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Should people sue the national health for misdiagnosis ?

VTechVTech Posts: 4,736
edited July 2015 in The bottom bracket
Just heard on the BBC that a young girl diagnosed with a bowel condition actually had crohn's disease and her mother is taking the national health to court for misdiagnosis.
It got me thinking if this is the right course of action considering they will pay for her treatment and either way, she would have still had the disease and although it may have been diagnosed earlier, the outcome wouldn't be that much different but even if it were, the treatment is free to a point and mistakes do happen.
Taking people to court for mistakes is the road to doom, just look at the states where people die on the street as others fear helping them through risk of court action at a later date (really is that serious)

My mother died 18 months ago and was told she was cancer free on her last checkup in mid 2013 but got a stomach pain a few months later and died a couple of months after that.
We found out that the surgeon didn't even read the results of the scans and based his clearance on the way she looked and how well she felt.
We were told to take them to court but the outcome would have been the same, we chose not to pursue any course of action and left it there.

Thought provoking stuff no doubt, just wondered what you guys thought of it ?
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  • craigus89craigus89 Posts: 887
    To answer your question, no, they shouldn't.

    The story just sounds like another example of someone trying to get something they don't deserve. As you say, the outcome will always be the same, and we don't want the American suing culture to permeate.

    Misdiagnosis is going to happen, Doctors are humans and are going to make mistakes at work, like all of us do. Fortunately most of our mistakes aren't life or death. Unfortunately, Doctors mistakes may well be.

    I'm suspicious of how you found out that the Surgeon for your Mother didn't read the scans. Did he confess this to you? Either way, a lot of practicing medicine is going to be a judgment call, as scared as that may make us feel.
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,665 Lives Here
    Not usually, I don't think so. There may be exceptional cases though. I'm not a doctor but I don't think diagnosing is a precise science. They look at a collection of symptoms and then make a best guess using their knowledge and experience. They have to be careful of course.
    I was initially misdiagnosed with my lymphoma initially. I did make a complaint later but it was about the tone of the GP in question as much as anything. He told me because the lump moved it could not be cancerous, when another lump appeared I ignored it because it moved. My uncle, a retired GP, told me to go and see another doctor. Within 3 weeks of seeing the 2nd doctor I was having chemo. Had I been correctly diagnosed initially I might have had less chemo, nothing else would have changed.
    Were it not for my uncle I might not be here and my wife might see things differently though.
  • solosuperiasolosuperia Posts: 333
    I tend to feel sorry for doctors..... They have a short time to see you, and lets be honest without loads of tests it is their best guess.
    I sure we all know people who are off to the quacks with just a sniffle or some other piffling complaint. When they have got something for real, they've cried wolf too many times.
    I am not condoning these instances where the consultant haven't look at scans or suchlike.
    Does worry me that some people just jump on the bandwagon as far as suing is concerned.
  • FlâneurFlâneur Posts: 3,081
    I'm never sure on this. A lot of it depends on whether the error was based on a misdiagnosis on evidence (someone being wrong) or someone half arsing their job and therefore truly negligent, often doctors are sued on the first (to my knowledge) but cases are often settled well before a court house.

    Humans get stuff wrong and different people interpret different things differently. A reason to get a second opinion. I'm currently running around trying to fix a problem that numerous medics can't solve. It is a PITA but that is life, not everything is simple. Now my GP is fairly useless in this matter, he isn't involved in orthopaedics (a reason) he farms me off to other doctors. Now if he tried to say it was all fixed to hit a target without a true understanding I'd complain, though I doubt I would sue.

    Doctors are easy to sue, insurance (Hospitals and personal insurance) like to settle well before court for lots of reasons.

    Far too case by case for my general review. What a waffle eh
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  • sungodsungod Posts: 13,778
    people make mistakes, i certainly do, there needs to be some acceptance of this

    if the error is one that leads to long term damage to someone so that their life and ability to make a living is significantly impaired, then i think suing for compensation is fair enough

    but if the issue has no such impact i don't thing suing an nhs entity is justified, it simply inflicts damage by depleting resources needed by others to the benefit of the 'victim' (and lawyers)

    an exception might be where there's history of repeated error that the institution has covered up or failed to detect and act on, but even here the correct response should be to discipline or dismiss (without a fat payoff) those who were responsible for failiure to detect/correct things
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  • homers_doublehomers_double Posts: 6,934
    Not misdiagnosis but I almost died of septecemia because of a slightly botched appendix op, to cut it short here it is...

    Day 1 - complain about side pain
    Day 2 - end up at walk in centre - tested - nothing - admitted to a ward just in case - tested again - blood levels abnormal so had the appendix removed that night.
    Day 3 - All normal.
    Day 6 - Wife notices red patch spreading up my back.
    Day 7 - In A&E collapsed on the floor - doctors cut me back open without annesthetic and scooped out around 2 litres of fluid from an abcess which had formed because they hadn't cleaned me out properly.
    Day 8 & 9 - I don't remember but had so much codine in me I had something put up my bum and filled three bed pans shortly afterwards.
    Days 10 - Second operation to "clean me out"
    Days 11 to about 40 - Left with an open wound 100mm deep and about 120mm long which needed constantly redressing and left to heal from the inside out so the abcess wouldn't form again.

    Lots of people said "sue the NHS" and yes, I was told by someone I could potentialy get a several K for my troubles but then again, being able to stand morraly above the blame culture we have is priceless.

    Besides which, the NHS needs the money more than I do.
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  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 4,137
    No and the money being paid out as damages is one aspect.

    Then look at the impact tho has on medical staff and how the treatment they then subscribe. It's low risk and rarely will you illicit a clear and concise response to a question as most practitioners are sacred of being sued albeit most are covered by insurance and that still requires paying for.

    The genie is out of the bottle and simply more people are happy to use no win no fee low life to leverage 'their rights" and the decline to the American propensity to sue is permeating through society here.
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

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  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    My 80+ Father in law had three laparoscopic operations to insert and then fix a stent in an aortic aneurysm. At the third attempt the original surgeon was absent so someone else did it. He died 2 days later because she'd nicked his bowel and nobody in post-op care took any notice of his worsening pain / deteriorating condition. There was an inquest and the hospital found wanting, but none of the family wanted to take it any further; it wouldn't bring him back.

    I just hope somebody learned something and the next patient complaining of worsening, excruciation pain is taken seriously...
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,665 Lives Here
    I just hope somebody learned something and the next patient complaining of worsening, excruciation pain is taken seriously...
    I think that is often the best outcome we can hope for in these cases.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796
    We found out that the surgeon didn't even read the results of the scans and based his clearance on the way she looked and how well she felt.
    We were told to take them to court but the outcome would have been the same, we chose not to pursue any course of action and left it there.

    Thought provoking stuff no doubt, just wondered what you guys thought of it ?
    That doctor will still be practicing, will still be incompetent, and more will die.

    It should have been reported. Not for your family, but for future families.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
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  • Frank the tankFrank the tank Posts: 6,553
    A mate of mine sued the NHS not for mis-diagnosis, but for negligence, they settled out of court. He got £100K. While he went through a lot of pain and suffering and still has to have physio he still does his job, lost no pay whilst off and his lifestyle hasn't been affected at all (apart from he has a hundred grand extra to play with)

    I don't know how they come up with these compo figures but that seems excessive. Ironically both his wife and daughter are employed by the NHS.
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  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,665 Lives Here

    It should have been reported. Not for your family, but for future families.
    Reported, yes. Sued, no.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796

    It should have been reported. Not for your family, but for future families.
    Reported, yes. Sued, no.
    My apologies if I did not make that clear, but yes, 100%.
    And seen right through.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • I'm going to go against the grain here and say that the only things that makes most bodies sit up and listen, make changes and revise protocols are adverse publicity and severe financial penalty.

    The fine however should be capped for the individual against a reasonable assessment of future costs and instead put in a ring-fenced fund. As additional incentive to get it right, maybe the fund should be passed to a different NHS Trust so that the money is kept within the NHS but the Trust which erred is penalised.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796
    I'm going to go against the grain here and say that the only things that makes most bodies sit up and listen, make changes and revise protocols are adverse publicity and severe financial penalty.

    The fine however should be capped for the individual against a reasonable assessment of future costs and instead put in a ring-fenced fund. As additional incentive to get it right, maybe the fund should be passed to a different NHS Trust so that the money is kept within the NHS but the Trust which erred is penalised.
    Which will beg the question, how is an underperforming surgery deprived of money going to improve?

    PS:- This is far too serious for BB.
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    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • VTechVTech Posts: 4,736
    We found out that the surgeon didn't even read the results of the scans and based his clearance on the way she looked and how well she felt.
    We were told to take them to court but the outcome would have been the same, we chose not to pursue any course of action and left it there.

    Thought provoking stuff no doubt, just wondered what you guys thought of it ?
    That doctor will still be practicing, will still be incompetent, and more will die.

    It should have been reported. Not for your family, but for future families.

    We did think about it, only for a passing moment but the sad truth is, those last 4 months before she was told it was spread to far to do anything were awesome, she lived every moment, we went on trips, she did things with the grandkids and we all had an amazing time, I have often thought how differently it would have been had she known all along that it was terminal.
    She had pancreatic cancer so in reality, there really is no hope although we had hope from the "all clear" which of course wasn't.
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  • tlw1tlw1 Posts: 20,056

    It should have been reported. Not for your family, but for future families.
    Reported, yes. Sued, no.

    yep
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796

    We did think about it, only for a passing moment but the sad truth is, those last 4 months before she was told it was spread to far to do anything were awesome, she lived every moment, we went on trips, she did things with the grandkids and we all had an amazing time, I have often thought how differently it would have been had she known all along that it was terminal.
    She had pancreatic cancer so in reality, there really is no hope although we had hope from the "all clear" which of course wasn't.
    As I said, it should have been reported to stop any repeats.
    Your families sad experience should not be needlessly repeated. Early diagnosis and treatment can be key.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • VTechVTech Posts: 4,736

    We did think about it, only for a passing moment but the sad truth is, those last 4 months before she was told it was spread to far to do anything were awesome, she lived every moment, we went on trips, she did things with the grandkids and we all had an amazing time, I have often thought how differently it would have been had she known all along that it was terminal.
    She had pancreatic cancer so in reality, there really is no hope although we had hope from the "all clear" which of course wasn't.
    As I said, it should have been reported to stop any repeats.
    Your families sad experience should not be needlessly repeated. Early diagnosis and treatment can be key.

    I do get your point and agree with you (I don't actually think in these cases that there is a definite right or wrong because different people react differently in such cases) but in my mothers case the outcome would have been the same regardless, its not a cancer you recover from to be honest.
    I can't guarantee that I would have felt the same if she had died of a curable cancer that was misdiagnosed though.
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  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,380
    I'm going to go against the grain here and say that the only things that makes most bodies sit up and listen, make changes and revise protocols are adverse publicity and severe financial penalty.

    The fine however should be capped for the individual against a reasonable assessment of future costs and instead put in a ring-fenced fund. As additional incentive to get it right, maybe the fund should be passed to a different NHS Trust so that the money is kept within the NHS but the Trust which erred is penalised.
    Which will beg the question, how is an underperforming surgery deprived of money going to improve?

    PS:- This is far too serious for BB.
    Amy Sue
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    I counter her with Alison Green. Look and ye shall be shocked at my choice.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
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    He's right you know.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796
    I counter her with Alison Green. Look and ye shall be shocked at my choice.
    I am not sure which Alison Green you mean.
    More to the point, her name is not Sue, which was the relevant part. :wink:
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • FatTedFatTed Posts: 1,205
    No I don't think it helps.
    An investigation as to the cause of the problem so that any system deficiencies can be fixed should be the normal course of events.
  • ballysmateballysmate Posts: 15,628
    When my dad died, the family were angry at the treatment he received at the hospital. We never even contemplated suing.
    I did get some satisfaction from being able to question the specialists at the inquest though.
  • tewkstritewkstri Posts: 2
    No - all that does is deprive the trust of funds and feed the compensation culture where "victims" seek to make money from a minor misfortune that may have little or no financial consequence to them.
    The people who made the error should be identified and disciplined/sacked - lack of personal consequence makes people apathetic when working for such an enormous organisation that will never be allowed to fail.
  • floreriderflorerider Posts: 1,112
    NHS cash is limited, use it for treatment or to pay lawyers litigating? Sorry, was there a question?
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Not usually, I don't think so. There may be exceptional cases though. I'm not a doctor but I don't think diagnosing is a precise science. They look at a collection of symptoms and then make a best guess using their knowledge and experience. They have to be careful of course....
    I tend to agree that the default answer should probably be no, suing is not appropriate. However, there may be circumstances where it is.
    Diagnosis is about judgement on the basis of probability using both quantifiable and unquantifiable inputs. If it was all quantifiable they'd be using software and it would be pretty black and white.
    The diagnosis may be wrong without anyone having made a mistake. The most likely answer simply wasn't the correct one. Or it could be due to a minor misjudgement or a major screw-up. The latter may well deserve follow-up action either by the patient or the medical profession. You don't want to cultivate a litigation culture nor the censored -covering medical culture that would follow. On the other hand you do want to ensure controls and continuous improvement culture are in place. To much litigation guarantees the former. It does not necessarily drive the latter.
  • floreriderflorerider Posts: 1,112
    as regards a litigation culture, a friends son is an anaesthetist in the U.S., over half his income goes into paying for insurance against litigation, no wonder health care is so expensive over there.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796
    You don't want to cultivate a litigation culture nor the censored -covering medical culture that would follow.
    You don't think that the censored -covering culture is here already?
    Either I am cynical, or you are naive.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    You don't want to cultivate a litigation culture nor the censored -covering medical culture that would follow.
    You don't think that the censored -covering culture is here already?
    Either I am cynical, or you are naive.
    It is to some extent but there's still space for it to get worse if the incentive is provided.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,796
    You don't want to cultivate a litigation culture nor the censored -covering medical culture that would follow.
    You don't think that the censored -covering culture is here already?
    Either I am cynical, or you are naive.
    It is to some extent but there's still space for it to get worse if the incentive is provided.
    Fair middle ground.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
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