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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Medical error victims call for action
Medical errors can cause much misery
Victims of medical errors have called for the government to provide better protection for patients.

A group of around 50 campaigners handed a petition to the Department of Health on Monday.

They say doctors must be made more accountable, and patients must be given better access to the facts of their treatment.

We want an end to the denial and cover-up culture

Gillian Bean
The demonstration was organised by the pressure group Sufferers of Iatrogenic Neglect (SIN).

An iatrogenic illness is one caused by the treatment a patient receives.

SIN founder member Gillian Bean said: "The unpalatable truth is that the victim of a medical blunder will find that their ensuing healthcare has been put into jeopardy because to give remedial care would be to disclose the fact that damage has occurred, thereby giving evidence for a potential legal action.

"We are fighting for a more civilised and humane way of dealing with medical errors.

"We want an end to the denial and cover-up culture.

"We want an open and honest culture in which doctors will be able to acknowledge their mistakes."

Soaring costs

Ms Bean said in an effort to contain compensation pay outs, the NHS defended every case and therefore sent legal costs soaring.

In order to reduce the legal bill, SIN wants a victims' compensation fund to be set up.

Ms Bean said the chief medical officer has acknowledged that one in 10 patients attending hospitals will be subjected to a medical error.

Recent research has estimated 34,000 people die needlessly each year in UK hospitals.

Marilyn Lewis, of Action Against Unnecessary Hysterectomy (AAUH), said: "We have the right not to have our bodies unnecessarily invaded.

"Having a womb is part of being a woman, and many of us can no longer have physical relationships.

"All of us feel we have been misled and betrayed by the medical profession."

Missing files

Ellen Williams, 46, from Liverpool, was implanted with HRT despite having endometriosis, or bleeding of the womb lining.

She said: "HRT exacerbates the problem and now I bleed from the vagina and bowel, and have no womb.

"I have been unable to seek any sort of compensation because medical files mysteriously went missing and we have no evidence."

Derek Bye, of Poole, Dorset, became a member of Parents Recognition of Paediatric Errors because his daughter suffered a reaction to an injection given for diagnosing a urine infection.

"She had an inflammation of the brain and the consultant diagnosed epilepsy and prescribed drugs for the condition.

"Despite the fact I was not at all happy with giving the drugs, I had to because they threatened to have her taken into care if I did not comply."

His daughter died and the family was now helping police with manslaughter inquiries.

See also:

20 Nov 00 | Health
Parents 'not told of drug errors'
17 Jun 00 | Health
Cutting out the medical blunders
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