Negligence by a GP

We all rely on our GP’s as the front line of medical services and the gateway to further treatment and diagnosis. All of us will see a GP at some point in our lives. The relationship between a patient and GP is one of trust.

Most GP appointments are short. During usually a 5- 10 minute consultation a GP should listen to concerns, consider your symptoms and come to a working diagnosis and provide advice and treatment.

It is usually the GP who sees the first signs of a medical problem. Things can however go wrong. In our experience the most common causes of things going wrong are:-

a.)Failing to take a proper history or investigate symptoms

b.)Failure to carry out a proper examination

c.)Failure to act on Clinical signs

Some symptoms are what is known as a red flags – an indicator for a certain condition or treatment. Ignoring such symptoms can mean an opportunity to prevent a condition is lost.

Just a few examples are:

Intermenstrual bleeding (bleeding that occurs anytime outside of a woman’s menstrual cycle) being a possible sign of cervical cancer and requiring a physical examination to be carried out.

‘Thunderclap headache’ could indicate a subarachnoid haemorrhage

Loss of feeling to the legs and sudden incontinence can suggest the serious condition cauda equina

A change in the appearance of a mole – could indicate skin cancer

Failure to act upon such signs, or failing to interpret abnormal tests mean an opportunity to treat or prevent can be missed.

Our cases :We represented the family of a young mum who died due to the failure of her GP to recognise and treat a blood clot. Instead, the GP prescribed rest, ice and comfortable shoes, with catastrophic consequences. 10 days later the clot travelled from her leg into her lung, causing a pulmonary thromboembolism secondary to Deep Vein Thrombosis from which she sadly passed away. During the Inquest it emerged that, had she been properly assessed, additional precautions would have been taken that would have saved her life. At the Inquest, the GP told the court that he would conduct more thorough tests in the future. Pattinson and Brewer ensured that he was referred to the General Medical Council for a review. We also achieved a damages settlement of £100,000 on behalf the family.


BBC Report

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