Television hospital dramas like Holby City are leading patients’ families to expect medical “miracles” with injury lawyers exploiting their unrealistic hopes, a nursing conference has heard.
Nurses also warned that a fear of being sued could lead staff to leave the profession and make it more difficult to recruit trainee nurses in the future.
The NHS spent £807 million settling claims in 2008/09, up from £661 million in the previous year, figures from the National Health Service Litigation Authority show.
John Hill, a nurse from Scunthorpe, told RCN’s annual conference in Bournemouth: “In A&E it is sometimes a fact that sadly we cannot get people through the trauma they have received.
“Unfortunately, unlike in Holby City, I am a mere mortal and cannot perform miracles.
“But many relatives believe because of that, you can.
“And the injury lawyers assure them that if you don’t they will get recompense for it.”
There were 8,885 clinical and non-clinical claims made in 2008/09, although less than one in 20 of these go to court.
The Litigation Authority has previously warned that fees from no win, no fee cases are affecting NHS patient care.
RCN delegates also claimed that fears over becoming embroiled in litigation claims could drive nurses from the profession.
Jane Bovey, a nurse from Wiltshire, told the conference: “I’m concerned that nurses will be afraid to continue in this profession.
“I’m also afraid that we will fail to recruit future nurses as the fear of litigation will be so that they will question their decision.”
Marcia Turnham, a nurse from Cambridgeshire, warned that patient care was being compromised because nurses were spending so much time documenting their actions, to protect themselves in the case of future litigation.
She said: “One of the main concerns is that there’s too much documentation associated with the care we have to give.
“A big part of that is those documents associated with indemnity insurance for the trust.
“Every time a patient is admitted it can take a nurse 40 minutes to fill in the paperwork.
“That’s time that a nurse could be spending with the patient.”
Howard Catton, head of policy with the RCN, agreed that there was a problem and said that the fear of litigation could lead nurses to become “defensive”.
He said: “People talk about being risk averse in their practice to the point of becoming defensive.
“There is a consequence that through becoming defensive you don’t move forward and you don’t improve.”Source on net: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7639708/Nurses-blame-Holby-City-for-unrealistic-expectations.html