UK Medical Negligence Claims News

Hospital Investigated for Medical Negligence

Posted on: January 15th, 2017 by Editor

A patient, whose delayed diagnosis of cancer led to her losing her leg, has instructed her solicitors to investigate proceedings at the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

In January 2016, the unnamed woman in question attended the Manchester Royal Infirmary in January 2016 with a suspected broken femur. She had a record of malignant growths, so the medical staff decided to conduct a series of scans and tests. They also took a blood sample to see if she had any conditions (such as osteoporosis) that would lower the density of her bones.

However, none of the diagnostic tests returned a positive result. Consequently, the patient had a metal rod inserted into her femur to prevent further fractures and she was discharged from the Emergency Surgical Trauma Unit. A month later, however, she was readmitted for treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

During her surgery for DVT, a bone biopsy was taken such that further tests could be conducted. However, this time around the results indicated that the patient had a malignant growth in her thigh. The patient was not informed of this diagnosis, and only discovered that she had a possibly malignant tumour after reading her discharge notes. She raised her concerns with doctors at the hospital and a week later the cancer diagnosis was confirmed.

The hospital conducted an internal investigation of the events that led to the delayed diagnosis of cancer. The inquiry revealed that the initial scan that showed no tumour did not have sufficient coverage of the woman’s leg, so no growth appeared on the scan. As a metal rod had been inserted into the femur, many of the usual cancer treatments were no longer available.

To prevent metastasis of the cancerous cells, the woman had her left leg amputated above the knee. After her recovery, she consulted a medical negligence solicitor. She then instructed the solicitors conduct their own investigation of proceedings at the Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who run the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The patient’s solicitors believe that their client will be able to make a claim for compensation against the hospital. Commenting on the case, one solicitor said: “The swift, and more importantly, accurate diagnosis of cancer is absolutely crucial as early treatment can often provide the best possible chances of recovery and to prevent long-term health complications. Sadly, in this case, the NHS’ own investigation suggests that the staff who treated the woman at the NHS Trust in question failed to carry out the correct tests, meaning her cancer was not diagnosed as early as it could have been.”

£1.1 Million Awarded for Failure to Diagnose Encephalitis

Posted on: November 13th, 2016 by Editor

A Gloucester woman has had her claim for medical negligence compensation approved by the High Court of London after her viral encephalitis was not promptly diagnosed, resulting in severe brain injuries.

In June 2009, the patient first attended her local hospital in Gloucestershire as she was experiencing extremely painful headaches. However, the cause of the headaches was not immediately apparent and as such doctors decided to admit her under observation overnight. However, the next morning there was still no diagnosis and the woman was discharged. Within twenty-four hours, however, the woman was rushed back to hospital as an emergency case.  

After her re-admittance, doctors diagnosed the cause of her pain as viral encephalitis (a viral infection that causes dangerous swelling of the brain). Tragically, this diagnosis was too late to prevent lasting damage. The woman is now reliant on twenty-four hour care and also has extreme amnesia that means it is difficult for her to communicate and engage with others.

The nature and extent of the brain damage meant that the woman was no longer able to represent herself in court. As such, members of her family made a claim for medical negligence compensation on her behalf. The claim, made against the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,  alleged that had a diagnosis been made earlier, there would have been a greater chance that the woman recovered with less extensive brain damage.

The NHS Trust conceded liability for the woman’s injuries, offering a T £1.1 million lump sum of compensation for their failure to diagnose. As the claim was made on behalf of another, it had to be approved in the High Court before it could be awarded. Judge Sir Ian Dove oversaw proceedings at the court earlier this month and proceeded to approve the settlement.

The judge commented that “Money can never fully correct what has happened to the claimant in this case, but unfortunately it is the best that the law can do. She will be now be comfortable and secure for the remainder of her life, will be able to stay in her own home and to have carers around her so that she can live the fullest life she can.”

Barrister Alexander Hutton QC, a representative for the Gloucester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented that “We are extremely sorry for the failings that happened in relation to the care of this claimant. The consequences for her have been very grave. I would like to pay tribute to her family. They have been unstinting in their support of the claimant in very difficult circumstances. We do hope that this compensation helps and we do wish the claimant and her family all the best for the future.”

Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim Resolved Through Negotiation

Posted on: October 1st, 2016 by Editor

 

A woman’s claim for cancer misdiagnosis has been resolved through out-of-court negotiations, resulting in a six-figure settlement of compensation.

The woman, who has remained anonymous throughout proceedings, visited her GP with concerns over a growth on her foot. The mole had recently changed shape and and size, as well as becoming itchy. However, the GP assured her that this was not a problem and sent her home.

Not pleased with this diagnosis, the patient decided to visit another GP in the same practice a few weeks later. However, this GP gave a similar diagnosis to the first and saw no need to refer her to a specialist. In neither appointment was the size of the mole taken.

As the mole continued to worry the woman, she decided to visit a third doctor at another practice. The GP decided that she was not able to completely remove the mole, though offered to cut off the top. The patient refused this treatment, and was finally referred to a dermatologist in her local hospital.

The dermatologist undertook a biopsy of the growth, which was then sent away to diagnostics. When the results came back, they regrettably showed that the mole was in fact cancerous. The woman underwent immediate surgery to remove the rest of the mole, though further tests indicated that the cancer had metastasised. She is currently undergoing treatment for the secondary cancer.

Once she was correctly diagnose, the woman consulted a medical negligence solicitor and subsequently made a claim for cancer misdiagnosis compensation against the first GP and their practice. In the claim, she alleged that had the referral been made earlier, it would have allowed an earlier diagnosis and her current prognosis may be better.

However, both the GP and the surgery disputed the claim for compensation, denying that they were liable for any misdiagnosis. Yet once they were threatened with court action, their insurance company entered negotiations with the woman and her solicitors and the claim was settled for six figures.

Jaw Injury Patient Compensated by NHS Trust

Posted on: September 9th, 2016 by Editor

 

A woman, whose jaw was severely injured after a surgical mask was incorrectly applied during a surgery, has been awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation.

In December 2010, Amanda Walker (forty-eight from Knaresborough in North Yorkshire) received the devastating news that she had miscarried twins. As is routine in such sad circumstances, Amanda required an operation to remove the miscarried foetuses and, as such, attended the Harrogate District Hospital. However, after the “routine” procedure was carried out, Amanda awoke with a severe pain in her jaw, and she was unable to open her mouth.

Amanda had a pre-existing dental condition diagnosed over a decade earlier, and doctors at the hospital said that it was this condition that caused Amanda her pain. As such, Amanda chose to visit her dentist to resolve the issue, though when her dentist examined her jaw, she discovered that it had been severely dislocated. A MRI revealed extreme tissue damage, akin to that seen in car-crash victims. The extent of the damage and injury has meant that Amanda has not been able to return to her job in PR and marketing.

The injury required four corrective surgeries and an implant.Though the Harrogate District Hospital continued to claim that they were not at fault for the damage,  Amanda  chose to consult a solicitor. The solicitor conducted an investigation and concluded that the way in which the surgical mask was applied to Amanda caused her injury, and not the pre-existing condition.

Amanda subsequently made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, who denied any liability for Amanda’s injury until very recently. However, when they did eventually admit fault, Amanda was awarded six figures of compensation for the surgical mask injury.

Dr David Scullion, the Medical Director of the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, commented that “The Trust is pleased an agreement has been reached. We have apologised to Ms Walker for the impact this injury has had on her. We conducted an investigation into Ms Walker’s care with us in 2010 and want to give assurance that we have learned all we can from this incident.”

Patient Files Claim for Hospital Eye Infection

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by Editor

A man, who has remained anonymous throughout proceedings, has entered negotiations with the Gloucester Royal NHS Foundation Trust after he contracted a severe infection at an unclean facility.

The patient was receiving treatment at the Ophthalmic Department of the Cheltenham General Hospital in December 2015. The procedure, described as routine, involved the injection of medication into the gelatinous substance supporting the eye such that it can reach the retina.

Yet, a few days after the procedure was undertaken, the anonymous man developed a severe infection in his eye, know as endopthalmitis. This eventually progressed and lead to the complete loss of sight in the affected eye. The infection – which affects the internal layers of the eye – is usually associated with intraocular surgery.

The man, after recovery, sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Gloucester Royal NHS Foundation. In the claim, the patient alleged that the room in which he received treatment was dirty and as such it was responsible for his eventual blindness, as opposed to the allegations that his infection was just a complication of the procedure.

After these allegations of unsanitary conditions was received, an investigation ensued into the facilities at the department and discovered that there were many failings in the care of the patient. The sink was cluttered and the room with dirty, with dust collection on several surfaces. Additionally, trolleys were not properly cleaned after sterilisation.

The report also found that the clinicians administering the procedure were negligent, failing to adhere to guidelines. For example, it is recommended that antiseptic is left on the patient’s eye for at least three minutes before the treatment is carried out.

The Gloucester Royal NHS Foundation Trust, admitted their negligence and have entered negotiations with the anonymous patient and his lawyers such that a settlement of compensation can be awarded.

Family of Man Misdiagnosed with Neck Injury to Pursue Claim

Posted on: July 20th, 2016 by Editor

The family of an elderly man – who died after his neck injury went undiagnosed for many weeks after the initial accident – have expressed their intent to pursue a claim for compensation.

Patrick Byrne, aged eighty-seven, fell in his home in Melksham on the 23rd May 2015. Patrick was a rushed to Bath’s Royal United Hospital and was admitted for monitoring. There, his condition quickly deteriorated and he began experiencing severe pains in his chest. Eventually, this moved up and it transpired that the fall had caused paralysis in his neck.

Members of Patrick’s family – who were very concerned with his condition – reportedly pleaded with staff to conduct a more thorough examination, though no such revision of the case was undertaken. A few days later, Patrick was moved to the Chippenham Community Hospital, though a second fall caused his return to the Royal United Hospital.

Eventually – many weeks after the initial causative fall – scans were conducted that revealed that Patrick’s accident had caused a compression of his spinal cord. Yet, though the correct diagnosis was finally made, Patrick did not recover from his paralysis and he died on the 21st October 2015.

In light of the circumstances of Patrick’s misdiagnosis and death, Avon Coroner’s Court held an inquest  into the months preceding Patrick’s passing. The court ruled that Patrick died because of natural causes, despite apparent dissent. Peter Harrowing, a coroner, disagreed with the ruling, commenting that he believed that Patrick died because of medical negligence. He argued that the misdiagnosis was evidence that Patrick did not receive an adequate standard of care when he was first admitted with his injury.

Members of Patrick’s family have chosen to speak to the press concerning the verdict, commenting that they find the ruling of the court “bizarre”. They have also expressed their intent to pursue a claim for compensation in court. Elizabeth, Patrick’s daughter, commented to the Wiltshire Times that “The standard of care my father received fell well below what should have been expected and, if the neck fracture had been diagnosed earlier, he could have had treatment which would have avoided the paralysis and his last months would not have been as distressing. The evidence was there. There were a lot of failures.”

The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust – who oversee proceedings at the hospital – has also issued a statement, claiming that “We would once again like to offer our deepest condolences to Mr Byrne’s family at this difficult time. We acknowledge that we did not always meet our own high standards of care on this occasion and for this we apologise.”

Care Home Operators Fined for Death of Resident

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016 by Editor

BUPA, a healthcare company that also runs residential care homes, has been issued a £400,000 fine for failings that lead to the death of a resident.

Josephine Millard, a ninety-one year-old resident of Penrith’s Beacon Edge Care Home, was found dead on the floor of her room on the 24th September 2013. It was determined that her death was caused by a fall from her bed, leading to a Health and Safety Executives investigation. The HSE uncovered many failings in Josephine’s care – notably, a pressure sensor that would have alerted staff at the home to Josephine’s fall had been deactivated. This was despite clear policies at the facility concerning bedrail safety.

Additionally, the report revealed that staff at the care home were not adequately trained in bedrail use and safety, and no regular checks were conducted concerning the bedrails. The HSE determined that, across the residential facility, there was a general lack of “care and support for people with dementia type illnesses” .

BUPA Care Homes (CFC Homes) Ltd were then prosecuted by the HSE contravening Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company, at a hearing in the Carlisle Magistrates’ Court earlier this year, admitted their guilt to all charges.

Last month, the case proceeded to the Carlisle Crown Court for sentencing. The negligent healthcare company  was ordered to pay a £400,000 fine for their failings, as well as told to pay  £15,206 in prosecution costs.

HSE Inspector Carol Forster commented after the hearing that “The need for adequate risk assessment and management of third party bedrails has been recognised in the healthcare sector for a number of years. In this case there was a lack of appropriate assessment of the residents’ changing needs and review of the control measures in place to protect her. The measures that were in place were not used correctly in that the sensor pad which would have alerted staff to the resident’s being out of bed was not switched on”.

Compensation Approved for Cerebral Palsy Claim

Posted on: May 14th, 2016 by Editor

London’s High Court have approved a settlement of compensation for a boy who is severely disabled because of birth injuries he sustained. 

At the East Surrey Hospital in March 2009, Thomas Hord was born via an emergency Caesarean Section. However, despite a diagnosis of foetal distress syndrome, Thomas’ delivery was delayed by twenty minutes because of medical staff’s failure to act in an appropriate manner. During this delay, Thomas was deprived of oxygen and sustained severe brain damage. 

Now, as a result of his brain damage, Thomas suffers from cerebral palsy. Additionally, he can only communicate using his eyes and has epilepsy. However, despite these disabilities, Thomas is attending a mainstream primary school. He also lives at home with his parents, Samantha and Christopher, and three siblings in Crawley, West Sussex. 

Samantha and Christopher sought legal counsel on their son’s behalf and proceeded to make a claim for birth injury compensation. The claim was made against the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, who conceded liability for Thomas’ injuries in 2011. A compensation settlement was then negotiated between the parties, which consists of a  £2.5 million lump sum, as well as annual index-linked payments of £100,000. These annual payments will increase in value to £245,000 when Thomas is eighteen years old. 

The settlement then went to London’s High Court for approval by Mr Justice Warby. During the hearing, Thomas was read an apology by Michael Wilson the Chief Executive for the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. In the statement, Wilson expressed regret for Thomas’ mismanaged birth, subsequent injuries and “the difficulties caused for him and his family”. Margaret Bowron, the QC for the NHS Trust, also commented that she admired the dedication and care that Thomas’ parents have shown him. 

Judge Warby also expressed his admiration of Thomas’ parents: “I would like to express my admiration for the parents’ work and devotion to the care of their son, particularly in light of the pressures of work and family matters, that have no doubt made it even more difficult. The court wishes the family the very best for the future.” He then proceeded to approve the settlement of compensation. 

Sharp Increase in Six-Figure Settlements Paid out by DDU

Posted on: April 18th, 2016 by Editor

The Dental Defence Union (DDU) has released figures showing that over £1.1 million has been paid out in claims against its members over the last twelve months.

The DDU, the dentistry equivalent of the Medical Defence Union (MDU), provides both legal support and indemnity for its members when compensation claims for negligent dentistry are made against them. Recently, the DDU has claimed that there has been a notable increase in the number of claims being resolved for over £100,000 over the past decade.

In 2006, just two claims were resolved for over £100,000. However, since then, the DDU has paid out almost £5 million worth of six-figure settlements, with eleven of these being paid out in 2015 alone. Of these eleven, the highest was paid out for a failure to diagnose and subsequently treat periodontal disease, a condition that causes tooth loss.

The head of the DDU, John Makin, has expressed his concern that the sheer number of high value claims is making indemnity more difficult for members. “We are seeing disturbing rises in the cost of clinical negligence claims and a surge of claims exceeding £100,000 against our dental members,” he said.

Makin has attributed the rise in claims to rising expectations from patients, as well as increasingly prominent marketing by medical negligence solicitors. The figures show that the most common reason for a patient to file a medical negligence claim was because of unsatisfactory or excessive cosmetic treatments.

However, other commentators have disagreed with Makin. One, a contributor to dentistry.co.uk, has said that the comments made by the head of the DDU are misleading, and that patients should be able to expect a high level of care from dental practitioners. Additionally, he claims that should a treatment go wrong, the onus should be on the dentist to correct it – otherwise, the patient should be compensated.
The writer added that it was unjust for Makin to blame medical negligence solicitors for the trend, as he points out that – without the solicitors – negligent dentists would get away with their malpractice unscathed. He concluded by criticising the DDU, saying that if they admit liability earlier in negotiations, their legal costs would be much lower.

Parents to be Compensated for Failings in Psychiatric Care

Posted on: March 26th, 2016 by Editor

The parents of a woman who died because of malnourishment whilst in psychiatric care are due to receive a £7,500 settlement of compensation. 
The woman in question, Ruth Mitchell, died aged forty in September 2012 in her Plymouth flat. Under the care of Livewell Southwest (formerly known as Plymouth Community Healthcare), Ruth died because of complications because of malnourishment. When she was found, her living conditions were described as “squalid and impoverished”, with no furniture, curtains, rugs or carpets.
An investigation followed, which found that Plymouth Community Healthcare had failed to adequately review Ruth’s situation, even though there were concerns over her “deteriorating self-care” in 2011. The care facility did not assess Ruth as a vulnerable adult, and the investigation found that the nurse’s response to the situation “did not go far enough”.
Anne and Russell, Ruth’s parents, filed a complaint over the level of care provided to their daughter with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The complaint, only partially upheld, lead to a report that concluded “there is not enough evidence for us to say whether Ruth’s death could have been avoided if she had received appropriate care, but opportunities to prevent her deterioration and death were completely lost.”
The Ombudsman’s report has lead to a £7,500 compensation settlement being offered to Russell and Anne for their loss due to failings in psychiatric care. The nurse who was responsible for Ruth, Joanna Campbell, faces a disciplinary hearing for her failure to keep adequate records over a four-year period and for not raising safeguarding concerns, leaving a patient at an “unwarranted risk”.
Russell Mitchell, who spoke with the BBC after the announcement of the four-figure compensation settlement, has commented that “nothing can compensate for the loss of a child. We only really started this because we wanted someone to say sorry. My wife was particularly moved because she felt that Ruth couldn’t be the only one. We know it won’t bring our daughter back but it might help someone else’s daughter.”

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