Medical negligence is a growing concern for all, patients and physicians. Over the past few years the health service has saw many scandals hit the headlines for all different reasons, but negligence that happens within medicine can be catastrophic for patients and their families. A massive 1.1 billion pounds has been paid out by 20 hospital trusts due to medical neglect in one year alone. Doesn’t it make more sense to plough this money into more physicians for our ever growing population and training so that they are aware of the ever changing innovation that are discovered within medicine so that patients can be treated with a better standard of care?
Hospital trusts have over the past five consecutive years have had to pay out a total of 4.5 billion pounds for medical negligence claims and mistakes in the UK. It comes as no surprise that patients and the general public are losing faith with the health service and even certain hospitals have no belief in themselves as mistake after mistake are hitting news paper headlines almost on a daily basis. The fact that statistics are showing that medical neglect scandals are happening more than 4 times as much than a decade ago proves without doubt that the health service is in crisis. According to the Red Cross the health service is experiencing a Humanitarian crisis. What is causing this massive increase? And how can we prevent such negligence within our health care service?
There is no denying that misdiagnosis is s a major concern, as many as 12,500 patients of the health service died in one year alone as they are not being diagnosed correctly or are receiving a diagnosis that is delayed. Some illnesses are diagnosed so late that they become irreversible resulting in fatalities. A hospital in the south of the country paid out the highest amounts in compensation during a 3 year period for medical misdiagnosis. 13.8 Million was paid out over 3 years by the hospital in regards to 55 different cases for medical blunders concerning misdiagnosis. If you feel that you have suffered a misdiagnosis or medical neglect that has had a direct effect on your health then you may be able to make a claim for medical negligence compensation.
There is a huge burden on the NHS every year to payout massive sums of money in terms of compensation to those who have suffered at the hands of physicians and medical staff who have offered nothing more than a poor standard service. A major concern is that liability is being drawn out, critics have said that if hospitals admit that they are wrong at the earlier stages of medical negligence compensation cases then costs can be largely reduced.
How Common Is Medical Negligence?
The NHS is without a doubt one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It serves the entire population of the United Kingdom and treats thousands of people everyday. It does this in the face of budget cuts and staff shortages. This, in turn, has had a knock-on effect. Staff work longer hours for less pay. Fatigue and stress can develop, which can lead to mistakes.
To illustrate this, in 2019/20 alone, the NHS spent £2.3 billion settling medical negligence claims. Of this figure, maternity claims represent half the value. You can discover more in NHS Resolution’s annual report.
In the same year, a further 11,682 new claims were submitted, an increase of around 1,000 new claims compared to 2018/19. The top three causes of these claims were:
- Emergency medicine – 1,401 claims
- Orthopaedic surgery – 1,361 claims
- General surgery – 943 claims
Find out more on NHS Resolution’s statistics page.
It’s clear that medical negligence is a significant challenge facing the health service. With greater investment, the figures above can hopefully be reduced. If, however, you are unfortunately impacted by clinical negligence, there are steps you can take to try and rectify the situation.
For example, if you’re harmed during orthopaedic surgery and it can be shown that the surgeon acted in ways they shouldn’t have, thereby breaching their duty of care, you could be entitled to medical negligence compensation. It’s therefore recommended to seek legal advice on the incident.
What else can be done to reduce Medical Neglect and their ever rising costs?
Seems like a pretty straight forward question, however if it is that easy to answer why are medical negligence incidents rising? It is clear that the health service needs new ways to prevent such negligence from occurring on a regular basis. Statistics are very clearly showing a rise in medical negligence year on year, more and more medical mistakes are happening and action is needed immediately.
It is true that medical negligence stems from the inaccuracy and substandard care provided by the minority of health care workers and physicians, and that is where the health care service need to start when it comes to drastically overhauling the health care service. However if we look beyond what is in front of us wouldn’t it be an idea if more patients and the public was educated on certain aspects of the health service?
Making patients and the public aware of what to expect when receiving treatment and medication from the health service could be a way of reducing medical negligence, if patients are aware of the standard of treatment they should be receiving while seeing their GP or attending an hospital appointment they have a greater knowledge to be able to judge for themselves if they are being treated correctly. This in turn can but a stop to any poor treatment they are receiving and neglect may be controlled and acted up on before it’s even started.
Up to date and upcoming new Medical Innovations
Keeping the public up to date with any new medical treatments and medicines could also stem the growth of negligence as patients can make more informed decisions on the type of treatment they can opt for. Helping the doctor by offering your own opinion could mean a patient receives better care and a better sense of involvement.
Misdiagnosis is a major concern for all, much of the medical neglect that takes place within the health service happens due to either medical neglect or medical misdiagnosis. A huge way we could help patients and the public reduce the amount of misdiagnosis is informing them on a wider scale of the symptoms and signs of diseases that are plaguing our society. Many people are ignorant to the onset of some of the major illnesses that cause great harm to the human body, educating people of symptoms could mean that diagnoses could happen earlier. If patients are armed with the ability to spot as many signs as they can if an illness or disease attacks their body then they can better inform the physician of what they are experiencing. Educating people on the possible signs of illness can mean that they can make better informed decisions on their health not leaving their health in the hands of doctors that may neglect to notice or diagnose certain illnesses.
Being a Better Patient
Becoming a more informed patient may not always reduce medical negligence however it offers the patient a lot more control over what happens to their bodies. It was once the concept that ‘Doctor knows best’ but that has longed been phased out with the growing neglect people are experiencing right across the board of the health care system. Teaching people what to look out for in terms of illness and disease could mean that they can event take preventive methods to prevent certain ill-health. NHS doctors, GP’s, nurses see many patients each day, if a patient comes in with a comprehensive list of symptoms then their illness is likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage allowing them to receive treatment at the earliest possible moment. This does not mean however that doctors do not have to be vigilant and precise when listening to and examining patients but as the numbers continue to grow for medical neglect maybe it’s time the patient had some control over the health service.