Membership information +852 2528 5327
Dentolegal advice +852 2528 5327

I’ve received a clinical negligence claim – what happens next?

23 May 2019

It is not unusual for a clinician to experience a negligence claim during their working life. When it does happen, it can be a very stressful time – but as a Dental Protection member, you can call on us for expertise, reassurance and support

What is a claim?

A claim is a demand for compensation where it is alleged there has been negligence on the part of a practitioner in their treatment or management of a patient causing injury and loss.

Every practitioner owes a duty of care to his or her patient and for a claim to succeed the patient must prove that, on a balance of probabilities, there has been:

1. Breach of duty

Where the standard of care has fallen below that to be reasonably expected and which would not be supported by a responsible body of opinion within the relevant specialty.


2. Causation

Where the breach of duty has caused or contributed to some injury, damage or loss to the patient.

Importance of early notification

The sooner we know of an incident or complaint, the sooner we can work to stop it escalating to a claim. There are strict rules and deadlines to comply with, so delays may affect advice we provide and increase legal costs.

A claim often starts with a request for a patient’s clinical records. If you receive this or any other notification of a potential claim, it is important to provide us with as much information as possible, as quickly as possible.

If you receive a Letter of Claim detailing allegations of negligence, please forward it to us immediately and do not respond.

If you receive court proceedings, or the patient’s representative informs you that court proceedings are to be issued, please contact us urgently. If court proceedings are not correctly acknowledged within a 14-day timescale, the patient’s representative can apply for a Judgement ordering that the patient has succeeded in their claim against you.

Please contact us if you are ever in doubt. Our advice line is available on +852 2528 5327, or you can email [email protected] to discuss a claim.

Importance of early co-operation

Following notification of a potential claim or complaint, it is important that you fully co-operate with us so we are best placed to progress and assist with your case.

With your full co-operation we can take care of all of the legal costs and compensation, or if a claim is without merit we will robustly defend it on your behalf.

We can manage your case from first notification to conclusion, including dealing with correspondence on your behalf, assessing the strengths of your case, responding to the claim, liaising with the court and any co-defendants and, where appropriate, dealing with witness evidence and obtaining opinions from experts.

Meet your team

Our approach is to provide you with a substantial team that has the best balance of expertise and experience, tailored to the needs of your specific case. This includes our in-house legal teams, our dentolegal consultants and local panel lawyers.

Claims managers

Our claims managers provide a balance of legal and professional qualifications and expertise in clinical negligence claims to co-ordinate and manage your case. Claims managers are led by a claims lead, with extensive country-specific technical and claims knowledge and expertise in dealing with Hong Kong claims.

Dentolegal consultants

Our dentolegal consultants, dentists who are specialists in legal medicine, have a broad range of skills and experience across a wide breadth of dental fields. This level of expertise helps to ensure that we provide excellent analysis of your case, as well as giving you access to support from a fellow professional.

Professional support

Our team is supported by dedicated paralegal, administrative, secretarial and operational teams, to ensure that claims are managed as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Panel attorneys

We also work with a carefully selected panel of local legal firms with specialist knowledge of
clinical negligence.

Will my membership subscriptions increase?

In the majority of cases a claim will not impact upon your subscription. If you have any
questions about your subscription, then our membership team can discuss these with you.

What happens if I have more than one claim?

Most dentists will experience difficulties from time to time, but there are a few who experience more problems than their colleagues. We work with those members to help them reduce their likelihood of future claims or complaints.

Will the Dental Council of Hong Kong be involved?

In some cases, the patient or their representative might complain to the Dental Council of Hong Kong (DCHK). In the event that you receive correspondence from the DCHK please contact your team who will advise you further.

Reduce your risk of a claim

At Dental Protection, we believe prevention is better than cure. There are a number of things you can do to minimise the likelihood of a claim in the future:

  • Maintain good communication with patients, seek valid consent and keep clear, contemporaneous records.

  • Stay on top of your personal development. As a Dental Protection member, you have access to a range of free risk management CPD, including workshops, webinars and online learning. Find out more at

Our specialist advice line for members in Hong Kong is available on +852 2528 5327, or you can email [email protected] to discuss a claim