A report compiled by the State Claims Agency has revealed the leading causes of 166 clinical negligence claims for compensation closed in 2010, with poor staff knowledge heading the list.
The report, compiled by the clinical risk team of the State Claims Agency, only accounts for claims for clinical negligence compensation covered by the Clinical Indemnity Scheme and not compensation for non-medical accidents in hospitals and clinics which result in injuries to patients, visitors or staff.
It revealed that, of the 166 clinical negligence claims closed in 2010, 44.2 percent of claims for clinical negligence were due to poor staff knowledge, skills or competency. The second most common reason for settlements of clinical negligence compensation was a failure in communications (14.4 percent) with a lack of effective leadership coming a close third (9.6 percent).
Among the other primary reasons for clinical negligence claims were:-
- Safety culture issues (8.7 percent)
- Lack of guidelines or protocols (6.7 percent)
- Inadequate supervision (5.8 percent)
- Insufficient staff to cope (2.9 percent)
By speciality, the majority of claims for clinical negligence were attributable to surgical errors (27.1 percent), emergency medicine (25.9 percent) and obstetrics (18.7 percent), while the leading “contributory factors” in clinical negligence compensation claims were delay or failure to treat (11.2 percent), delay or failure to recognise complications (10.6 percent) and misdiagnosis of a medical condition (4.7 percent).
Commenting on the report, Debbie Dunne – Clinical Risk Advisor at the State Claims Agency – said “This is consistent with the trend in 2009. Over 50 per cent of these cases were within the specialties of surgery and emergency medicine”.