Medical negligence claims against GPs increase

There was a large rise in the number of medical negligence claims filed against GPs last year, according to the Medical Defence Union.

The MDU insures more than 50% of GPs in the UK and it says it received an additional 20% more claims in 2010 than in the previous years. Although claims have risen across all specialties, the biggest jump has been in the area of general practice.

60% of medical negligence claims against GPs concern either delayed or incorrect diagnosis. 15% of complainants were angered at a GP’s refusal to issue a referral and a further 10% claimed they had received errors in their medication.

Last year, 13 claims resulted in medical negligence compensation awards in excess of £1 million. In 1995, the MDU only paid out more than £1 million in one instance. Recent claims brought against GPs by medical negligence solicitors include £4.5 million for a child who had meningitis and £3.8 million for a woman who suffered a brain haemorrhage.

The MDU’s head of claims, Jill Harding, said the increase in the number of claims is a recent trend that could be attributed to the availability of ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements. Hard economic times may also be a contributing factor. She went on to reassure the public that there is no evidence to suggest that the standard of care provided by GPs has deteriorated in any way.

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