We analysed all 1213 negligence claims made against contributing psychiatric services since the inception of the National Health Service Litigation Authority (NHSLA) in 1995 and until 1 June 2009. More than half (55%) were settled, at a cost of £47.2 million, 26% were closed without penalty and 19% were still in progress at the time of review. Five individual claims exceeded £1 million.
By allocating 43 NHSLA-assigned causes for a claim to the 11 stages of a generalised patient journey, we noted that assessment of patient risks was the single largest cause of claims (32%) and the single largest cost of settlements (£16.2 million, 34%).
At the individual level it is difficult to see patterns of errors, whereas increased volumes reveal systemic trends. This analysis presents a new perspective from which to improve patient safety.
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