Archive for March, 2016

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.”

MDU Sees Increase in Medical Negligence Claims against Practise Nurses

Posted on: March 11th, 2016 by Editor

The Medical Defence Union has identified a twelve-fold increase in medical negligence claims against practise nurses according to a new report.

The Medical Defence Union is an organization for medical professionals that provides legal support and insurance against medical negligence claims for its members. According to recently released figures, medical negligence claims against practise nurses belonging to the organisation increased from two claims in 2005 to twenty-five claims in 2015.

The figures released by the Medical Defence Union are similar to those published by the Medical Protection Society in 2012. Both organisations say that the increase in medical negligence claims against practise nurses is attributable to greater demands being placed on primary care, a change in the roles of practise nurses, and a greater knowledge of patients´ rights.

Within both sets of figures, the most common reason for medical negligence claims against practise nurses is missed or late diagnoses. Missed or late diagnoses accounted for more than double the next most common reason for medical negligence claims against practise nurses – the failure to properly monitor and manage chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Dr Beverley Ward – the medico-legal advisor at the MDU – identified three key areas that were significant factors for the rise in medical negligence claims against practise nurses. She said that the failure to adequately assess a patient´s condition, the subsequent delay in referring the patient to a GP or specialist, and failure to adequately monitor the progression of a disease were all factors that needed addressing.

Dr Ward added that practise nurses are seeing more and more patients that traditionally would have been seen by a GP, and commented:“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.”


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