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21-03-2011 | General practice | Article

GPs need contraceptive implant training


Medical Defence Union

GPs are being asked to ensure they are properly trained before fitting women with contraceptive implant devices in order to prevent mistakes and unwanted pregnancies.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is issuing advice to GPs and says that they need to obtain a letter of competence from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.

The move comes following a small increase in negligence claims over the past year alleging a problem with single rod implant devices.

A total of 29 claims against GPs have been made over the past 10 years, and there have been six claims in the past year alone, an increase on the one to four cases normally received a year.

Dr Rupert Lee, MDU clinical risk manager, commented: "Although the cases notified to the MDU are few, given that more than one million contraceptive implant devices have been sold in the UK since 1999, in our experience some of the difficulties could be avoided through adequate training and good communication with patients. Patients should understand the risks and benefits of the device, for example."

Inadequate prevention of pregnancy, often due to the implant not being inserted properly, was the main reason for allegations being made against GPs, followed by removal problems including nerve damage and scarring, problems locating the implant after insertion, and side effects.

The MDU has already paid out over £100,000 in total to settle six of the claims, with £30,000 compensation for an unwanted pregnancy the highest paid.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper