Claims News

Report Finds Missed Diagnosis Claims are Responsible for Most GP Medical Negligence Cases

Posted on: August 22nd, 2013

A report commissioned by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has found that the most common reason for GP medical negligence cases is missed diagnosis claims.

The review of malpractice claims in primary care in Ireland was carried out at the Health Research Board Centre for Primary Care Research based at the RCSI in Dublin to establish which areas of primary care in Ireland should be highlighted when developing future educational strategies and risk management systems for healthcare practitioners.

The key findings of the review were:-

  • Compensation claims for a failure to diagnose or for a delay in diagnosing were the commonest reason for cases being brought against GPs for medical negligence in Ireland
  • The diagnoses most frequently cited in missed diagnosis claims for compensation were cancer and heart attacks for adults and meningitis for children
  • The annual prevalence of malpractice claims against GPs for missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis appears to be on the increase

Further Findings of the RCSI Review

The review of GP medical negligence cases established that the second most common reason for medical negligence claims against a GP in Ireland was medication errors – although this area grouped together prescription errors made by family doctors and administration errors made in hospitals.

Other areas where lead researcher Dr Emma Wallace found there was area for improvement was in the accident and emergency department, where the number of delayed diagnoses concerning appendicitis, ectopic pregnancies and fractures were consistent with previous reviews.

Dr Wallace – who is herself a GP – also commented that although a missed or delayed diagnosis of meningitis accounted for only 1% of all GP medical negligence cases, it accounted for 30% of the cost of settling missed diagnosis claims for children.

Benefits for both Doctors and Patients

Dr Wallace hopes that the consequences of the report will be to improve the primary care received by patients and early detection of breast cancer, colon cancer, melanoma cancer and cancers of the lung and female genital tract.

The report acknowledges that doctors facing GP medical negligence cases have also been shown to experience high levels of psychological distress and consequently have practiced more defensively and referred patients onto specialists – releasing the doctor from the fear of litigation, but the delaying the diagnosis of a serious condition.



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