New MDU journal focuses on preventing delayed diagnosis of male cancers

The MDU has published new guidance on how to better diagnose male cancers; 92% of male cancer cases handled by the MDU in 2015-2016 involved GPs

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) has published the latest edition of the MDU journal, which focuses on male cancers and the ways in which doctors can prevent a delayed diagnosis.

The MDU supported 106 doctors from 2015 to 2016 with complaints and claims related to a delayed diagnosis of prostate or testicular cancer. 92% of these cases involved GPs, with the other 8% being consultants.

57% of the cases led to a claim for clinical negligence, while the other 43% were NHS complaints with, four complaints being made to the GMC. The overwhelming majority of cases focused on an alleged delayed diagnosis of prostate cancer (81%), with the other 19% alleging delayed diagnosis of testicular cancer.

MDU medico-legal adviser, Dr Kathryn Leask, explained:

“Diagnosis of male cancers is by no means straightforward as symptoms and signs can be difficult to distinguish from less serious illnesses. Yet, there are actions that doctors can take to reduce the risk of a delayed diagnosis and the harm that can be caused to the patient.

“Such actions include effectively communicating your management plan, keeping accurate records and making prompt referrals.

“However, despite the doctor’s best intentions sometimes things do go wrong. If this happens, you should be honest with the patient, explain was has happened and offer an apology. It is also important to try to put matters right by taking appropriate steps to deal with the consequences and arrange appropriate treatment and follow-up.

“Adverse incidents should be reviewed under your clinical governance procedures, in order to allow you to analyse and learn from any mistakes made.”

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