In recent years we’ve seen a growing rise in the number of medical negligence claims against the NHS. In part as a result of under-funding, loss of European workers, and pandemic, all of which have culminated in patients being at the receiving end of negligence.
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What is medical negligence?
Medical negligence, also termed clinical negligence, occurs when a GP or other healthcare professional breaches their Duty of Care to their patient. As a result of this breach, the patient suffers either physically or mentally.
Duty of Care refers to the obligations placed on people within the healthcare profession to act in a certain way when dealing with patients that meets certain standards, and when it is believed these standards aren’t met, it is classed as medical negligence.
It can never be over-stated that the NHS does a fantastic job. Administering healthcare for over 1 million patients every 36 hours, however, mistakes do happen. These unfortunate circumstances can have a catastrophic impact. It’s important to note that medical negligence claims aren’t to punish those at fault, but to understand how the incident occurred and to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The common types of medical negligence claim
1. Medical misdiagnosis
Medical misdiagnosis is the number one reason for medical negligence claims. They are categorised as missed diagnosis, late diagnosis, and incorrect diagnosis. Cancer is one of the most common misdiagnosed illnesses, followed by diabetes and meningitis.
2. Surgical negligence
Surgery is one of the most important treatments offered by the NHS in secondary care and whilst the majority of surgeries are successful, errors can and do happen. The most common instances of surgical negligence include: leaving a foreign object in the patient’s body, causing avoidable injury or damage to nerves or organs, and operating on the wrong body part.
3. Pregnancy and Gynaecological injuries
Gynaecological care refers to women during pregnancy, a routine cervical smear test, or more serious medical procedures such as a hysterectomy. Negligence can occur throughout pregnancy, or during routine check-ups.
4. Cancer care
A quarter of all deaths in the UK are caused by some form of cancer, which makes early diagnosis and appropriate treatment imperative – and a delay in either can have devastating consequences for not just the patient, but loved ones too. The most commonly misdiagnosed cancers are bowel, breast, cervical, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, skin and testicular. So, it’s important that if a patient thinks that something is wrong they keep going back to their GP.
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