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December 18th 2019

Medical Negligence

Does your NHS Trust have one of the worst misdiagnosis rates in the country?

Vince Shore

Vince Shore

Joint Head of Clinical Negligence, Hull

Does your NHS Trust have one of the worst misdiagnosis rates in the country?

There’s no doubt that the NHS and hardworking staff do an incredible job across the UK, but with inadequate funding and assessment, mistakes and errors around misdiagnosis are commonplace throughout the country.

There’s no doubt that the NHS and hardworking staff do an incredible job across the UK, but with inadequate funding and assessment, mistakes and errors around misdiagnosis are commonplace throughout the country.

Exploring the issue a little further, we investigated how much the health service has spent on delayed, wrong or failed diagnosis in the last year. Our research revealed that while claim settlements have fallen by nearly half (43%), the final amount paid from these incidents still amounted to an eye-watering £370 million which is an increase from previous years. 

It’s a massive concern that the NHS is spending the equivalent amount it would take to train over 5,000 nurses (or seven GPs)** on misdiagnosis errors.

At Hudgells, we see a lot of misdiagnoses and delayed diagnosis cases, in fact, 30% of claims taken on this year alone are due to a delayed or misdiagnosis. These range from the less severe injuries such as missed fractures to the saddest cases which can result in a loss of life, such as missed cancer cases. 

So which NHS Trusts were the worst offenders? We sent a Freedom of Information Request to find out which Trusts had the highest number of settled claims relating to failure, delay or wrong diagnosis:

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals were revealed as the NHS Trust with the highest number of claims relating to a delay, failure or wrong diagnosis, with 36 cases settled, totalling £4.6 million.

This could be a result of hospitals in the area struggling to recruit enough medical staff***

We also asked NHS Resolution which NHS Trusts paid out the most money for failure, delay or wrong diagnosis:

It’s interesting to see the Department of Health at the top of the list. Many people don’t realise they inherit historical claims which may explain why they’re so high. There is an interesting mix of NHS Trusts in the top 10 list to have paid out the most in settled claims, many with as little as five, suggesting the errors made had a severe impact. The higher settlements are generally a result of there being long term care needs or loss of earnings, and are often the result of significant brain injuries, spinal injuries or serious limb injuries and amputations, to name a few.

Recent research identified that the most common diagnostic errors which lead to serious injury or death are cancers, vascular events, such as strokes or heart attacks, and infections, like sepsis.

Although easier said than done, there are a number of things that would help to reduce the incidence of delayed and misdiagnosis cases. These include adequate funding to ensure timely consultant-led assessments, adherence to evidence-based “best practice” care pathways, establishing an environment where patients’ concerns are listened to, as well as better communication between different departments.

With the NHS set to play such a key role in the new government plans, it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on the rate of delayed and misdiagnosis.

If you think you might have suffered medical misdiagnosis, visit here for more information.

Sources

*Freedom of information request submitted to NHS Resolution by Hudgell Solicitors. Data received October 2019.

**https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/scharr/news/healthcare_immigration-1.473917

***https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/patients-lives-risk-hull-hospitals-2472147

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