Published 05th March 2016 | OM&M News

Doctors Accused of breast cancer negligence

Doctors failing to examine women as one in ten cancer medical negligence claims involve breast cancer

One in ten medical negligence claims involving cancer are from women with breast cancer as doctors are failing to examine women and not following up on abnormal test results, it has been warned.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer-related medical negligence claim against GPs, Medical Protection Society (MPS) has found.breastcancer

The Society provides legal advice and indemnity for doctors and warned them to be extra vigilant with patient checks and referrals, particularly as the number of breast cancer sufferers continues to rise.

Around 48,400 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in Britain each year and in the last ten years cases have increased by six per cent.

It is the most common form of cancer.

One fifth of all claims brought against members of the society involve cancer with the most common mistakes relating to diagnosis, which was cited in 80 per cent of claims.

Dr Stephanie Bown, Director of Policy and Communications for the Medical Protection Society, said: “There is certainly a greater awareness of breast cancer as a disease among patients than there was around twenty years ago.

“However, it can still be difficult to detect and diagnose, so doctors need to be vigilant when it comes to spotting the signs and careful in carrying out checks and following up referrals.

“Delays in diagnosis may not always be negligent, in fact, there were no clinical errors found in 43% of the overall cancer-related claims we studied. Whilst some of these claims were at an early stage of investigation so that clinical errors had not yet been identified, this finding also supports the growing body of research evidence that many claims relate to poor communication. It also emphasises how vital it is that the doctor is approachable and sensitive to the patient’s needs – we know that poor communication is a contributing factor in many claims.

Rebecca Smith

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