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Claims against GPs for meningitis 'total £28m'

Medical defence experts say they have paid out over £28m over four years in claims against GPs involving meningitis or meningococcal disease.

The figure raises questions over a recent preliminary judgment from Department of Health advisers that immunisation for meningitis B should not be included in the infant schedule.

The Medical Defence Union said it had paid £28m from 2008 to 2012 to settle 17 medical negligence claims involving meningitis or meningococcal disease on behalf of its GP members.

Dr. Sharmala Moodley, deputy head of claims at the MDU, said: ‘Failure to diagnose meningitis can have devastating consequences for patients, some of whom will suffer irreversible injuries such as brain damage, loss of limbs and organ damage.

‘This is reflected in the high costs of compensation payments, especially where cases involve children who may need care for many years to come.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • Tragic as meningitis is (and as a parent and GP it strikes the fear of god into me) it seems to me that the lawyers have a nice little racket going on here. The problem is that the initial symptoms of meningitis bear all the hallmarks of the common cold but progresses very rapidly to septicemia. There is an extremely narrow window between the child looking just a bit squiffy and toxic enough for the penny to drop before the worst happens. If you happen to examine the child at the wrong stage it seems almost inevitable the doctor will make an error.

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  • I suspect most of claims relate to poor documentation and lack of appropriate safety net. If the child has no red flags for serious illness at the time you see them, and you document this, and you give parents appropriate safety net advice, then I would think this would be a good defence. If you don't document or provide this safety net advice, then you are fodder for the lawyers to have a field day!

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