The number of GP-related medical negligence claims made by patients has undergone a sharp increase over the last year, according to the Medical Defense Union.
Nearly 20 per cent more files were opened on GPs in 2010 than in the previous year, said the Medical Defence Union. The industry body provides more than half of the family and hospital doctors in the UK with insurance cover and medical negligence solicitors to defend against claims.
The organisation remarked that while claims had been up across the board the general practice sector had experienced the most marked rise. Late or wrong diagnosis was the most common accusation against GPs, with 60 per cent of cases concerning the issue.
Other common accusations were neglecting to refer patients to specialists – at 15 per cent of cases – while medication errors made up an additional 10 per cent of complaints. Additionally, claims involving more than £1 million in damages last year numbered thirteen – a stark increase from 1995 figures, when there was only one such case.
Due to commercial confidentiality concerns, however, the MDU declined to disclose the total figure in regards to the number of files it currently had open. MDU claims head, Jill Harding, remarked that the rising number of claims against GPs has been a more recent trend in the wake of a relatively stable period in this area.
The MDU has long been aware of the rising costs of medical negligence compensation, said Ms Harding. One contributing factor to these increased costs could be attributable to so-called no win no fee arrangements in which claimants can pursue litigation with little to no financial risk to themselves.