MDU Sees Increase in Medical Negligence Claims against Practise Nurses

Posted on: March 11th, 2016 by Editor

The Medical Defence Union has identified a twelve-fold increase in medical negligence claims against practise nurses according to a new report.

The Medical Defence Union is an organization for medical professionals that provides legal support and insurance against medical negligence claims for its members. According to recently released figures, medical negligence claims against practise nurses belonging to the organisation increased from two claims in 2005 to twenty-five claims in 2015.

The figures released by the Medical Defence Union are similar to those published by the Medical Protection Society in 2012. Both organisations say that the increase in medical negligence claims against practise nurses is attributable to greater demands being placed on primary care, a change in the roles of practise nurses, and a greater knowledge of patients´ rights.

Within both sets of figures, the most common reason for medical negligence claims against practise nurses is missed or late diagnoses. Missed or late diagnoses accounted for more than double the next most common reason for medical negligence claims against practise nurses – the failure to properly monitor and manage chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Dr Beverley Ward – the medico-legal advisor at the MDU – identified three key areas that were significant factors for the rise in medical negligence claims against practise nurses. She said that the failure to adequately assess a patient´s condition, the subsequent delay in referring the patient to a GP or specialist, and failure to adequately monitor the progression of a disease were all factors that needed addressing.

Dr Ward added that practise nurses are seeing more and more patients that traditionally would have been seen by a GP, and commented:“Many practices have devolved more responsibility to nurse practitioners in their team to cope with the increasing demand. However, in taking on roles such as assessing and diagnosing patients, prescribing medicines, and running minor injury clinics, nurse practitioners are also at an increased risk of patients holding them individually accountable if something goes wrong.”


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