Your General Practitioner is often the first person to be consulted when you suspect serious illness. As such, a GP carries a heavy burden; if there is a likelihood of there being something seriously wrong, they need to refer on to a specialist; if not, they must keep under review, or simply reassure.
It is a difficult balance to strike, and sadly sometimes mistakes are made. In those circumstances, the Clinical Negligence Team can help.
Not all mistakes are negligent. However, if a competent GP would have made a referral to a specialist, for example, and your GP failed to do so, that could well amount to negligence. Similarly, if a GP were to prescribe you medication that no competent GP would have prescribed, you have received negligent care. In either event, you will be entitled to compensation if you have suffered harm as a result.
GP negligence claims cover a wide range of scenarios. A good example of when you might have a claim against your GP would be if you regularly went to your GP, complaining of a particular symptom (e.g. headaches) and the GP failed to investigate all possible causes, or didn’t refer you to a specialist when the problem didn’t resolve. Headaches are a good example because they may have a very sinister cause, such as a brain tumour, which needs to be eliminated, but much more frequently the cause will be far more trivial.
Compensation in GP negligence claims is awarded in two categories: firstly for your pain and suffering, and loss of ability to do the things that you used to be able to do, and secondly for any direct financial losses which you have suffered or will suffer in the future.
If your GP has made a negligent mistake, the amount of compensation you will receive depends entirely on the outcome for you. Some errors may have disastrous outcomes, in which case compensation is likely to be very substantial.
Paul Rumley, a Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team, recovered compensation of £327,500 for the family of Mr C, who tragically died following his GP’s failure to advise him that he needed a life-saving vaccination.
Paul Rumley, a Partner in the Clinical Negligence Team, recovered compensation of £32,500 for a young girl when her GP missed a diagnosis of diabetes, leading to a life-threatening coma and serious complications.
The Clinical Negligence Team acted for C following a 2 year delay by her GPs to diagnose that she was suffering from a cholesteatoma. C suffered with frequent ear infections and increasing problems with her hearing and attended her GP regularly between 2003 and 2008.
Each time she was given ear drops. In 2008 she was finally referred by her GP to an ENT surgeon who diagnosed her with a cholesteatoma, a destructive ear conditionwhich can cause permanent deafness if not treated. C’s GPs admitted that the condition should have been diagnosed 2 years earlier than it was. With earlier diagnosis C would still have suffered from the cholesteatoma and required surgery, but she would have avoided 2 years of painful ear infections and ear discharge.
C received compensation of £7,500 for her pain and suffering during this 2 year peiod, and also for additional university tuition fees, as she needed to repeat a year at university due to needing additional time off due to her condition.