GPs Openly Making Mistakes Due To Tiredness And Exhaustion
Recent studies have shown that GPs are openly making mistakes because they are overtired and exhausted at work.
The principal reason for this is because some GPs are treating twice the number of patients that they are expected to treat.
A poll of 1,681 GPs carried out by Pulse found that, on average, each GP dealt with 41 patients per day, despite acknowledging that 30 was a safe number. One doctor in 10 dealt with 60 or more patients per day – double the safe limit.
The poll also revealed that GPs are working, on average, 11 hours per day, including 8 hours of clinical care and 3 hours of administration.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs and a Staffordshire-based doctor, is one of those affected by heavy workloads. She said “In my own practice recently, I had a 12-hour day and 100 patient contacts. GPs across the UK will tell similar stories”.
Professor Clare Gerada, former Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said tired GPs were at risk of making mistakes and high numbers of patients added to this. She said “You could miss a result or misread a letter, or you don’t focus on the right symptom or ask the right question”.
Dr James Howarth, a GP in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, said “I was a duty doctor on the day of Pulse’s survey, and I had 124 patient contacts. The median is about 60 to 70 – beyond a safe level”.
NHS England commented “We already know that general practice is under pressure which is why investment in local doctors and community services is increasing by £4.5billion, helping fund an army of 20,000 more staff to support GP practices as part of the NHS Long Term Plan”.
It is generally accepted that GPs are the core around which the healthcare system in the UK is built. More than 90 per cent of the work carried out by the NHS is undertaken by GPs, dealing with a broad range of injuries and medical conditions in the community. They also act as the main liaison between hospitals and patients.
GPs undoubtedly have a greater field of responsibility than most medical professions and must also comply with guidelines set out by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. These guidelines are clear on expected standards of GP practice when providing treatment and making referrals to a specialist doctor.
However, even the most experienced GPs are not infallible. Long hours and the stressful demands of the role can leave GPs overstretched and unable to manage, resulting in breakdowns in communication, administrative errors and poorly managed patient care.
Some of the more common reasons for GP negligence claims include:
At Wolferstans we recognise the adverse effects that these types of failings can have on patients and have an experienced team of medical negligence lawyers who can provide help and support in securing compensation awards in respect of these injuries. Listed below are some examples of the cases which we have recently settled involving falls in hospital: