Archive for April, 2015

Compensation Settlement for Failure to Medicate Awarded by Court

Posted on: April 19th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

A multi-million settlement of compensation has been awarded to a young man who was not administered vitamin K at birth.

The man, who has remained anonymous, was born in 1989 at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital with a vitamin K deficiency. This vitamin occurs naturally, and has many functions including the facilitation of calcium binding in tissues and the acceleration of blood clotting.

When he was born, guidelines stated that in these circumstances a vitamin K injection should be administered at birth. However, none of the medical professionals attending the birth administered such an injection. The decision to do so was made without the informed consent of the man’s mother.

Just three months after his birth, the baby returned to the hospital presenting with a flu-like illness and a high-pitched cry. He had also developed a squint and was not eating well. After many tests, the baby was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital. There, he was diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage and acute hydrocephalus.

The damage that the baby sustained was permanent, and as a child he suffered from many physical and cognitive disabilities. Now, the young man is still reliant on round-the-clock care. Acting on their son’s behalf, his parents made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Secretary of State for Health for the failure to administer vitamin K.

Liability for the man’s injuries was admitted by the secretary through the NHS. The NHS Litigation Authority facilitated negotiations of a settlement of compensation, which then proceeded to the Royal Courts of Justice in London for approval. The hearing was overseen by Judge Michael Yelton, who was told that the package – estimated to be worth £7.38 million – consisted of an initial lump sum of £2.345 million, followed by annual payments.
Judge Yelton approved the compensation settlement, which will ensure the man’s financial security in the future such that he can pay for home assistance and specialist accommodation.

Widow Wins Costs in Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Cancer against the NHS

Posted on: April 8th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

A widow has avoided bankruptcy after pursuing a claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS over a nine-year period – from Australia.

In November 2006, Dr David O´Reilly (55) died from metastatic colorectal cancer three years after being diagnosed with the disease. However, two years prior to the diagnosis being made, Dr O´Reilly – who was living in Chichester, Sussex, at the time – had undergone an endoscopy to detect the cause of the symptoms he was experiencing.

The consultant who conducted the endoscopy procedure failed to notice a lesion in David´s colon and, when David sought a second medical opinion, he was misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. Following David´s death, his widow – Sue – made a claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS, claiming that David would have survived much longer had the correct diagnosis been made at an earlier stage.

Sue subsequently moved back to Australia, as she had a severely disabled son – Shane – who suffered from cerebral palsy, and Sue needed the support of her family to care for him. As tort laws in Australia are similar to those in the UK, Sue applied for the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS to be heard in Australia. The NHS objected but, in 2010, the New South Wales Supreme Court agreed to Sue´s request and hearings began.

Unfortunately, within a year of Sue´s claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS getting underway, Shane died unexpectedly due to complications related to his cerebral palsy. The judge hearing the claim, Mr Justice Peter Garling, heard a motion from the NHS to transfer the case to the UK. He agreed that Sue no longer had the commitment of caring for her son to prevent her from travelling to a location where it would be more cost-effective to hear evidence from witnesses.

Judge Garling was appointed as a temporary examiner by the Royal Court of Justice in order that he could continue hearing evidence in the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS; and, earlier this year he found the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in breach of its duty of care, and awarded Sue £91,300 compensation for her husband´s premature death.

A parallel claim for emotional distress was dismissed on the basis that David would have lived just a few more years had his condition been correctly identified at the time of the original endoscopy. Of more concern to Sue was a motion brought by the NHS that it should only be liable for 25% of Sue´s legal costs. The NHS argued that Sue´s legal cost were disproportionately high in comparison to the award of compensation, and that they should not be liable for the full amount.

The costs of pursuing the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the NHS had run into millions in the nine years since David´s death and, if the NHS´ motion was agreed, the amount of debt Sue had accrued would force her into bankruptcy. Fortunately for Sue, Judge Garling dismissed the NHS´ motion and awarded Sue the full amount of her legal costs.