How to Sue For Medical Negligence in Cameroon

What is Medical Negligence, and do I have a claim?

Cameroonians have all heard the story of friends or family members who have gone to the hospital for routine procedures or minor medical conditions. The next you hear is that they have sadly passed away at the hospital.

Issues Plaguing the Medical Sector in Cameroon

Now we all know about the issues plaguing Cameroon's health sector – underfunded and under-staffed hospitals, unpaid doctors, intermittent power supply…the list is probably endless. Those are facts that any honest Cameroonian would agree are true; the vast majority of our hospitals face these issues.

However, several of the cases we hear about are cases where the problem is due to negligence or what you could call the human factor.

We have written this article for cases where issues are caused by negligence or lack of proper care by the hospitals and their medical staff.

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers treat millions of Cameroonians daily, privately or in public hospitals. Unfortunately, the situation can quickly turn sour when you or a loved one has suffered a complication due to a medical error.

Misdiagnosis and Poor Standards of Care

This article is for you if you have received poor or substandard treatment from a doctor, nurse, dentist, or medical professional. Unfortunately, some scenarios we have heard about are when people go into the hospital and are misdiagnosed, when they are correctly diagnosed but given the wrong medication, or when they are operated on. Foreign objects are left in the body of the patient…the list is endless. When this occurs, you should know that you can sue the hospital or medical professional for negligence and claim compensation.

If you decide to do this, we understand that it can be an emotional and stressful process, primarily when the treatment you are suing the medical professional about has led to the person's death. This is why you should get a lawyer involved; they have the training and the skills to assist you in getting the proper compensation you deserve (if the medical professional has indeed been at fault and was negligent).

Who can sue, and when can you sue?

Generally, only the person who has been a victim of the medical error can sue. However, the situation is different if the patient has passed away or the patient is a child. If the patient has passed away, then the patient's patient's next of kin, e.g.., husband, wife, parents, children, etc., can sue for compensation. If a child, it will be the parent or the legal guardian of the child.

Doctors, nurses, dentists, opticians, and all other medical professionals owe what is legally known as a duty of care toward their patients. When this duty is breached, and the patient suffers some damage, it gives rise to a potential claim for compensation.

At this point, it is essential to note that the law does not require medical professionals to be perfect every time they do their job; 100% perfection is not humanly possible. The law requires that medical professionals exercise a reasonable standard of care from them. So, if a doctor, nurse, or other health professional treats you correctly, you will probably not have a compensation claim. You may have a claim if your treatment was not of a good standard and caused your injury.

Every case is individual, with varying factors to be considered, so if you think you may have a claim, you must speak to a lawyer. They will be able to view the law and advise you accordingly.

As mentioned above, you can sue when there has been an act of medical negligence; the critical thing, though, is that if you are suing for compensation, the claimant (the person suing) must have suffered some harm as a result of the negligence of the act being complained about. For instance, you could sue a doctor for negligence in misdiagnosing an illness; however, if, for example, a person is misdiagnosed for illness A when he has illness B and then prescribed medication he takes. If the medicine cures illness B, he or she will be unable to sue for negligence in the misdiagnosis because he or she has not really suffered any actual damage from the misdiagnosis (although the person could report the doctor to its regulatory body).

Read Also: Cost and Things to Consider When Hiring a Lawyer in Cameroon.

How long do you have to make a claim, and how much compensation can you receive?  

You have three years to make a compensation claim, and this period runs from when you first received the negligent treatment complained of or the date you first discovered that the treatment was negligent.

As each case is individual, compensation will vary from claim to claim. However, there are certain things the court will consider when deciding the amount of payment a claimant would be entitled to; this includes factors such as a person's age, the severity of the injury, employment status, and associated losses caused as a result of the treatment, etc.

What's Next?

Have you or someone you know been a victim of medical negligence in Cameroon, and you are wondering whether you have sufficient grounds to sue the hospital and doctors? If yes, then you should speak to a lawyer to review your case.

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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.

Suggested: Personal Injury Lawyers in Cameroon.

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