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Online or phone appointments often fail to make easy diagnoses

By December 8, 2023No Comments

A new study has suggested that patients are being put at risk through non-contact GP appointments which can fail to pick up serious illnesses.

The study examined 95 UK safety incidents over the past three years, comprising complaints, reports and compensation claims. Errors included missing the diagnosis of serious conditions including cancer, sepsis and heart disease which the study claimed would have been spotted had the individuals been seen in person.

The serious incidents included death or serious illnesses attributed to mishandled NHS 111 and GP calls, including a woman experiencing sudden breathlessness who was promised a return call from a GP receptionist which never materialised. She later died at home.

The study also claimed that the most difficult cohorts to diagnose by telephone were the elderly, very young and those with multiple pre-existing conditions. It also criticised poor rapport building with patients, inadequate assessments and information gathering, and funneling patients into inappropriate pathways.

Current data for England shows 71 per cent of GP consultations are face-to-face while 24 per cent are over the phone.

The study underlines the importance of properly assessing and diagnosing patients to ensure that their conditions can be treated as swiftly as possible. This is often only possible through face-to-face consultations.