NHS ‘misdiagnosing 15% of patients’

  • Posted

Posted 21/09/2009

The NHS could be leaving itself open to clinical negligence claims, as one in six patients are currently being misdiagnosed.

A study by the Imperial Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality at Imperial College London found that mistakes have been made by clinicians in about 15 per cent of cases.

Researchers said this is partly because many doctors were hesitant about asking for assistance from senior members of staff.

In addition, some were found to be judging symptoms exhibited by patients too hastily.

Commenting on the findings, Peter Walsh of Action Against Medical Accidents said: “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Speaking to the Telegraph, he added: “There is no mandatory reporting of missed diagnoses so the true scale cannot be known.”

The study comes after Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said there is no excuse for avoidable mistakes being made by the NHS.

Sandra Patton, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor at Ashtons Legal, commented: “We are regularly approached by patients who have been misdiagnosed.

“Sometimes, such errors can have devastating consequences for our clients and I have, for example, dealt with numerous cases involving misdiagnosis of cancer that otherwise could have been treated and cured.

“There are many reasons why these errors happen and it is very disturbing that we are still seeing the same errors we were seeing 20 years ago.

“Lessons need to be learned every time there is a preventable error and action taken to stop it happening again.”


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