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Warning on legal threats

Inadequate investigations, poor communication and misfiled reports are among the lapses leaving GPs open to legal action, the Medical Defence Union warns. And latest MDU data shows delayed diagnosis is the focus of half of all claims against GPs – with more than 100 successfully sued last year.

The MDU has released new guidance on how to avoid legal action, along with figures highlighting cancer, orthopaedics, obstetrics and gynaecology as the areas where the diagnosis was most often missed (see graph for the percentage breakdown).

Helen Goodwin, clinical risk manager at the MDU, said good communication with patients and clear and accurate record taking were critical.

Dr Mayur Lakhani, chair-elect of the RCGP, warned compensation culture and increased patient expectations meant GPs had to be more aware of the risks of legal action.

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