Archive for August 2013

Report Reveals Most GP Negligence Claims are for Misdiagnoses

A report conducted on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has revealed that most GP negligence claim are for misdiagnoses.

The research into negligence claims against GPs was conducted at the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin. Its purpose was to determine which areas of primary care should be concentrated on when compiling future educational strategies and developing risk management systems for healthcare professionals.

The final report revealed that the most GP negligence claims are for misdiagnoses of injuries and illnesses, with the misdiagnosis of cancer being the most frequent individual condition which gave plaintiffs grounds to claim compensation.

Admitting that GP negligence claims for misdiagnoses are “not a perfect substitute for adverse events” lead researcher Dr Emma Wallace – who is herself a GP – released a list of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions. For adults these included the misdiagnosis of breast cancer, colon cancer and cancers of the skin; while children with appendicitis and meningitis were most likely to be misdiagnosed.

Dr Wallace hopes that the findings of the research will improve the primary care received by patients. She acknowledges that the number of GP negligence claims for misdiagnoses is increasing and, as GPs in fear of litigation practice more defensively, many more patients are being referred to consultants – potentially delaying an accurate diagnosis and enabling an injury or illness condition to deteriorate unnecessarily.

One important point mentioned by Dr Wallace is better educational strategies and risk management systems would result in fewer GP negligence claims for misdiagnoses, which in turn would result in a better level of healthcare by GPs. Dr Wallace found that when GPs are facing litigation, their level of stress increases, which reduces the level of service they are able to provide.

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Compensation for NHS Brain Injury Awarded to Child

A thirteen year old boy, who developed cerebral palsy due to an alleged case of medical negligence, has been awarded £7.3 million compensation for NHS brain injury in an out-of-court settlement.

Robbie Crane (13) from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, suffered brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and epilepsy following surgery at Harefield Hospital in October 1999 to treat the congenital heart problems he was born with several days earlier.

Mr Justice Tugendhat at the High Court in London heard that the complicated artery ‘switch’ surgery was successful, but Robbie suffered brain damage in a 15-hour period after the operation because a ventilator keeping him alive had not been adjusted properly. Robbie’s injuries mean he will never lead an independent life or earn his own living. He has no sense of danger and needs intensive supervision at all times.

Through his parents – Barrie and Catherine Crane – Robbie made a claim for NHS brain injury against the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, alleging that his condition was a direct result of medical negligence. The NHS Trust denied liability for his injuries, but made an offer of compensation for NHS brain injury based on 70 percent of what Robbie would have received in full settlement of his claim.

Under the out-of-court settlement, Robbie will receive a substantial lump sum immediately as well as annual, index-linked and tax-free payments to cover the costs of his care for as long as he lives. With his anticipated life expectancy, the total compensation for NHS brain injury package is valued at £7.3 million.

Although Robbie´s settlement was agreed “out-of-court”, the award still had to be approved by a judge as it related to a legal minor. After hearing the circumstances of the case and the NHS Trust´s legal representatives acknowledge that “things could have been done differently and better”, Mr Justice Tugendhat approved the settlement of compensation for NHS Brain injury – paying tribute to Robbie´s parents for the devotion they had given their son.

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