The total value of clinical claims associated with emergency medicine was nearly £700m in 2022/23, making them the second highest total value of claims by speciality.

Annually, the NHS Resolution is notified of 11,000 clinical negligence claims with an estimated value of £4.5 billion.

Three reports have been published; the first one looks at high value and fatality related claims over 1m; the second report assesses missed fractures; and the third evaluates hospital acquired pressure ulcers and falls in Emergency Departments.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine welcomes these reports as learning opportunities, to reduce the tragedy of preventable harm. It makes the point that no clinician goes to work meaning to make a medical error. It is hoped that by understanding how these claims occur, the same can provide unique learning to enhance safety and patient experience. 220 cases were examined where liability had been established.

The main findings across all of the reports are that Emergency Department clinical services should provide timely identification of diagnoses and treatment plans for patients. Better record-keeping and communication to support handover and ‘safety netting’ for patients was identified as being a priority. Being followed up in a timely manner underpinned the delivery of timely diagnoses and the delivery of effective treatment plans.

There were several recommendations which were grouped into national and local action. These included:

Recommendation 1: Diagnostic errors including failure to investigate or missed, wrong, and delayed diagnosis.

Recommendation 2: Recognition of the significance of repeat attendance or patient not reattending when advised.

Recommendation 3: Delays in care, including speciality reviews and missed therapeutic options.

Recommendation 4: Communication and escalation.

The NHS clearly recognises its failures and appreciates it has a long way to go to reduce negligence in all areas of practice.

If you feel you have a clinical negligence complaint, our experts are on hand to provide advice and representation in your claim for compensation. To discuss the possibility or making a claim and your next steps, please contact the team today on 0845 287 0939, get in touch by email, or use the online chat below.