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GP negligence compensation claims

General Practitioners are usually the first port of call when a patient develops an illness. If a GP fails to recognise the need to refer a patient to hospital or to a specialist for further investigations, there can be serious consequences for the patient. In some cases, a medical negligence claim could be made.

Common GP errors

Delayed referrals

Sometimes the failure to recognise the significance of infection, which could be meningitis and other acute symptoms including chest pains, results in avoidable out of hospital cardiac arrest. At other times, the failure to refer may take place over a long period of time during which a patient may visit the GP a number of occasions complaining of symptoms (for example, breast lumps, changes in bowel or bladder habit or headaches etc) with no referral being made for investigations. In the more serious cases, these delays may affect the patient’s treatment and, in the case of cancer, potentially reduce the chance of survival.

Failure to refer back to hospital

Where a patient has treatment in hospital, they are subsequently discharged back into the care of their GP. This can be for out-patient emergency care eg following an x-ray for a suspected fracture or for protracted care, perhaps with the assistance of the community nursing team following surgery and a stay as an in-patient.

Claims commonly pursued against GPs include circumstances where there is a suggestion of failure or delay in referring the patient back to hospital eg for a repeat x-ray for ongoing pain or further tests or follow up. Claims against hospitals may be complicated by concurrent treatment from GPs.

A GP can remain in charge of patient care and take over the follow-up when a patient is discharged from hospital. The remit and responsibility of a GP is extensive.

Treatment: medication errors

Longer term care from a doctor may result in errors eg a reduction or a change in long term medication for a condition or leaving a patient on repeat prescription for too long with inadequate monitoring or failing to refer a patient to a consultant for advice in a case involving a chronic condition.

Diabetic or asthma management

GPs are increasingly involved in the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma. This may be in conjunction with either a specialist diabetic team and local podiatry or a trained specialist practitioner for asthma. GPs are sometimes consulted by patients who present with acute symptoms eg an ulcerated toe or foot. Failing to refer appropriately in these circumstances could lead to avoidable harm. For asthma, this could involve inadequate monitoring.

A compensation claim against a GP can be particularly emotive, as many people remain with the same GP for many years and develop a particularly close relationship of trust.

Frequently asked questions

How do I make a claim?

There are numerous ways you can contact Clarke Willmott if you want to discuss your compensation claim with us. You can go through our website and access a form there and we will get back to you or you can simply telephone us, all of the numbers are available on our website and we’ll speak to you as soon as we can.

In reality, not every claim is worth pursuing – some cases are simply too complicated or expensive and have a poor chance of success. Start by seeking advice from one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors. The initial consultation is free and will help you understand whether your claim is likely to have a positive outcome for you.

How can I pay for the expenses of my claim?

One of the big things that concerns people when thinking about contacting a lawyer is how much is it going to cost them. And what we can do, is we can reassure you on that at the very start because we will be looking for the best solution for you. That can include working with you to see if you’ve already got any existing insurance cover that will cover your legal costs.

The alternative and most common way that we proceed with cases is on a no win, no fee basis. Which means that  there is little or no risk to the client. They are regulated by our regulator and so you can guarantee that it will be a proper product, you’ll be given full advice at the outset so that you can decide whether you want to proceed, but financially there should be very little risk, in fact no risk to you.

It’s important to consider how you’re going to pay your legal expenses especially as the cost of pursuing a medical negligence claim can be high. However, there are funding options available that could help reduce the expense, such as an existing insurance policy covering claims of this nature, a Conditional Fee Agreement (often called ‘no win no fee’) or legal aid.

Before you embark on your claim, we will talk you through:

  • The potential cost of pursuing your medical negligence claim
  • What percentage of these costs you might get back
  • What funding options are available to you.

How much compensation could I get?

n terms of thinking about how much compensation you will get, it’s important to note that every case is different. In our jurisdiction, we have a system that’s what we call a compensatory system. The object of bringing the claim is to put you back in the same position you would have been in, as best money can, as if you’ve never had the accident. So it’s impossible to say for any given case at the outset how much money people will get.

What we will do is we will look at all sorts of things that make up the value of the claim. So if you’ve been unable to work and had a loss of earnings, we’ll calculate that. We’ll make sure that we’re getting good advice from experts as to the cost of all the equipment, prosthetics, wheelchairs and everything else that you might need. We’ll also be able to include things like the claim for costs for care and assistance, for things that you can no longer mange yourself. But as I say, every case is individually assessed, and we will look at your case on an individual basis.

Every case is different, but here are some examples of compensation awarded to our clients:

  • £8.6 million – awarded to a child with cerebral palsy resulting from negligence during birth.
  • £1.5 million – awarded to a client who suffered a stroke due to negligence following a heart bypass procedure.
  • £500,000 – awarded to a family whose child suffered brain damage after a GP negligently failed to refer them to hospital.
  • £220,000 – awarded to a client who faced a delay in the treatment and diagnosis for a malignant melanoma.

If I have a claim, how long will it take?

One thing that concerns people who are bringing a claim is how long it’s all going to take? When are they going to get their compensation.  And there is really two things to say about that. The first is this: If we can establish liability on your behalf, we can prove that someone else is at least partly to blame for your injuries, we can usually get interim payments on account of damages quite quickly so we can start to help you with financial concerns or to fund the things that you need at the earliest part of your case.

In terms of how long the whole claim will take, that is actually very dependant upon the medical position and how well you are going to recover from your injuries and when we’re going to know how well you’ve recovered from your injuries. Everybody’s injury is different. Some people can reach a final position within a matter of a few months or a year or so, other people require much more lengthy rehabilitation, perhaps a number of other medical procedures. And this is important because we will only want to try to settle your claim when we can reasonably predict the future. And in doing so, that makes sure that we get the right level of compensation for you.

Contact a medical negligence solicitor

If you have concerns about treatment you received from your GP and think you could have a claim call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

Your key contacts

Kerry Fifield

Partner and Clinical Negligence Team Manager

Kerry’s primary focus is the needs of the client and their family when pursuing a claim, taking into account that each client is an individual with specific requirements who needs to be supported in addition to the legal investigation.
View profile for Kerry Fifield >

Marguarita Tyne

Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Marguarita Tyne is a claimant clinical negligence solicitor who investigates and brings claims on behalf of patients who have been injured during the course of their medical treatment, acting mainly (but not exclusively) for brain injury claimants in high value and often complex litigation.
View profile for Marguarita Tyne >

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