This site is intended for health professionals only

Complaints rise against GPs for ‘ticking the wrong boxes’

GPs are at risk of facing potential negligence claims by ticking the wrong box on patient assessment forms, the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland has found.

The MDDUS has seen an increase in calls from its members facing patient complaints due to errors filling out assessment forms – with HGV licence applications proving to be the most problematic due to changes in the format.

The defence union found that 10% of communication error complaints against GPs made to the GMC involved a doctor error on an assessment form.

Risk adviser Alan Frame added: ‘We have had cases resulting in claims simply because a doctor ticked the wrong box or missed out important information on a form. There is always a risk of human error – especially when resources are stretched. Our experience tells us that even routine tasks in a busy practice can have consequences for doctors.

‘Lapses in concentration and poor attention to detail can have a serious effect on quality and safety. The chance of a simple error occurring increases when undertaking tasks that may be repetitive and routine in nature.’

The GMC’s current Good Medical Practice guidance states: ‘You must make sure that any documents you write or sign are not false or misleading. You must take reasonable steps to check the information is correct.’

Last year, figures from MDDUS revealed a rise in the number of claims made against GPs in 2012, despite claims against hospital doctors decreasing.