UK Medical Negligence Claims News

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.”

Claim Settled for Surgical Packing Left Inside Surgery

Posted on: February 28th, 2016 by Editor

A woman has settled her claim for the failure to remove surgical packing after she gave birth to her son in 2012.
When Elise Cattle, then aged twenty-seven, had her son Freddie in the Hull Women and Children’s Hospital in August 2012 she suffered extreme abdominal pain, bleeding and infections. It was so extreme that she was unable to care for her new child, and unable to change or bathe her son she missed out on vital time with her child whilst her parents took care of him.
For five months after the treatment of the GP, Elise was finally referred to a specialist. After an examination, the surgeon discovered that surgical packaging  – used during the birth to stem bleeding – had been left inside of her. Once this was removed, the pains Elise had been experiencing had disappeared.
After seeking legal counsel, Elise made a claim for medical negligence against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust. An investigation followed, and the trust acknowledged that mistakes had been made in Elise’s care. Negotiations ensued, and a £7,500 in compensation was paid to Elise.
In a comment to her local paper after the announcement of the settlement, Elise said that  “When I got home from hospital, the pain just got worse and worse. I couldn’t sit down for days afterwards, and had to use a rubber ring to sit on. I was laid on the sofa while my mum and dad did everything. It really affected my bond with Freddie. I felt like I’d failed him.”
Elise’s legal representatives added that iIt is accepted by the NHS that these errors are being made simply because healthcare staff and providers are not following clear, simple guidelines.” Mike Wright, the Chief Nurse for the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, also spoke to the paper: “ events are rare, but when mistakes do happen, we are committed to being open and honest about them” Mr Wright told reporters.

Solicitors Start Investigation into to Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer

Posted on: January 28th, 2016 by Editor

A patient, whose cervical cancer symptoms were ignored because of her age, has entrusted her solicitors to investigate whether or not she can claim compensation. 
The victim, Tayne Eaton – aged twenty-five from Ipswich – started visiting her GP in summer 2013 with bleeding and pain. These, both symptoms of cervical cancer, were not enough to get Tayne a smear test as she was below the age to automatically qualify for the NHS’s smear test.
In September of the next year, after the birth of her son, Tayne was granted a smear test that was not carried out until March 2015. At this stage, a tumour of 9 cm diameter was discovered. Wayne underwent a course of chemotherapy, as well as a series of invasive operations – including a hysterectomy – to prevent metastasis of the cancer.
Now, after seeking legal counsel, Tayne has asked her lawyers to investigate whether or not she is entitled to medical negligence compensation for the failure to act on her symptoms. She alleges that, had the smear test been carried out sooner, she may still be able to have children.
Tayne has also claimed that, if they had considered cervical cancer as a possibility sooner, the diagnosis would have been easier and her prognosis improved. Speaking with a reporter, she said that “I knew something was seriously wrong but I just seemed to go from test to test without anyone really knowing what was happening.”
Tayne’s legal representatives have also commented on the failure to act on the symptoms of cervical cancer, adding that “Cervical cancer is a treatable disease with a good long term prognosis when it is diagnosed early, but delays can have terrible consequences. Any symptoms should not be dismissed; it is vital that women know what to look out for and take medical advice but, equally, that doctors pay attention to their concerns”.

Six-Figure Fine for Avoidable Deaths in Stafford Hospitals

Posted on: December 19th, 2015 by Editor

 

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been issued a fine of £500,000 for medical negligence that resulted in four avoidable deaths of four of their patients.

An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into four deaths that occurred at Stafford Hospital which were believed to be caused by medical negligence at the facility. The investigation concluded that three of the deaths were due to hospital faults, and a fourth was because the patient was administered a medication that she was allergic to, after which charges were brought against the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

 

In November of this year, the NHS Trust at fault plead guilty to “very significant failings” at the Stafford Magistrates’ Court, after which the case was sent for sentencing the Stafford Crown Court. During the hearing, evidence was given that three of the charges pertained to failures by the hospital to carry out adequate risk assessments and control measures to protect patients against falls.

 

Mr Justice Hadden-Cave, at the Stafford Crown Court – who had previously fined the NHS Trust £200,000 for previous failings relation to a patient’s death in 2007 – heard testimonies from relatives of the four victims. Huge Haddon-Cave said that the lack of a robust management system in the NHS Trust was largely to blame for the deaths.

The judge commented after sentencing that: “I hope today brings some closure and finally draws a line under the past, and that Stafford and Cannock Hospitals can open a new and bright chapter and become the hospitals that their dedicated staff and local communities can once again be proud of.”

However, the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has stopped operating. As such, the £500,000 fine issued by Mr Justice Hadden-Cave will be paid by the Secretary of State for Health, who will also be liable for payment of the £35,517 that it cost to bring the Trust to court.

 

HSE Inspector Wayne Owen issued a statement on behalf of the families of the victims, who acknowledged the NHS’s apology.

 

Woman with Fear of Medical Instruments Recovers Compensation for a Surgical Misunderstanding

Posted on: December 8th, 2015 by Editor

A woman with a phobia of medical instruments, who had metal clips inserted during a thyroidectomy, has recovered compensation for a surgical misunderstanding.

For all of her life,sixty-six year old Sylvia Ramsay has suffered from a phobia of medical instruments. In 2010, she underwent a thyroidectomy only after assurances that consultant surgeon Dr Akineye Ojo would use dissolvable stitches during the procedure rather than the metal clips that are usually inserted.

After the surgery, as far as Sylvia was aware, Dr Ojo had consented to her wishes. However, one year later – after an x-ray had been taken of Sylvia´s throat to investigate a complaint of breathing difficulties – she was alarmed to discover that the consultant surgeon had ignored her fears and left twenty-five of the metal clips inside her.

The discovery of the metal clips inside her had a devastating psychological effect. Such was the degree of Sylvia´s inability to cope that her GP almost sectioned her under the Mental Health Act. Sylvia had months of therapy to help her come to terms with the fact that she had medical instruments inside of her and to prepare for further surgery to have the metal clips removed in 2013.

After the removal of the clips, Sylvia complained that Dr Ojo had been negligent in her treatment. The consultant surgeon denied negligence and argued that the insertion of the metal clips was due to a misunderstanding. Sylvia subsequently sought legal advice and subsequently claimed compensation for a surgical misunderstanding.

Sylvia´s solicitors pursued the claim for compensation for a surgical misunderstanding and eventually Dr Ojo eventually agreed to an undisclosed out-of-court settlement of the claim without an admission of liability. Although undisclosed, the settlement is believed to be in five figures.

Speaking about the settlement of compensation for a surgical misunderstanding, Sylvia told a reporter from her local newspaper: “I know this is not a rational reaction but it is not something I can control. It´s like putting an arachnophobe into a room full of spiders and telling them not to be so silly.”

Settlement for Burns Victim Awarded

Posted on: November 16th, 2015 by Editor

The family of a woman who died because she sustained burns after a lack of care has been awarded an undisclosed settlement of compensation.

The accident occurred on the 15th February 2012, when Jessie King – aged ninety – was visited by two daily carers who assisted her in getting up and showered. During this visit, whilst Jessie was preparing for her shower, she fell and landed with her back pressed against a hot radiator.

One of the carers phoned Rothercare, the care service provider, to ask for assistance after the fall. However, neither carer considered the fact that the radiator was on. When the specialists arrived, Jessie was helped up and continued to shower as the carers prepared her breakfast, before leaving.

Later that day, when Jessie was visited by her daughter, Denise – accompanied by a district nurse – her burns were discovered. An ambulance came to the house to take Jessie to the Northern General Hospital, where she was referred to the Burns Unit and underwent skin grafts.

Jessie also suffered from dementia, and as such the claim for compensation was made through one of her daughters, Jean. The claim was made against Saga Home Care, who traded as Nestor Primecare Services Ltd, the company who employed the two carers who failed to prevent Jessie’s burns.

Though liability was denied by the company, negotiations between the party lead to an out-of-court settlement between the two parties. However, Jessie passed away in May 2013, so the settlement was paid to her family.

Speaking with reporters after the compensation was announced, one of Jessie’s children said  “The injuries mum suffered were absolutely horrendous and we can’t believe that her carers failed to notice she was lying against a hot radiator and that she had suffered severe burns. We are absolutely shocked that Nestor Primecare Services Ltd has continued to deny liability for the injuries and that they have never apologised for what happened.”

Burns Injury due to Lack of Care Settled for Undisclosed Sum

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by Editor

A woman’s claim for compensation due to lack of care has been settled for an undisclosed sum in an out-of-court agreement. 

 

In February 2012, two carers visited Jessie King (90) at her Rotherham house to perform their daily task of helping Jessie out of bed and taking her to the bathroom for a shower. One day, Jessie was preparing to take her shower and slipped, landing with her back against the bathroom’s radiator.

 

The two carers contacted a home care services provider-Rothercare-to ask for assistance after Jessie’s fall, but did not realise that the radiator against which Jessie fell was still on. When the Rothercare professionals arrived, Jessie was helped to her feet, and she finished her shower. The two carers finished their daily routine and then left.

 

When Jessie was visited later that day by her daughter Denise and a District Nurse, her injuries were discovered. They called for an ambulance to take Jessie to the Northern General Hospital to be treated. After being seen by medical professionals, Jessie was referred to by the burns unit, where she had to undergo skin grafts as the burns on her back were so severe.

 

Jessie-who suffers from dementia and thus could not make the claim for compensation by herself-made a claim for her burn injuries due to a lack of care through her daughter Jean. The claim was made against the company who had employed the two carers who had failed to consider that the radiator was still turned on-Nestor Primecare Services Ltd, who were trading as Saga Home Care.

 

The defendants denied liability for Jessie’s injuries, but after pressure from Jessie’s legal team, Nestor Primecare Services Ltd negotiated an out-of-court settlement of compensation for burns due to a lack of care. Jessie passed away in May 2013.

 

Speaking after the settlement of compensation was awarded, another of Jessie´s daughters said: “The injuries mum suffered were absolutely horrendous and we can’t believe that her carers failed to notice she was lying against a hot radiator and that she had suffered severe burns. We are absolutely shocked that Nestor Primecare Services Ltd has continued to deny liability for the injuries and that they have never apologised for what happened.”

Woman Receives Compensation for Mistreated Broken Leg Injury

Posted on: October 28th, 2015 by Editor

A woman has received compensation from the Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust for a mistreated broken leg injury that has left her with a deformed right leg and nerve damage.

In August 2012, Sally Marsh (25) of Diglis, Worcestershire, was playing soccer for her local women’s football team. During the game, she fell awkwardly on her right leg, resulting in two broken bones. The emergency services were called, and Sally was taken by ambulance to Worcester Royal Hospital, where her leg was placed into a full cast.

As Sally was released from hospital, she was informed that it was safe to put weight on her right leg. The full-leg cast was replaced by a half-leg cast after a two month period, and remained on Sally’s leg for a further six weeks. When that cast was removed, it appeared that Sally’s leg had not healed properly.

Sally was seen by an orthopaedic specialist, who discovered that Sally’s bone had set at a nineteen degree angle. Sally would need another operation to align the bone properly. The NHS Trust cancelled and postponed Sally’s operation several times, resulting in Sally not having the operation until nine months after the misaligned bone was discovered.

During those nine months, Sally experienced continuous pain in her leg. She was forced to take time off of work, and was unable to pursue her regular pastimes or hobbies. When the correction surgery finally took place, Sally had a metal cage fitted to her leg to support it. However, the cage led to Sally developing a bacterial infection, which resulted in her taking antibiotics for several weeks.

Sally sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for the negligence treatment of a broken leg against the Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. The claim alleged that Sally should have been kept in hospital longer when she initially broke her leg, and that there was a failure by the hospital to appreciate the need for prompt surgical intervention. She also said that the hospital’s mistakes led to avoidable nerve damage and a deformity in her right leg.

An investigation was launched into Sally’s injuries. The Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust acknowledged that there had been failings in the standard of care which Sally had received. The defendants admitted liability for Sally’s injuries, and the two legal teams are in the process of negotiating a settlement of her claim for the negligent treatment of a broken leg.

After the Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability, Sally commented: “It’s a relief that at least now the NHS Trust has admitted that it made mistakes and my legal case can move to the next stage. I just hope that no one else has to suffer as I have in the future.”

Court Awards Compensation for Birth Injury

Posted on: October 20th, 2015 by Editor

 

A Court of Sessions judge in Edinburgh has awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation to a child who was born with a brachial plexus injury because of midwife negligence.

The claim was made by an anonymous woman on behalf of her child, who is too young to represent themselves in legal matters. The child – known as “Baby C” – was born with a permanent brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder because of excessive force used during his mother’s labour.

The boy was born at the Law Hospital Maternity Unit in July 1999. Initially, it was planned that Lynn Kerr – a student midwife – would perform the delivery, but as it progressed Baby C began to emerge with the umbilical cord around his throat. From that point, Sister Rosemary Murphy – a more experienced midwife – took over.

The court heard from the mother’s legal team of how Sister Murphy didn’t recognise the situation as one of potential emergency and used excessive force (likened to a “tug of war” in court) to deliver the baby boy. The lawyers commented that the actions by the midwife were “pretty violent” and alleged that she neglected protocols that were established in 1999 for such a situation.

Both the Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Sister murphy denied negligence and disputed the mother’s claim for midwife negligence. However, the judge overseeing proceedings in the Court of Sessions – Judge Lady Rae – found in the mother’s favour, ruling that the evidence was sufficient to show that Sister Murphy’s actions were wrong.

In her written judgement, Lady Rae noted that “I am satisfied that in course of his birth, C suffered a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side as a result of the negligence of the defenders’ employee Sister Rosemary Murphy and for whom the defenders are responsible. Sister Murphy failed to recognise an obstetric emergency after the student midwife had been unable to deliver the body of C after delivery of his head. As a result of these failures C was born with a severe brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder.”

Before awarding Baby C £725,000 in compensation, Lady Rae commented that Sister Murphy should have called for help “at the time and in the circumstances”.

New Data Shows Rising Concern About NHS Scotland’s Staffing Levels Among Health Professionals

Posted on: September 27th, 2015 by Editor

The Scottish Liberal Democrat Party has recently released data shows that 7,253 complaints about NHS staff levels have been made to management in the NHS Scotland in the last two years. The data-which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act-showed that the majority of these complaints came from concerned healthcare professionals.

The figures showed that the number of vacancies for consultants had increased by a factor of three, rising from 128 to 447.5, while the number of vacancies for nursing and midwifery positions have increased by twenty percent, from 1,865 to 2,256 in the past three years.

Jim Hume-the Liberal Democrat Health spokesman-cited the figures in an attack against the Scottish National Party (SNP) and their management of the health sevice. He stated: “These stark figures underline the pressure that NHS staff are under as a result of the failure of the SNP government to get to grips with the challenges facing our health service.”

As a response, SNP Health Secretary Shona Robinson said: “[The complaints about NHS staff levels] are critically important. Under this government, NHS staff numbers have risen by over 10,000, with more doctors and nurses now delivering care for the people of Scotland”.

She added: “We also have record high numbers of GPs – including the most GPs per head of the population in the UK. To give people the high quality healthcare they deserve, we are investing in and supporting a highly skilled NHS workforce. Over the past year alone, this includes an additional 600 nurses and midwives.”

The sheer volume of complaints about NHS staff levels are a major cause for concern in Scotland. It is notable that the complaints are being made by employees concerned about safety issues in the hospitals in which they work. Low staffing levels place those healthcare professionals under more strain, meaning mistakes are more likely to be made. Patients may suffer avoidable injuries or the unnecessary deterioration of an existing condition as a result.

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