Lessons must be learned – by both medical professionals and patients themselves – given the latest figures on the late diagnosis of bowel cancer. A study by the University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has suggested almost one in five bowel cancer patients diagnosed in an emergency had ‘red flag’ symptoms which should have led to their illness being picked up earlier.
Tag Archive: caroline murgatroyd
Survey highlights Brits’ concerns over medical misdiagnosis– but a fifth admit they won’t question GPs or specialists
Unhappy patients say misdiagnosis of conditions leading to their illnesses getting worse and being given the wrong course of treatment are their biggest frustrations when seeing GPs and specialists.
A quarter of people (25%) questioned about their medical care said they felt their doctors simply didn’t give them enough time at their appointments, with one in 10 saying they feel a visit to a GP now rarely solves their health problem.
Of those unhappy with their medical care, one in five said it was because their illness had worsened after being misdiagnosed by a medical professional.
More than a quarter of those unhappy (26%) said they felt they had been given the wrong treatment, with 29% feeling medical professionals had simply failed to recognise their illness.
Overall, the vast majority of patients in the UK (86%) say they are happy with their own GP.
Despite a quarter bemoaning the lack of time given to appointments, a reluctance to ‘be a burden on the NHS’, and a belief that their conditions will improve without seeing a doctor has led to 92 per cent of people saying they only visit when they think they really have to.
Brits also admitted to being reluctant when it comes to expressing their concerns over their treatment, with less than one in five (18%) saying they’d feel confident enough to challenge a diagnosis given to them.
The research has been conducted by medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, who support many patients in cases involving late diagnosis or misdiagnosis of serious conditions.
Caroline Murgatroyd, a clinical negligence specialist at the firm, says the survey results are concerning in that many people have indicated reluctance to see their doctor – and that a high percentage will not ask questions.
She has urged people to visit their GP if they have a health concern.
She said: “What we can see from this research is that, although overall there is quite rightly a great deal of trust placed in medical professionals, there is also a growing reluctance to go to the doctor in the first place, as many people are of the opinion that their appointments are too rushed, they do not wish to trouble the doctor or they believe their illness will simply get better on its own.
“Whilst we don’t want to see doctors’ surgeries full because people are visiting unnecessarily, what we would say is that it is vital that people seek professional medical advice when they notice an unexplained change in their health.
“On top of this, the survey suggests the vast majority of people in the UK feel reluctant to challenge a medical professionals’ diagnosis.
“We see patients and families who have harboured concerns about their treatment for weeks, months and sometimes years. These concerns have all too often been dismissed and a full investigation of the potential cause of the illness has not been carried out.
“If you feel unhappy with a diagnosis from a doctor or specialist we would suggest raising this with your doctor and if you do not receive an adequate explanation it may be worthwhile asking for a second opinion.”
The research findings follow a recent case in which Mary Badham, 65, was referred to a specialist by her own GP after displaying ‘red flag’ symptoms of bowel cancer.
The specialist dismissed it as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), sending her home with tablets and without carrying out a colonoscopy.
Two years later, Mrs Badham was invited to attend Bowel Cancer Screening as part of the national NHS’ screening programme, where she discovered she had cancer and that it was terminal. She died less than three years later, in April 2014, aged 72.
Now, her husband Ron Badham, 79, and son Stephen, say they wish they had insisted tests be carried out, and are urging others to demand further investigation by medical professionals if concerns seem to be too easily dismissed.
They took legal action through Hudgell Solicitors, resulting in the trust which runs the hospital where she was seen admitting its failure to carry out a colonoscopy in 2009 amounted to breach of duty.
Hospitals failing to report x-ray scan results is inexcusable and can only increase risk of conditions being missed
It is with great concern that I have read reports this week suggesting that as many as 11,000 x-rays went unreported on at UK hospital Trust, potentially putting patients at risk by delaying required treatment.
Media reports surfaced claiming that Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust failed to assess and write up the results of scans used to diagnose the health problems of more than 10,000 patients at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Kidderminster Hospital.
Put simply, x-rays were being requested and taken, and although no doubt looked it by a clinician, final results and conclusions were not recorded after close inspection by a radiologist – the person most qualified to assess them and most likely to spot any areas of concern others may miss.
In our work handling medical negligence compensation claims at Hudgell Solicitors, we know all too well how important it is for all x-rays to be closely studied by the appropriate medical staff and reported on as soon as possible at all times.
Late diagnosis of conditions can have huge impact on patient’s future health
Serious conditions can often be missed by the naked eye when x-rays are first assessed, even by very experienced doctors.
In supporting many families in misdiagnosis or late diagnosis compensation claims, our teams of specialist solicitors see all too often how an individual’s chances of recovery from serious conditions can be badly affected by the shortest of delays in accessing relevant treatment.
The revelations at this Trust, which cares for patients across Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands, including Birmingham, followed an unannounced Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection, and led to interim chief medical officer Andrew Short quickly issuing a statement.
“The backlog is composed of mainly routine x-rays requested by our hospital medical staff which are then made available to the referring clinician for review and action,” he stressed.
“Historically, these were not reported by a radiologist, and today we have put a new process in place to ensure that those x-rays that need the back-up of a radiology report in a timely way.
“There is no backlog of GP requested x-rays, CT, MRI or ultrasound scans. We have always and will continue to prioritise urgent x-rays, chest x-rays and GP requested x-rays, and there is no backlog in these areas.”
Words intended to allay concern but patients will require complete assurance that nothing has been missed on those x-rays and that steps are taken to ensure the x-rays are reviewed swiftly.
Whilst the x-rays are described as ‘routine’, hospital policy is that further, detailed assessment and reporting should be carried out. This policy has failed and it is unclear how any why this backlog has been allowed to occur.
Mr Short refers to the backlog as ‘mainly’ routine x-rays but the implication is that more serious matters may potentially have also fallen through the system and it is vital these are identified as a matter of priority.
A report in the Birmingham Mail suggested the CQC has criticised the Trust for having carried out no risk assessment of the potential harm to patients caused by these delays.
It also suggests the CQC was concerned ‘urgent’ scans were not always prioritised, meaning some GPs were not receiving patient results for more than two weeks. It all points to too many opportunities for mistakes to be made.
Failings are often due to poor systems and procedures, not skills of medical staff
Whilst the report from the CQC is awaited, there has clearly been a serious failure by the hospital Trust to follow their own practice and procedure.
Doctors, nurses and specialists often work under intense pressure, with the lives of others in their hands on a day-to-day basis.
We appreciate the fantastic job the huge majority on the NHS frontline do and accept and understand that human error and mistakes will occur
However, what cannot be accepted is basic procedures not being followed. This puts patients’ health at risk and is completely avoidable.
Changes need to be made to ensure this does not happen again.