Clinical Negligence Glossary


Temporary increase in the fetal heart rate of at least 15 beats per minute (bpm) above the baseline for around 10-20 seconds

Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE)

Injury to the central nervous system caused by lack of oxygen.


Paralysis affecting one side of the body

Hip dysplasia

A deformation or misalignment of the hip

Horner's Syndrome

A nerve condition affecting the face


Excessive levels of bilirubin in the blood due to the inadequate treatment of jaundice


A buildup of fluid on the brain which increasing the pressure


High blood pressure


Low blood sugar


Low blood pressure


The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service – provides support for patients and their carers wishing to pursue a complaint about treatment and care.


The appearance of blood in the urine


A Hearing conducted by a Coroner to establish the cause of somebody’s death. This is limited to who, what, when and why.


During labour

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

A complex of symptoms which can include diarrhoea, loose stools, constipation, abdominal pain, flatulence and bloating.


Insufficient supply of blood

Issue of Proceedings

The Court formally starts Court proceedings by sealing the Claim Form and making an official Court record of the case.


A change of skin colour and the whites of the eyes caused by excessive levels of bilirubin


Brain injury caused by untreated jaundice


Curving of the spine




Glaucoma is the result of increased pressure within the eye leading to damage of the optic nerve.


Minimally invasive surgical procedure performed through small incisions (keyholes)


Experts in different fields prepare reports throughout the case to assist with assessing the merits and the value of the case.

Erbs Palsy

A condition that affects the nerves that control the muscles in the arm and hand.


Experts in different fields prepare reports throughout the case to assist with assessing the merits and the value of the case.


Encephalopathy is a term for any diffuse disease of the brain that alters brain function or structure


A method of examining visually the interior of a bodily canal or a hollow organ using an endoscope


Elbow tendonitis


A common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures


A surgical cut to the perineum, performed to ease the delivery of the baby's head or bottom during delivery

Erbs Palsy

A condition that affects the nerves that control the muscles in the arm and hand.


Thigh bone

Glasgow Coma Scale

Standardised system for assessing degree of conscious impairment

Fetal acidosis

Increased acidity in fetus blood. This is highly diagnostic of fetal distress.

Fetal blood sample

A blood sample taken from the head of the baby before delivery.

Fetal distress

Indication that a fetus is not well, including decreased movements, meconium, high or low heart rate and fetal acidosis.


Chronic condition with symptoms of pain and fatigue


Instruments similar to large tongs used to assist in delivering the baby vaginally.


Gastroenteritis is a general medical term used to describe any illness which involves diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain etc.

Gentamycin (Gentamicin) toxicity

Side effects which develop as a result of Gentamycin (an antibiotic) overdose




Surgery involving a large incision through the abdominal wall

Law Society

This is the governing body of solicitors.


A common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures

Pulmonary embolism

A blood clot in the pulmonary artery, the blood vessel that transports blood from the heart to the lungs.

Obstetric Cholestasis

A rare complication of pregnancy, which manifests itself as a persistent itch during the last third of pregnancy.


The branch of medicine which handles the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye.


Specialists in Orthopaedics perform surgery to correct conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system.


The application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than recommended by medical professionals. Drug overdoses can often lead to severe illness and death.

Perineal Tear

A tear in the region of the perineum, which generally includes the areas surrounding the genitals and anus. Perineal tears can occur as a complication during childbirth.

Pressure sores

Also known as pressure ulcers, pressure sores are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue which are the direct result of the affected area being put under too much pressure. Such injuries are often the result of neglect combined with a lack of mobility.

Preventive care

Steps taken to prevent a disease or injury from developing, rather than treating and/or curing the after-effects.


A doctor’s prediction as to the likely outcome of a medical procedure, illness or injury.

Scaphoid Fracture

The scaphoid is one of the smallest bones in the wrist, and is also the most likely to break.

Neonatal Hypoglycaemia

A condition that occurs in children when blood sugar (glucose) is too low

Sciatic Nerve Damage

The sciatic nerve originates in the spinal cord and runs between the bones of the lower back and the muscles of the buttocks. Damage to the nerve can cause leg pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the affected area.

Secondary care services

The service tasked with providing and maintaining all in-patient hospital facilities for those over the age of 65.

Spastic Quadriplegia

A form of cerebral palsy which affects all four limbs (arms and legs); sufferers experience extreme tightness and stiffness in their limbs and must work extremely hard in order to use their limbs successfully.


A condition in which a bone in the spine slips out of its proper position and rests on the bone below it. Symptoms can range from almost non-existent to severe back pain and stiffness.


The result of a foetus dying in the uterus. The mother may still experience contractions and go through the childbirth process.

Sub-Arachnoid Haemorrhag

A stroke caused by bleeding in, or immediately surrounding, the brain.


A medical device used to hold tissue together following surgery or an injury.

Temporal Arteritis

Inflammation and damage to blood vessels that supply the head area and can lead to visual loss if not treated promptly.


The branch of medicine which specialises in caring for women’s reproductive systems and their children during pregnancy, childbirth and immediately after.

Neonatal nursing

The provision of nursing care for newborn infants up to 28 days after birth.

Legal Aid

Legal aid provides financial assistance to people bringing or defending claims where they have limited funds available. Not every claim is eligible for legal aid. Legal aid is subject to a merits and financial eligibility test.


Chronic swelling occurs when lymph fluid does not drain away from tissue.

Legal Expenses Insurance

A type of insurance policy which covers policyholders against the potential costs of legal action.

Legal Services Commission

This is the government department that deals with Legal Aid/Public Funding

Letter of Claim

A detailed letter to the Defendants setting out the basis upon which the claim is made.

Letter of Response

The Defendants are required to send a formal letter responding to the case as set out in the letter of claim.

Liability and Causation

Report which comments on whether the defendant has been negligent and if any injuries have been caused as a result of negligence.

Limitation period

The Limitation Act provides that in claims for compensation for injury, legal proceedings must be issued within 3 years of the date of the alleged negligence unless at the time the Claimant is under 18 (in which case the 3 year period runs from the child’s 18th birthday) or is a person under a legal disability in which case no limitation period applies. Alternatively, the 3 year period may run from what is known as the “date of knowledge”. This is the date upon which the Claimant begins to suspect/should have suspected that they may have suffered an injury as a result of substandard treatment. Where someone has died because of negligence, the 3 year time limit runs from the date of death. In the case of private treatment where no claim is made for injuries (eg if you seek to recover only the cost of treatment) the limitation period is 6 years.

Litigation Friend

The person who issues proceedings on behalf of someone who is unable to do so on their own, for example a mother may be a litigation friend on behalf of a child.

Lumbar Vertebrae

There are 5 lumbar vertebrae below your thoracic vertebrae. If your injury is at this level you will lose the power in your legs, bladder and bowels.

Mandibular Fracture

A fractured jaw


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

McRobert's manoeuvre

A procedure carried out in the event of shoulder dystocia to try to deliver the baby. It involves pressing the mother's legs tight against her abdomen, with pressure also being applied to the lower abdomen and gentle pulling on the baby's head.


The early stools of an infant. Although characteristic of normal labour, it can also be an indication of fetal distress

Medical records

All records about your health including your GP records and hospital records.

Meningococcal disease



Cartilage shaped in a crescent, usually pertaining to the knee joint.


One of the bones in the mid section of the foot.


The unintended death of a fetus of under 24 weeks gestation

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

About 10 percent of children with cerebral palsy have what is known a mixed-type cerebral palsy

MRI Scan

MRI scans use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed image of the inside of the body


A surgical cut to the perineum, performed to ease the delivery of the baby's head or bottom during delivery


Elbow tendonitis

Achilles Tendon

The tendon which attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone.

Baseline rate

The fetal heart rate (FHR) excluding accelerations and decelerations.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

A form of cerebral palsy which affects the sense of balance, depth perception, muscle tone and difficulty with speech.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

A form of cerebral palsy which affects control of muscles, disrupted by spontaneous and unwanted irregular writhing movements.


Wasting or loss of muscle


Action against Medical Accidents – Charity which provides advice about medical accidents.

Baker's Cyst

Lump filled with synovial fluid which forms behind the knee.

Barlow test

A test to see whether the hip is able to be dislocated in a baby, which involved moving the thigh up to the midline and pressing on the knee


(Counsel) Legal practitioner that specialises in advocacy both written and oral

Baseline variability

The variability in the normal baseline rate of the fetal heart. Normal baseline variability is around 10 beats per minute.

Before the Event Insurance (BTE)

Legal expenses insurance -usually as part of house contents insurance policies or car insurance. This insurance is in place before an accident occurs and may cover legal expenses.

Artificial rupture of membranes (ARM)

The process of breaking the waters around a fetus

Bell's Palsy

A facial nerve palsy

Boutonniere Deformity

An injury to the tendons in the fingers.

Brachial plexus

The bundle of nerves leading from the neck to the armpit, which send s signals from the spine to the shoulder arm and hand. Erb’s Palsy is a brachial plexus injury.

Brachial plexus

The bundle of nerves leading from the neck to the armpit, which sends signals from the spine to the shoulder arm and hand. Erb’s Palsy is a brachial plexus injury.


A heart rate slower than normal.

Breach of Duty


Breech presentation

The presentation of the baby bottom down during pregnancy or labour

Caesarean section

Delivery of a baby surgically through an incision in the abdomen and uterus.


A lack of oxygen


Surgical procedure to examine the internal structure of a joint.

Cardiotocograph (CTG)

A machine used to record the strength of maternal contractions and the fetal heart rate, usually towards the end of pregnancy or during labour.


A medication that causes loss of sensation


An accumulation of acid in the blood or tissues.

Acquired Brain Injury

Damage to the brain which occurs after birth and no related to congenital disorder, developmental disability or progressive disease.

Acute Renal Failure

A sudden loss of the ability of the kidneys to remove waste and urine.


Surgical removal of the adenoids (small lumps of tissue at the back of the throat)

Adhesive Capsulitis

Frozen Shoulder’ – shoulder joint with significant loss of its range of motion.

After the Event Insurance (ATE)

This is insurance taken out after the event to cover legal costs.


Loss of memory


A diagnostic test for chromosome abnormality performed by extracting a sample of amniotic fluid.

Anaesthetic Awareness

being mentally alert while supposedly under full general anaesthesia


Inflammatory condition of the joints, characterised by pain, swelling, heat and limitation of movement.


A group of drugs used to relieve pain


A severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction

Anterior Cord Syndrome

Blood supply to the anterior portion of the spinal cord is interrupted causing loss of motor function below the injury level.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

One of four ligaments which provides stability in the knee. The ACL is the most common knee ligament to suffer injury.


Medicines which reduce the ability of the blood to clot


Substance or procedure which reduces high blood pressure.


Substance or procedure which reduces inflammation.

Apgar Score

A method of assessing the physiological state of a newborn baby.


Association of Personal Injury Lawyers


Heart muscle disease

Carotid Artery

The artery which supplies the head and neck with oxygenated blood.


A method of examining visually the interior of a bodily canal or a hollow organ using an endoscope

Counsel's Advice

Barrister’s advice about certain aspects of the case

Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

This is the legal document that is signed when a solicitor agrees to deal with a case on a no win, no fee basis. It is a legally binding document between both parties.


Meeting with solicitor, the Barrister and the medical experts.

Congenital Dysplasia of the Hip (CDH)

A dislocation of the hip joint that is present at birth (also referred to as DDH - developmental dysplasia of the hip)


Tightening of the uterus during labour


The person appointed to oversee enquiries (inquests) into people’s deaths.


A hormone steroid used to control inflammation.

CT scan

Computerised tomography – Scan which uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body


see Barrister


See compensation


Financial award should the case be successful.

Data Protection Act

The Data Protection Act gives us authority to obtain copies of your medical records and other records with your consent.


A temporary decrease in the fetal heart rate.

Decubitus Ulcer

Pressure sores or bed sores

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Blood in one of the deep veins of the body


The reasons why the defendant disputes your case.


The person against whom the claim is brought.


Ankle motion - the foot and toes are moved upward from the ground.


Encephalopathy is a term for any diffuse disease of the brain that alters brain function or structure

Condition and Prognosis

Refers to a prognosis obtained from a doctor or surgeon explaining how your injuries have affected you and may affect you in the future.

Community Legal Service (CLS)

Legal information resource.

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

Irritation of the median nerve in the wrist causing tingling and numbness in the thumb, index and middle fingers.


The lowest part of the uterus

Case Management Conference (CMC)

This takes place after Court proceedings have been issued. The Court decides a likely time table for the case.


A tube used for draining the bladder.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

A compression of the cauda equina nerves most often caused by a prolapsed disc pressing on the nerves. This can cause loss of sensation and control over the bladder, bowels and sexual function. It can also cause loss of power and sensation to the lower limbs.


The presentation of a fetus head first


An area of the brain

Cerebral Palsy

An umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions.

Cerebral Vascular Accident CVA

A stroke.

Cervical Vertebrae

The cervical vertebrae are the vertebrae in the neck.


Runners Knee’ – Irritation of the under surface of the kneecap


Triangular bony structure located at the bottom of the vertebral column

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

A complex syndrome with symptoms of lethargy, insomnia, depression, joint pains, lack of concentration and general malaise.

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome

Also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy- pain and swelling in one part of the body.

Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS)

A genetic test for serious fetal abnormalities performed by removing a sample of the placenta.

Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)

The Rules that govern cases that are dealt with in the Civil Court.


The person bringing the claim.

Claim Form

This is the document that starts Court proceedings.


Collar bone.

Clinical Negligence

When the acts and /or omissions of a Medical professional(s) falls below a reasonable standard of care which results in a quantifiable injury to the claimant.

Clostridium Difficile

Bacterium which can cause a range of disease from antibiotic-associated diarrhoea to life-threatening pseudo-membranous colitis. A type of hospital acquired infection.

Testicular Torsion

When the spermatic cord is twisted, blood supply to the testicle and surrounding structures within the scrotum is cut off. Symptoms include the sudden onset of severe pain in one testicle. The condition is more common in adolescence and during infancy.

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