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A Freedom of Information request by medical negligence solicitors, Blackwater Law has revealed that more than 1,000 Serious Incidents were recorded against the category of delays and diagnostic incidents during a one-year time period.
The findings form part of a larger piece of research, which can be viewed here.
235 NHS Trusts and Welsh health boards provided data relating to the Serious Incidents that had been recorded in their trusts. Blackwater Law then separated the trusts into three categories based on the services they provided: Acute and community health, mental health and finally ambulance trusts.
96 acute and community health trusts in England and Wales and Welsh health boards provided a breakdown and description of each Serious Incident that was recorded in their trust during 1st April 2016 – 31st March 2017. This then provided 679 separate descriptions, which were reviewed by Blackwater Law and assigned into suitable categories to gain a further understanding of the types of Serious Incident that were being recorded by the trusts and health boards.
75 out of the 171 acute and community health trusts did not provide a breakdown of Serious Incident type and therefore could not be included when determining the most commonly occurring Serious Incident types, suggesting the overall figures for delays and diagnostic related Serious Incidents could in fact be far higher.
In total, 1300 Serious Incidents were recorded under the category delays and diagnostic incidents during the one-year time period, accounting for 16.5% of all Serious Incidents for which a description had been provided. This made it the third highest category after pressure damage/sores/ulcers and accidents to service users or staff including slip, trip, fall (actual or suspected). Other commonly occurring categories included maternity, labour and delivery including neonatal related Serious Incidents, infection management and control and Infrastructure (including capacity, beds and resources), health and safety, environment and security issues.
Serious Incidents recorded under the category of delays and diagnostic incidents encompasses a broad range of events including over 300 separate Serious Incidents recorded as treatment delays. Other items that were recorded as delays included delay in diagnosing a condition as well as delays or failure to act on test results.
The data provided by the 96 acute and community health trusts illustrates that delays and diagnostic related incidents can relate to a number of separate incidents ranging from appointment delays, or referrals not being made through to diagnostic images not being available when required or being incomplete, each of which can directly impact the patient outcome.
In instances where a delay has directly impacted the effectiveness of a certain treatment or healthcare outcome, it may be possible to pursue a delayed diagnosis claim in order to seek compensation.
In addition, this also included instances where a condition had been misdiagnosed or even a wrong diagnosis may have been given. Due to the fact that a misdiagnosis or wrong diagnosis can have such profound consequences, in instances where this has been proven to have occurred it may be possible to pursue a misdiagnosis claim as part of a wider hospital negligence claim.