Medical Negligence

Blinded Patient Negotiates Claim for Settlement

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

An anonymous patient, who was rendered blind in one eye after receiving a substandard level of care at the Cheltenham General Hospital, has entered negotiations to resolve his claim for compensation.

The negligent treatment was administered in December 2015, when the patient attended the Ophthalmic Department of the Cheltenham General Hospital such that medication could be delivered to his retina. This entailed what is described as a “routine procedure” in which medication is injected into the humour of the eye, a gelatinous substance that gives the shape to the eyeball.

However, shortly after his discharge from hospital, the patient began experiencing pain in his eye. It transpired that he had developed an infection. This severe complication, known as endopthalmitis and affecting the internal layers of the eye, is associated with intraocular surgery. For this patient, it gradually worsened until it tragically resulted in the loss of sight in the affected eye.

The patient alleges that the infection was the direct result of unclean conditions in the theatre in which the procedure was carried out. An investigation ensued, which revealed that there were many failings in the sanitation of the room. The sink was described as cluttered, and that dust had collected on surfaces all over the room, including the operating lamp. Additionally, the medical staff at the facility were found to have contributed to the patient’s injury, as it was discovered that they failed to adhere to established guidelines for the treatment. For example, they failed to apply antiseptic to the surface of the eye for at least three minutes before injection.

Upon discovering the results of the investigation, the patient sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Gloucester Royal NHS Foundation Trust for his blindness due to unsanitary conditions. The trust have since conceded liability and entered negotiations with the patient.

Family Expresses Discontent Over Coroner’s Verdict

Posted on: July 19th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

The surviving family of a man who died as a result of undiagnosed injuries after a fall have announced that they hope to pursue compensation despite the coroner’s verdict.

On the 23rd May 2015, Patrick Byrne – aged eighty-seven and living in Melksham – fell in his home. He was rushed to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, where he was admitted for monitoring. After his admission, Patrick’s condition deteriorated and he began experiencing pains in his chest. Soon afterwards, Patrick found that he was unable to move his neck.

Members of Patrick’s family consistently asked medical staff to conduct a more thorough examination of his condition, yet no such examination was undertaken. Patrick was then moved to the Chippenham Community Hospital, though after another fall at that facility he was re-admitted to the Royal United Hospital.

Many weeks after the initial fall, a scan was carried out on Patrick’s neck. This revealed that the first fall and caused a compression of his spinal cord, which would account for his symptoms. Yet, despite this diagnosis, Patrick’s injury did not improve and he regrettably died on the 21st October 2015.

An inquest into the circumstances of Patrick’s death held at the Avon Coroner’s Court earlier this month. It delivered the verdict that Patrick died from natural causes, in spite of the advice of Peter Harrowing, a coroner who claims that Patrick’s death was the result of medical failings and a misdiagnosis upon first admission.

The family of the deceased have commented on the verdict, expressing their disbelief at the “bizarre” verdict. They have also indicted that they hope to pursue a claim for compensation for Patrick’s suffering and death.  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.”

A spokesperson for the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust 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.”

Claims for Compensation against Nurse Practitioners See Significant Increase

Posted on: March 10th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

Claims for compensation against nurse practitioners have seen a significant increase over the past decade according to the Medical Defence Union.

The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is an organization that provides clinical indemnity and legal support for members of the medical profession. According to a recent report, just two claims for compensation against nurse practitioners were made against its members in 2005. Ten years later, and the MDU reports that number has risen to twenty-five.

The figures released by the MDU mirror those revealed by the Medical Protection Society in 2012. Both reports attribute the increase in claims for compensation against nurse practitioners to more emphasis being given to primary nursing care, the role of nurse practitioners being expanded and a greater awareness of patients´ rights.

An analysis of the figures released by the MDU and Medical Protection Society both show that the majority of claims for compensation against nurse practitioners are for missed diagnoses and the failure to properly manage chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

While acknowledging that nurse practitioners are seeing patients who would historically have been seen by a GP, both organisations identified three specific areas that had contributed significantly to the rise in claims for compensation against nurse practitioners:

  • A failure to adequately assess a patient´s condition
  • A failure or a delay to refer a patient to a specialist or GP
  • A failure to adequately monitor the progress of a disease or illness

Dr Beverley Ward – the medico-legal advisor at the MDU – expanded on the reasons for there being an increase in claims for compensation against nurse practitioners. Dr Ward said:

“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 Mother who had Surgical Implements Left in her After Birth

Posted on: February 29th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

A woman, who had surgical packaging left in her after she gave birth to her son at the Hull Women and Children’s Hospital, has settled her claim for compensation.

The patient, Elise Cattle – aged twenty-seven – gave birth to her son Freddie in August 2012. However, for months after the birth Ms Cattle experienced sever pain, bleeding and infections that interfered with her ability to care for her new baby. She was unable to carry out basic parental care, and as such Freddie’s grandparents had to undertake the care of the baby, reducing Ms Cattle’s bonding time with her newborn.

After five long months of ineffective treatment through her GP, Elise was referred to a specialist who discovered that surgical packaging used during the birth to stem any bleeding had been mistakingly left inside her. Upon its removal, Elise’s symptoms disappeared.

Elise sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for medical negligence against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust, who oversee the running of the hospital where she gave birth. An investigation into the mistake was conducted and the Trust admitted full liability for Elise’s injuries. Negotiations were carried out between the parties, and a settlement of compensation of £7,500 was agreed upon.

After the resolution of the claim, Elise recounted to a local paper 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.”

Her legal representatives added: “It is accepted by the NHS that these errors are being made simply because healthcare staff and providers are not following clear, simple guidelines.” The Chief Nurse for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Mike Wright, told the newspaper that “when mistakes do happen, we are committed to being open and honest about them”

High Court Hearing to Determine Outcome for Spinal Abscess Claim

Posted on: February 6th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

The claim for delayed treatment of spinal abscesses – which left a patient paralysed – is to be heard in the High Courts of London later this month.

The male patient – whose anonymity has been preserved for legal reasons – sought treatment for spinal abscesses in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, but the delay in treatment caused them to be paralysed from the waist down. This has meant they are reliant on a wheelchair and constant care from others.

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – who oversee the runnings of the hospital where the male patient received negligent treatment – conceded liability for the delayed treatment, though no consensus has been reached as to how much compensation the patient is entitled to receive. The trust claim that much of the costs of treatment are because of teenage drug abuse, which they are not responsible to pay for.

Taking these factors into account, the NHS Trust have valued the claim at under £1 million, arguing that the patient has maintained a “chaotic” lifestyle whilst wheelchair bound, still connected to drug addicts and other such “undesirable” characters. However, the patient’s own lawyers have estimated the value of the claim to be around £3.4 million.

Lawyers for the claimant argue that to refuse the man compensation because of his dependency disorder would be wrong as it would not allow him to adequately support himself. However, the NHS Trust argue that the patient has a responsibility to stop taking drugs, and that public policy dictates that the claim should be reduced.

The judge presiding over the case has mandated that nothing that can identify the claimant be published because of the sensitive nature. The case is expected to continue for the rest of the week.