Nurse practitioners are reporting an increase in the number of claims and complaints says the Medical Defence Union (MDU).
During 2015, the MDU's nurse practitioner members reported 25 clinical negligence claims from their practice, whereas in 2005 only two were reported.
Between 2010 and 2015, the MDU helped with over 400 complaints, claims, and other medico-legal matters involving nurse practitioners.
Dr Beverley Ward, MDU medico-legal adviser, said that one of the reasons for this could be because practices are now giving more responsibility to nurse practitioners. 'With an ageing population and more patients with long-term conditions being managed in primary care, many practices have devolved more responsibility to nurse practitioners in their team to cope with the increasing demand. However, in taking on roles such as assessing and diagnosing patients, prescribing medicines and running minor injury clinics, nurse practitioners are also at an increased risk of patients holding them individually accountable if something goes wrong.'
The most common reason for cases was wrong or delayed diagnosis followed by delayed referrals and prescribing errors.
She encourages nurses to take individual responsibility for their own indemnity and to ensure they keep up to date with the type of work they are doing. She says this is in line with the NMC requirement to 'have an appropriate indemnity arrangement in place relevant to your scope of practice'.
The MDU has issued advice to help nurse practitioners minimise the risk of a claim or complaint. This includes clearly communicating your actions to patients, checking whether patients have understood the medical care you are providing, keeping a record of all discussions with patients, including phone conversations and apologising to patients if things do go wrong and explaining what could be done to rectify the situation.