GPs must show proof of training to fit LARCs

GPs must be adequately trained before fitting women with contraceptive implants, medico-legal experts have warned as negligence claims rise.

LARCs: claims for compensation have risen sharply (Photograph: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian)

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) urged GPs to ensure they have proof of training to implant the devices after it paid out £100,000 in just six cases over the past year.

The advice comes after Channel 4 News reported the NHS paid nearly £200,000 in compensation to women using the long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) Implanon. GPs warned the coverage may hit uptake rates (GP, 7 January).

The MDU said it had been notified of six claims against GPs in the past year alone, compared with 29 claims over the previous decade.

The majority of claims alleged a failure to prevent pregnancy. The MDU paid out £30,000 compensation for one such case. In other cases, devices may have been incorrectly inserted.

The MDU wants GPs who fit implants to ensure they hold a letter of competence from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, or equivalent proof of training.

Patients should be fully informed about the risks and benefits of the implant and the procedure. GPs should also consider specialist referral sooner rather than later if location or removal problems are encountered.

Dr Rupert Lee, MDU clinical risk manger, said the number of cases was small compared to the one million implant devices sold in the UK since 1999.

But he said ‘some difficulties could be avoided through adequate training and good communication with patients’.

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