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Tag Archive: misdiagnosis

Poor Care Leading to ‘Shocking’ Death Rate in NHS Hospitals

Hospital staff with oxygen mask Poor care leading to shocking death rate in NHS hospitals-min

Sick patients in NHS hospitals are dying ‘unnecessarily’ according to a new inquiry, with poor care and lack of equipment attributing to a worsening death rate.

Patients who need emergency help for breathing problems are most at risk, with one-third of inpatients dying due to ‘major flaws’ in the treatment they receive. The death rate for people with breathing difficulties is already high by international standards, and is getting worse.

The findings come as part of the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death study, which analyses patient outcomes across all NHS services. Investigators charged with publishing the NCEPOD report described the findings as ‘shocking’, blaming the sharp rise in deaths on mismanagement, delayed diagnosis and inadequate equipment across the health service.

Between February and March this year NCEPOD investigators examined 353 patients with serious breathing difficulties, and found that the vast majority received substandard treatment. Many of the patients assessed suffered from pneumonia, pulmonary disease or similar conditions which meant they couldn’t breathe unaided. In some cases, hospital staff failed to administer non-invasive intervention (NIV) through an oxygen mask, resulting in unnecessary death and suffering.

Shockingly, patients received poor care and inadequate monitoring of symptoms in four out of five cases. Treatment was often delayed due to a lack of equipment, and the failure of medical staff to recognise when NIV was needed. Doctors involved in carrying out the NCEPOD assessment were appalled by the findings, stating that their hard-hitting conclusions were justified.

In an emergency, NIV treatment administered in hospital is supposed to reduce the risk of death from 20% to 10%. However, the NCEPOD study revealed that the average death rate in the UK is closer to 35% — significantly higher than expected. By contrast, the death rate in Spain is 18% and 10% in France. According to historic NCEPOD data, the UK death rate has been rising since 2011, when it first reached a high of 30%.

Are Spending Cuts to Blame for High Death Rate in NHS Hospitals?

The NHS has faced crippling spending cuts in recent years, with resources severely impacted across all services. The NCEPOD report found that two out of five hospitals have been unable to cope with inpatients that need NIV help with breathing problems due to a lack of equipment, including basic ventilators which cost anywhere from £1,000 to £2,000.

The report also revealed that a shortage of nursing staff is partly to blame for rising death rates. Staff shortages were reported in one-half of all hospitals assessed by the NCEPOD, meaning that a vast majority are failing to offer the proposed staffing ratio of one nurse to two NIV patients — putting lives at risk.

While it’s clear the NHS spending crisis is partly to blame for the rising death rate, it’s troubling that many deaths could have been prevented by a timely and accurate diagnosis, and the administering of appropriate treatment and care.

Mismanagement, delayed diagnosis and poor treatment of NIV patients are inexcusable, and more must be done to improve services in NHS hospitals. It’s scandalous that the current UK death rate for NIV inpatients is nearly double that of other European nations — highlighting the gross failings of our health service.

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of serious health conditions can have a life-changing impact. If you or someone you know has been affected by medical negligence, visit our hospital complaints page to find out we could help.

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18/07/2017 No Comments

Survey highlights Brits’ concerns over medical misdiagnosis– but a fifth admit they won’t question GPs or specialists

Medical negligence

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.

Mary Badham medical misdiagnosis

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.

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22/08/2016 No Comments

Should health and wellbeing apps receive heavier regulations?

UntitledThe increase of a health conscious nation has led to a significant boom in medical health and wellbeing apps, with over 500 million users in the UK. The convenience of an instant diagnosis can be appealing, but some health apps offer inconsistent or inaccurate data. Without sufficient regulation, consumers could be at risk of misdiagnosis and avoid seeking appropriate medical advice.

British Life Science minister, George Freeman, stressed the importance and benefits of health apps by stating that: “We need to continue to encourage patients and citizens to use new technologies to better manage their health, care and treatment. And they need to feel confident in doing so.”

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20/11/2015 No Comments

False positives and misdiagnosis

A study published in the Journal of Medical Screening this week has stated that breast cancer screening, by way of mammograms, saves the lives of two women for every one patient who receives unnecessary treatment.

This can only be a good thing for the female population overall, but those who are given false positives are often forgotten.  In the main, they are eventually just grateful that the diagnosis has been incorrect and no long-term harm has been caused.  However, occasionally the misdiagnosis will result in unnecessary treatment, and the development of significant psychological conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder.

It must be remembered that diagnosis is an art, taking into account all the symptoms experienced by the patient.  As such, a degree of interpretation may come into the diagnosis and, if it is the case that most reasonable clinicians would have made the error, then the misdiagnosis must be put down to being one of life’s trials.  However, if a reasonably competent clinician would not have diagnosed the cancer incorrectly, and that, as a result of the error, some harm has occurred, then there may be a legal claim for clinical negligence.  The harm could be unnecessary procedures, even surgery, and/or the development of a recognised psychological disorder.  It must also be shown that this harm has been at least largely caused by the negligent diagnosis.

We cannot take away the positives of screening programmes.  For every 1,000 women screened in the breast cancer study, between 7 and 9 lives were saved and only 4 cases were over-diagnosed.  Clearly the screening programmes go towards the greater good and should not be criticised or reduced.  But let’s not forget that the statistics involve individuals whose lives may be changed by incorrect diagnosis.

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13/09/2012 No Comments

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