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NHS Payouts as Patients Suffer: The True Cost of Medical Negligence

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In the lead-up to World Stroke Day, a new analysis reveals the true cost of National Health Service (NHS) medical negligence as searches for stroke misdiagnosis information online soar to 267%.

In a time when financial difficulties and funding struggles are a rising concern, most people don’t want to have to take such measures against a public healthcare provider. However, medical negligence often leaves families with little choice but to seek legal redress, often to fund care that the NHS agrees a patient needs as a result of their negligence.

Lucy Norton, senior associate at RWK Goodman discusses a recent case in which over £100,000 was secured due to a general practitioner’s (GP) misprescription resulting in a stroke: “Mr Y had been taking medication for atrial fibrillation when he suffered a stroke. It was later discovered that his medication had been prescribed at an insufficient dose for nearly two years. As a direct result of the stroke, Mr Y now requires walking aids, a stairlift, as well as help to do everyday tasks. An admission of full liability from the defendant’s GP meant a settlement was agreed to pay for the patient’s care needs in moving forward.”

There are many reasons for which the healthcare provider may be deemed at fault problems with diagnosis are a common type of medical negligence, apparently, both in RWK Goodman’s experience and the data analysis. Failure to treat, a delay in treatment, or misdiagnosis of stroke can have a devastating impact on someone’s health and disability while potentially causing avoidable brain damage.

Failure or delays to diagnose has been identified as the second leading reason for damages payouts when looking at data across ten years (20112022). Misdiagnosis has also continuously appeared in the top 10 reasons for payouts each year. Looking at search data, it was discovered that there has been a 267% increase in search interest for “stroke misdiagnosis” over the past month, leading up to World Stroke Day.

Negligence of hospital care is sadly another cause RWK Goodman commonly experiences. Securing over £1 million in damages for a 27-year- old patient who was not seen by a stroke physician for almost a month despite suffering a stroke when under NHS care for a severe flu virus.

Speaking of the case, Norton comments: “If B had undergone a CT scan, the signs of a stroke should have been noted, and the worst effects of the stroke would likely have been avoided. Allegedly, there was a failure to provide appropriate stroke and neurological rehabilitation, which would have greatly accelerated the recovery and led to a better outcome. While no admissions were made in respect of any negligence, a settlement was achieved for B.”

The negligence led to limitations in career prospects, which means B’s wife needed to become the full-time carer because B was unable to hold or even care for the newborn daughter. It means that B’s extra needs are met throughout life, enabling them to live life to the fullest. Over £686 million has been claimed from the NHS in damages for inappropriate treatment over the last 10 years (20112022), totalling 4,847 cases.

If measures are not taken to curb cases of medical negligence, patients will continue to suffer lifelong consequences on the NHS, which will experience further financial strain that could have been avoided.

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