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GP negligence complaints increase

19 May 2011

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There has been an almost 20% rise in the number of medical negligence claims against GPs, according to figures.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU), which insures more than 50% of GPs, said complaints increased by around a fifth in 2010 compared with 2009.

Although the MDU reported that the number of claims have risen across all specialties, the biggest rise has been in general practice.

Wrong diagnosis (60% of claims), a failure to refer patients (15%) and medication errors (10%) are the most frequent complaints from patients.

There was also a hike in the number of high value claims against GPs, according to the MDU, as 13 claims were assessed at over £1m last year.

By contrast, there was only one GP case that the MDU had to pay out compensation of more than £1m for in 1995.

The MDU said recent claims include £4.5m to a child damaged by meningitis who required full-time supervision, £3.5m to a young man with a brain injury following premature delivery and £3.8m to a woman following a brain haemorrhage.

Many claims followed complaints or reports of adverse incidents in previous years.

Only around 30% of all claims result in settlement, rising to about 50% of high value claims, the MDU said.

Copyright © Press Association 2011