Membership information 1800 932 916
Medicolegal advice 1800 936 077

1 in 4 GP claims involved a delay in cancer diagnosis, reveals Medical Protection’s learnings report

19 March 2021

A quarter of clinical negligence claims against GPs in Ireland between 2017-2020 involved a delayed diagnosis of cancer, according to a report from the Medical Protection.

Medical Protection’s report ‘Learning from cases – insight into the claims landscape for Irish General Practitioners’ was presented at the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP)’s GP Trainees conference today.

Medical Protection, the world’s leading protection organisation for healthcare professionals, supporting over 21,000 in Ireland - analysed over 2,000 GP cases for its report including claims, complaints, regulatory cases and requests for advice on a wide range of legal and professional issues faced by GPs. It identifies common themes and pitfalls to help GPs learn from these cases and mitigate risk.

From the claims involving a delayed cancer diagnosis, nearly half related to female cancers – breast, cervical and endometrial cancer – with breast cancer being the most frequent cancer involved in the claims reviewed.

Prostate cancer was the next most common cancer involved in claims, followed by lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and malignant melanoma.

Aside from delayed cancer diagnoses, more than 15% of GP claims involved alleged medication or prescribing errors, and around 10% involved allegations arising from procedures or minor surgery.

Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at Medical Protection said:

“Claims for compensation in general practice can lead to large financial settlements. The value of the settled claim may include compensation for care and loss of earnings, in addition to an award for the damage that resulted from a breach of duty. The value of each claim varies enormously with our highest GP total case payment (claimant damages, costs and legal costs), being in excess of €8m.

“The decision to take legal action is influenced not only by the original injury, but also by the patient’s perception of the process, how information was provided and whether, or how, an explanation and an apology were given.

“We understand GPs work in complex and pressured environments, and we know that experiencing a medicolegal case can be concerning and stressful. At Medical Protection we want to share our knowledge, experience and expertise in order to support members in their everyday clinical practice and reduce their medicolegal risk.

“We’ve studied over 2,000 cases in order to develop this collection of case studies, statistics and analysis and give GPs a view of the current claims environment. It includes common pitfalls and themes that result in a case and importantly, key learning points to help GPs avoid the problems other have faced.”

Earlier this month, Medical Protection wrote to the Minister of Justice, Helen McEntee TD welcoming the government’s commitment to modernising the court system. The high cost of claims and lengthy proceedings continue to have a negative impact on both patients and healthcare professionals.

Read the Learning from cases – insight into the claims landscape for General Practitioners in Ireland here.

ENDS

For further information contact: Suzi Salleh | suzi.salleh@medicalprotection.org | +44 779 080 7722

About Medical Protection

Medical Protection is a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of more than 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.