The reasons patients sue their urologist

Dr Shabbir Choudhury, medico-legal adviser and former senior medical claims handler at the Medical Defence Union, analyses clinical negligence claims affecting urologists and provides advice on managing risk.  

This analysis of urology claims looks at clinical negligence claims arising out of our urology members’ private practice. 

I examine the trends observed over a recent ten-year period, the reasons for litigation and risk factors that might reduce the chance of a claim being made in future. 

Over the decade, the frequency of claim notifications initially rose to a peak in 2015, but has slowly reduced since then. More than 75% of claims opened in the period have been successfully defended  and closed with no payment of compensation or claimant costs. 

Almost half of the settled claims cost the MDU over £100k each to settle. But remember that the level of compensation paid in clinical negligence claims bears little or no relation to the seriousness of the allegations, but reflects the cost of restoring the claimant to a position they would have been in had the negligence not occurred.  

However, this does demonstrate the need for urologists to have appropriate indemnity arrangements in place, as even lower-value claims can settle for damages and costs that are beyond the means of most members to pay.  

What are the reasons for claims involving urologists? 

Poor outcome/complications after surgery 

The single largest reason for urology claims is due to allegations concerning unintended consequences of surgery. 

The commonest of these, in order of occurrence, were: