Diagnosis and prescribing key negligence risk areas, report shows

  • Date: 24 August 2022

IMPROVING diagnosis and prescribing processes are key to achieving better patient outcomes in general practice, a report from NHS Resolution has found.

Analysis of data from the first year of its state-backed indemnity scheme for general practice found that delay or failure to diagnose was a factor in nearly half of cases, while medication errors played a part in almost a fifth.

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP), managed by NHS Resolution, has covered NHS GP work in England since April 1, 2019.

NHS Resolution said that, while 90 per cent of patient contact in the NHS is via primary care, the number of claims was proportionally “very low”. It said that healthcare professionals in general practice “provide a very good service, despite difficult circumstances and rising numbers of patients with comorbidities.”

In the first year of the scheme, a total of 401 cases were reported to CNSGP, with the most common cases relating to cancer, sepsis and cardiac. This represents 3.4 per cent of the total number of clinical negligence claims notified to NHS Resolution (11,682) during that period.

The report also lists eight practical safety recommendations to reduce harm in general practice. These highlight the need for improved communication across primary and secondary care. They also recommend development of digital tools across the healthcare system, for example a ‘track and trigger’ system assessment tool for use in general practice to assist earlier identification of deteriorating patients.

NHS Resolution’s Chief Executive Helen Vernon said: “The amount of claims that have come through in the first year is a very small proportion of the total number of claims we received in the period the report covers. However, behind each number there is a patient who has experienced harm.

“It is paramount that healthcare providers understand what has gone wrong and are open and transparent with patients at the time the incident occurs.”

The report was also welcomed by the RCGP council chair Professor Martin Marshall as “a valuable learning opportunity” for general practice and the wider health service.

Read the full report

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