negligence doesn’t just involve physical injury. It can leave people psychologically damaged.

If you suffer psychological injury as a result of a medical accident, then you may be eligible to claim for clinical negligence.

This psychological injury may take the form of emotional distress.

What is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is an acutely unpleasant emotional reaction resulting from someone else’s actions or behaviour.

For the sufferer, the outcomes of emotional distress can include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear or terror
  • Feelings linked to physical harm.

The shock or trauma of an injury resulting from clinical negligence can result in serious conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Symptoms of PTSD include emotional distress, expressed as feelings of irritability or isolation. Sufferers may relive traumatic events in nightmares or flashbacks.

They may develop insomnia or find it difficult to concentrate. Where symptoms persist, they can have a significant impact on someone’s day-to-day living and overall quality of life.

You shouldn’t underestimate the potential long-term effects that emotional distress can have on you as the result of clinical negligence.

Part of the compensation you claim may be to cover future therapy for you, to help you manage the emotional stress and mental injury you’ve experienced.

How Can You Prove Emotional Distress?

If you think you’ve suffered, or continue to suffer, emotional distress that is affecting you psychologically due to clinical negligence, you need to build your case.

Establishing whether you have the grounds for a negligence claim is based on the same conditions as suffering physical injury. You must prove that:

  • A healthcare professional has broken their duty of care towards you, and
  • You have suffered injury as a result, which would not have occurred otherwise

When considering the mental impact of negligence, it may be necessary to look beyond any physical impact to other ways in which you’ve been affected.

How has this changed the way you live your life? Are you unable to enjoy doing the things you used to do, such as relaxing with friends and family?

Think about how the mental impact of your injury has affected you at work or restricted your ability to work.

Gathering evidence of emotional distress and mental injury can be more challenging because this evidence is less obvious than for physical injury.

However, evidence remains central to proving your case.

This can involve evidence from your case notes if you’ve been seeing a therapist or psychiatrist as a result of your emotional distress.

You may have talked to occupational health at work, or interacted with other people who can provide witness statements.

You must keep all relevant paperwork such as letters, emails or private messages.

For more details about how we can help you with a medical or clinical negligence claim, please call us on 0800 088 6004, or complete our online contact form, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

More on Clinical Negligence Claims from Wilson Browne Solicitors

Clinical Negligence in NHS

Medical Negligence FAQs

Making A Claim For Medical Negligence

Medical Negligence Compensation

Clinical Negligence Schemes

Does Gross Negligence Require Intent?

Gemma Pabari


Gemma Pabari


Gemma is a Solicitor within the Medical Negligence Team. Gemma has experience in advising on a range of Medical Negligence claims, to include delays in diagnosing and treating Cauda Equina Syndrome, representing clients on matters arising from complications with pregnancy.