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Sharp rise in negligence claims against practice nurses, says MDU

The number of clinical negligence claims against practice nurses have risen sharply over the past decade, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

Only two nurse practitioner members reported clinical negligence claims to the MDU in 2005 but climbed to 25 in 2015, the medical indemnity provider said.

MDU found that wrong or delayed diagnosis was the most common issue featured, featuring in 40% of claims and 30% of complaints. Other common reasons included delayed referrals and prescribing errors.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Beverley Ward said the rise may be linked to practice nurses taking on a wider clinical responsibility.

She said: ‘Many practices have devolved more responsibility to nurse practitioners in their team to cope with the increasing demand.

’However, in taking on roles such as assessing and diagnosing patients, prescribing medicines, and running minor injury clinics, nurse practitioners are also at an increased risk of patients holding them individually accountable if something goes wrong.’

The MDU could not provide figures on how the total number of nurse practitioner members had developed over the ten-year period.

It comes as Pulse has reported on increasing fees for GP practices covering practice nurses’ indemnity bills.

This included one practice nurse whose monthly indemnity bill was higher than their salary, while another GP practice was facing a £7,000 increase to cover indemnity for one nurse.