Posted: August 15th, 2013
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has produced a report in which it finds that compensation claims for injuries due to a missed diagnosis are the most common cases brought for GP malpractice.
“The Epidemiology of Malpractice Claims in Primary Care: A Systematic Review” was prepared for the RCSI by the Centre for Primary Care Research in Dublin and published recently in the British Medical Journal. The aim of the review was to identify which areas of primary care in Ireland required specific attention when preparing educational and risk management strategies for GPs and other front-line healthcare professionals.
Among the key findings in the review, the misdiagnosis of cancer – specifically lung cancer, colon cancer and breast – and medication errors stood out as the main grounds for adult patients making GP malpractice claims, while the majority of claims for injuries due to a missed diagnosis for children centred around cases of meningitis and appendicitis.
The lead researcher for the review – Dr Emma Wallace – acknowledged that reviewing cases of GP malpractice may not be the preferred methodology to identify in which areas of primary care the most attention was required; however, she did accept that compensation claims for injuries due to a missed diagnosis were creating an environment where GPs and front-line healthcare professionals were practising more defensively.
The review found that more patients are being referred by GPs to consultants than ever before – potentially delaying an accurate diagnosis and placing further pressure on the Irish health service – because of the risk of litigation should they make a mistake. It also highlighted that medical practitioners, against whom claims for injuries due to a missed diagnosis are made, are often subject to higher levels of stress which reduces their effectiveness to make correct diagnoses and places more patients at risk of an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition.
Dr Wallace – who herself is a GP – said that the problems identified in “The Epidemiology of Malpractice Claims in Primary Care: A Systematic Review” should provide an insight into the nature of adverse events in GP´s surgeries and hospital outpatients´ departments, and the reasons why they happen. This should then reduce the number of claims for injuries due to a missed diagnosis in Ireland and eventually improve the standard of healthcare provided by front-line health professionals.
Categories: Compensation News