UK Delayed Diagnosis Negligence

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.”

Solicitors Help Family Claim Compensation for Jaundice Birth Injuries

Posted on: January 8th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

Solicitors from Devon are helping a family claim compensation for jaundice birth injuries after a four day old boy developed kernicterus.

Khan Gold was born on 15th April 2013 to Ed and Laura-Faye Gold at the Exeter Hospital in Devon and, apart from a little jaundice, was a perfectly healthy baby. Mother and son were allowed to go home the following day and, over the next few days, the family was regularly visited at their Honiton home by midwives checking on Khan´s progress.

On each occasion, Laura-Faye raised concerns about her son´s jaundice as it seemed to be getting worse, but on each occasion she was told it was nothing to worry about and advised to take Khan out into the sun. However, four days after he was born, Laura-Faye had problems feeding Khan and noticed that her son was arching his back as if in pain.

Laura-Faye called her local hospital, who advised her to bring her son in for an examination. The local hospital took a blood sample and advised Khan´s parents to take him back to Exeter Hospital to have the sample analysed. After several tests were conducted, Khan was diagnosed with kernicterus and transferred to intensive care.

Kernicterus is a condition in which an underdeveloped liver has failed to remove bilirubin from the bloodstream and – despite having a blood transfusion to replace half the blood in his body and spending a week under special lights that break down bilirubin – the pigment had got into Khan´s brain and he sustained brain damage.

Khan´s brain damage is likely to be permanent, and doctors are uncertain whether he will ever be able to walk. As he is going to need life-long care, his parents contacted medical negligence solicitors who helped them claim compensation for jaundice birth injuries against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

In their claim for compensation for jaundice birth injuries, Ed and Laura-Faye allege that midwives failed to follow NHS guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice. They also claim that the midwives who visited their home after Khan was born should have escalated Laura-Faye´s concerns in a timely manner to the family´s GP or Exeter Hospital´s paediatrician.

Solicitors representing the Gold family have also suggested that there were training issues at Exeter Hospital which need to be addressed, and have started negotiations with the NHS Foundation Trust to resolve the family´s claim for compensation for jaundice birth injuries. The final settlement is expected to be in seven figures.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – Angela Pedder – has apologised to the family for the failures which led to Khan suffering jaundice birth injuries. Since the circumstances of Khan´s avoidable injury were investigated, key changes have been made at the hospital which include that all babies born with jaundice are now tested for kernicterus.

Complaints against the NHS see Year-on-Year Increase

Posted on: November 29th, 2014 by Medical Negligence

According to data released by the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, complaints against the NHS have risen by almost 8 percent in the past year.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is an independent body to whom complaints against the NHS in England are made when patients or families have had a substandard experience in an NHS hospital, and the hospital has failed to satisfactorily deal with their complaint.

The PHSO has just released the first in a series of reports in which the volume of complaints against the NHS is broken down into the type of complaint that is made, against which NHS Trust the complaint is made and how many are accepted for investigation.

The figures released in the first report show that in the past twelve months written complaints against the NHS have risen from 162,019 in 2012/13 to 174,872 in 2013/14 and that 44 percent of the complaints that were accepted for investigation were upheld.

The most frequent causes of complaints were clinical care and treatment, a lack of communication, diagnoses (including failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, and misdiagnosis) and staff attitude. 28 percent of all complaints against the NHS were attributable to hospital failing to adequately apologise after mistakes had been made – double the percentage of 2012/13.

The most complaints received by PHSO against an NHS Trust were against Barts Health NHS Trust in London, who finished on top of the complaints table with 2,451 grievances. 12 per cent of those investigated were upheld, and a spokesperson for the NHS Trust said:

“As the largest NHS Trust in England, with over two million patient contacts a year, we would expect to see a proportionally higher rate of complaints when compared to other NHS Trusts. We take all complaints seriously and work with our patients to ensure they are treated in a swift, sensitive and compassionate manner.”

The Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust had the largest percentage of medical incidents investigated by the PHSO, while the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust in Bath seemed to have the most satisfied patients, with only 12 complaints made during 2013/2014.

Commenting on the figures, Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “These results should remind the NHS about the need for a more personalised approach to care that welcomes feedback, rather than becoming defensive. It is this culture change that is needed if services are to be improved for everyone.

“We know that poor communications, errors with diagnosis and poor care and treatment are the most common reasons why people complain to us about their hospital treatment. We hope NHS leaders use the data in this report to identify themes, and recurring problems in order to understand what they have done well and how they can improve their complaint handling.”

The full content of the report can be accessed on the Ombudsman´s website.

NHS Trust Pays Compensation for Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by Medical Negligence

The West Hertfordshire NHS Trust has been told to pay £70,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer to a patient whose initial test results were overlooked.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman told the NHS Trust to pay the compensation for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer to a patient – identified only as “Mrs G” – whose condition was overlooked when she attended the breast care unit of the St Albans Hospital in May 2010.

Subsequent tests eighteen months later showed that the breast cancer had developed into a terminal condition and an investigation into the error by the Health Ombudsman concluded that – had the breast cancer been detected at the time of her initial referral – Mrs G could have made a full recovery.

The patient – who is forty-one years old and who has a young son – had to give up her job in December 2011 after being told that her breast cancer was inoperable and that she had also developed secondary cancer in her bones, liver and brain.

The Ombudsman´s report insisted that the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust make a “full and sincere apology” to the patient and implement changes to ensure the same errors could not be made again. Julie Mellor – the Health Ombudsman – said “This is a very sad example of what can go wrong when doctors and trusts don’t carry out the necessary and proper diagnoses and tests, and the terrible impact it can have on someone’s life.”

Samantha Jones – The West Hertfordshire NHS Trust´s Chief Executive – commented “We clearly failed Ms G and I have offered her my personal and sincerest apologies.” She added that the NHS Trust had already implemented the changes recommended in the report and had enhanced the training of consultants who deal with cancer-related referrals.

Only last year the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust admitted failing to follow NHS guidelines for monitoring patients referred to them for cancer consultations. Since November 2010, the NHS Trust had failed to organise second appointments for patients who failed to attend their initial consultation – as is required under the NHS guidelines – and discharged them in order to remove patients from their books.

Widow Resolves Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Bowel Cancer

Posted on: June 3rd, 2014 by Medical Negligence

A widow is to receive £50.000 in compensation for the death of her husband after her claim for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer was resolved at a court hearing.

Christopher Goodhead from Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire died in 2009 aged 41, four years after his GP had misdiagnosed his bowel cancer as piles. It was two years later that his condition was correctly diagnosed, by which time the cancer was terminal and nothing could be done to save Christopher´s life.

Christopher´s widow – Melissa Cutting – made a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer against the GP who had misdiagnosed her husband´s condition – Dr Asim Islam of the Stanstead Surgery in Essex – alleging that a correct diagnosis in 2005 would have enabled Christopher to receive treatment that would have saved his life.

Dr Islam contested the claim, arguing that Christopher would have died “on exactly the same day or not significantly later” had he been referred for specialist treatment on the date of his first consultation. However, Melissa´s legal representatives claimed that Christopher´s exceptional fitness would have given him a good chance of survival had the cancer been identified years earlier.

The claim for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer went to the Royal Courts of Justice, where it was heard by Mrs Justice Patterson. After hearing evidence from medical experts representing both parties, the judge ruled that Dr Islam´s failure to diagnose Christopher correctly had cut short his life, but found that he would have died from the cancer regardless of when it was diagnosed.

Stating that Dr Islam´s sub-standard care had deprived Christopher of four more months of life, Mrs Justice Patterson awarded Melissa £50,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of bowel cancer.