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GPs go forth

GPs likely to face two lawsuits over their career, claims defence body

GPs are likely to face two lawsuits over the course of their career, according to a report published by a medical defence body today.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) says a full-time UK GP outside Scotland is expected to be twice as likely to face legal action this year as they were seven years ago.

A survey of 600 GPs also revealed that 88% said they are more likely to be sued now than they were five years ago.

More than one in three (35%) had received a claim for clinical negligence during their medical career, and 14% in the past two years – compared with 2.5% who had complaints 11 to 15 years ago.

Dr Rob Hendry, medical director at the MPS, said: ‘Unfortunately, GPs are more likely to be sued now than ever before.

‘Worryingly, over a typical career, the average full-time GP could now expect to receive two claims against them if our recent experience is indicative of the continuing future environment for claims against GPs.’

The MPS highlighted the risks posed to doctors by the threat of lawsuits. Dr Hendry said: ‘Being sued can have a significant impact on the health of doctors, with 86% of GP survey respondents stating that their involvement in a claim impacted on their morale and 74% feeling it impacted on their confidence.’


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Readers' comments (12)

  • Working for 12 years as a doctor. Got my first solicitors letter. can expect another 2 if I work till the age of 68 like the government wants me to. Gotta leave it to the medical defence organisations. Thats what you pay them almost £1000 a session for. Its inevitable unless you investigate every single ache and pain and refer the vast majority of patients to secondary care. My own reflection on the whole thing? Practice defensively, investigate or refer most things, write water tight notes, the patient is always right, its easier to give them what they think they want as long as no harm comes to them than saying no and something goes is to short, spend time with family, do your work and get home to the ones who you genuinley enjoy spending time with. Your job will never look after you if you are sick, your family will always be there. Medicine is just a job and we must all try to treat as such, not a vocation where we need to take risks with people lives and be a gatekeeper to prevent people from getting specialist care and working all hours god has given us at the expense of not seeing our kids grow up and spending time with loved one. I genuinely hope this helps someone avoid going through what I am. Good luck and god bless you if you work in this unrelenting and ungrateful NHS.

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  • As a GP, I blame myself.

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  • As a GP, I blame GPs over 50 combined with inept leadership, socialists, and bleedin hearts.

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  • Not suprised but a life time as a GP will do 250000 or more consultations. SOmedays 50+ under time and patient duress. 2 mistakes - no way, 100s if not thousands of errors- 2 lawsuites not a bad strike rate.
    Having had one they cripple your confidence and likely make you practice more defensively and probably cause more harm to patients that's 'justified' in the terms of 'you can never be too careful!' Please read the Patient Paradox by Margaret McCartney

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  • Government needs to legislate a 'no-blame' approach. The human being is still beyond complete comprehension, nothing is guaranteed with healthcare, so protect all parties. The litigious society, one that is keen to get something for nothing and take no responsibility for themselves is far too happy to blame somebody else, but not accept healthcare and science is fallible.
    It is the professionals who are trying their best who suffer, the health service suffers with the need to practice defensively, and the NHS can't cope with the demand even without defensive referrals and investigations. Yet, when patients are demanding treatment and investigation, often not required but organised because GPs are too scared of complaints, the patient is exposing themselves to the risks of such.
    World all f*&£$% up!
    The joy of being a physician is dwindling rapidly!

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  • The legal industry is very lightly regulated compare to ours so it can speculate to accumulate and asset strip the NHS to destruction. The only beneficiaries in the long run are people who make money out of other people's misfortune. Individual GPs are pretty defenceless to resist such onslaught but for some reason neither out leaders or government are interested in reigning it in. Too many vested interests?

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  • > anonymous 12.52
    Paul McCartney's mum wanted him to become a doctor

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  • I bet Paul McCartney's mum is happy now he did not become a doctor.

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  • As a GP, I blame ourselves.

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  • I don't think we should get too wound up about this. We are in a period of transition. What patients through litigation are telling us is that they are no longer prepared to tolerate the risk that managing uncertainty entails. Our response must be to now minimise that risk (at their demand) by investigating and referring more. This will lead to a more expensive service but that is what they want. GPs now need to get with the programme and alter their practice.

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