What are the Most Common Medical Negligence Claims in the UK?

The NHS treated one million people every 36 hours on average through 2014/15, while there’s no doubt that our National Health Service has been placed under increased pressure since this date.

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With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the NHS in England faces paying out £4.3 billion in medical negligence claims as of January 2020, with this type of complication a natural consequence of an under-funded and overwhelmed system.

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But what are the most common types of medical negligence claims? Here’s our breakdown of the most widespread case triggers.

#1. Prescription and Medication Errors

We’ll start with what’s arguably the most common cause of medical negligence claims on these shores; namely prescription and medication errors.

Every day in the UK, hundreds of thousands of prescriptions are written and dispensed, and while the majority are obviously processed without error, there are instances where problems and errors can occur.

These instances can often be incredibly serious, as taking the wrong medication (or an incorrect dosage) can cause severe allergic reactions, digestive issues, brain damage and, in the worst case scenario, even death.

The most common iterations of this error see the wrong medication either prescribed or administered by a pharmacist, while dispensing an incorrect dosage also underpins numerous medical negligence cases. This is also the most common example of GP negligence, although it’s regularly under-reported and underestimated within the industry.

#2. Medical Misdiagnosis

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Another common instance of medical negligence is misdiagnosis, which can occur at GP surgeries and hospitals and often leads to significant and unnecessary suffering among patients.

According to an article by The Daily Telegraph, up to one-in-six patients treated in NHS hospitals and GP surgeries were misdiagnosed back in 2009, and this figure has been relatively steady in the years since.

This can manifest itself in two ways; such as when a condition is completely missed and ends up going undiagnosed or when an incorrect diagnosis is made in the first instance.

Obviously, medical misdiagnosis can underpin potentially high compensation payouts, so such cases are relatively high-profile in instances where they reach court.

#3. Surgical Negligence

Like most instances on our list, the majority of surgeries carried out in the UK are incredibly successful.

However, there are instances where mistakes are made during surgery, with certain types or errors (usually the most serious) described by the government as “never events”. These are so-called as they should never happen, placing a significant burden of blame on the practitioner and potentially triggering significant compensation claims.

Between April 1st and October 31st 2015, 190 never events were recorded across the length-and-breadth of the UK, with the most common errors being performing surgery on the wrong body part (79 instances) and 46 patients retaining a foreign object following surgery.

These incidents can be highly damaging and often underpin huge medical negligence claims, although they’re also the rarest and least likely to occur over time.

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