Hospitals putting patients at risk

Medical Negligence

17.10.2008

Patients are being put at risk as hospitals fail to pass information onto GPs, a poll has said.

The survey by NHS Alliance questioned 612 GPs and revealed that one in four believes that their patients' safety is compromised, and that some are even lucky to be alive as a result of the problem.

It has been found that hospitals have failed to pass on information about allergic reactions, attempted overdoses and even a patient's diagnosis.

Some GPs have been given incorrect information and little or no indication about the medication the patients should be prescribed.

Dr Michael Dixon, the chairman of the NHS Alliance, which represents GPs and primary care trusts, said: "Hospitals seem not to understand nor care that ill patients still need treatment from their family doctor when they go home."

Four out of 10 of the GPs questioned said the medical care of their patients had been affected.

One case highlighted by the poll showed that a patient was treated for clinical depression but the GP was not told she had been hospitalised for an attempted overdose until 11 months after the event.

Dr Dixon called for penalties to be put in place for hospitals who failed to pass on details.

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Georgina Sheldon from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Communication failures between hospitals and GP are clearly very worrying for patients who understandably assume that important information is passed on. Although not the patient's responsibility, it may be helpful if they raise matters of concern with their GP at their next appointment, just to ensure that their GP is fully aware of the entire picture. We see many clients whose medical care has been affected by a breakdown in communication, which sometimes leads to devastating outcomes."