UK Medical Negligence Claims

Patient Compensated for Surgical Injury

Posted on: September 8th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

A woman, who sustained a severe jaw dislocation whilst undergoing surgery, has been awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation.

In December 2010, Amanda Walker (forty-eight from Knaresborough in North Yorkshire) tragically discovered that she had miscarried twins. As such, she needed to undergo an operation at the  Harrogate District Hospital to remove the miscarried foetuses. Upon awaking after the operation, Amanda discovered that she was experiencing extreme pain in her face and was unable to move her jaw.

The hospital attributed the pain to a condition with which Amanda had been diagnosed ten years earlier.  To investigate the pain, Amanda visited her dentist to investigate this diagnosis, who discovered that her jaw had been misaligned and that she had sustained severe tissue damage. A MRI scan showed that the extent of Amanda’s jaw injury was comparable with those seen in car crash victims. Amanda has been unable to return to her job in marketing because of the pain caused by the dislocation.

To correct that damage, a further four surgeries were required – including one that inserted an implant. The Harrogate District Hospital maintained that they were not at fault for the damage, though Amanda still chose to consult a solicitor. The solicitor, carried out an investigation which concluded that the way in which the surgical mask was applied to Amanda caused her injury, and not the pre-existing condition.

Amanda proceeded to make a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust. The trust contested the claim until very recently, but when they did admit that they were at fault, a six-figure settlement of compensation was awarded.

Dr David Scullion, the Medical Director of the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, commented that “The Trust is pleased an agreement has been reached. We have apologised to Ms Walker for the impact this injury has had on her. We conducted an investigation into Ms Walker’s care with us in 2010 and want to give assurance that we have learned all we can from this incident.”

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.”

Patient Awarded Compensation after Protracted Medical Negligence Negotiations

Posted on: January 9th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

A woman, who developed deep vein thrombosis after she failed to receive adequate medical care following a hysterectomy, has been awarded an undisclosed compensation settlement.

Tina Grace, aged forty-four from Nottinghamshire, underwent the hysterectomy procedure on the 13th August 2012 at the King’s Mill Hospital. The operation was initially declared a success and Ms Grace was discharged after just five days, even though her parents were protesting that she would not be fully able to care for her two children, then aged two and thirteen.

Yet three weeks after the operation had been carried out, Ms Grace was still suffering from bouts of dizziness and pain in her leg. An ambulance was called to her home, and she was brought back to the King’s Mill Hospital. After she was readmitted, Ms Grace was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. However, a blood clot that had initially developed in her leg had broken up, travelling to her lungs via her circulatory system and there caused a pulmonary embolism.

Ms Grace remained in hospital for a further eleven days, and was then prescribed the blood-thinning Warfarin for another six months. As she recovered, Ms Grace proceeded to make a claim for compensation against the hospital for post-hysterectomy medical negligence. In the claim, she alleged that she should have been provided with anti-clotting medication and medical stockings after her initial discharge.

A few months later, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who oversee proceedings at the King’s Mill Hospital, admitted liability for Ms Grace’s condition, acknowledging that, if she had been provided with the correct equipment before her first discharge, she probably would not have developed the condition.

Negotiations ensued, and finally ended with an undisclosed settlement made to Ms Grace for her post-hysterectomy medical negligence. After this announcement, Ms Grace told a newspaper of her fears that her children would be left without their mother: “I really felt like I could have died. I was terrified and it felt like every breath I took would be my last.”

Claim Lodged by Couple for Stillbirth at Hospital

Posted on: June 27th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

A couple, whose second child was stillborn at the Warrington Hospital, have made a compensation claim against the hospital.

When Angela Owens, aged thirty, and her partner Paul Humphreys, thirty-one, were out shopping on the 21st December 2014, Ms Owens experienced a sudden pain. She was nearly two weeks overdue with her second child, and due to be medically induced the following day.. The couple, from Chapelford in Warrington, rang Warrington Hospital, who told them to go to the labour ward at the hospital immediately.
Upon arriving at the hospital, a midwife examined Ms Owens, who explained that she was unsettled as the pain she felt was not like that experienced during her previous labour. During the examination, the midwife saw that Ms Owens was only dilated by two centimeters, and as such sent her home with instructions to take paracetamol.
However, Ms Owens refused to go home, and was admitted into a room where she asked for pain relief. An attending nurse said that it was too early to administer gas and air, but suggested a birthing pool. Ms Owens entered the pool, but the pain she was experiencing intensified and she asked to get out. She also asked for another check on her unborn child.
Though the foetal heartbeat had been recorded when Ms Owens entered the hospital, no other checks had been carried out since – a breach of nation guidelines. Upon exiting the pool, another check was done, but no heartbeat could be detected either by ultrasound or manual means. Their daughter, Ella, was delivered just after eleven o’clock that night, stillborn.

Ms Owens and Mr Humphreys allege that, had the medical staff on the ward acted on Ms Owens’ complaints, or carried out the monitoring procedure as they were supposed to, their daughter may not have been stillborn. Yet the couple are entirely reliant on the results of an internal investigation being conducted at the hospital, as inquests are not conducted into stillborn deaths.

The couple were dissatisfied with the results of the investigation, and have since made a claim for the stillborn birth against the hospital. They hope that this will assist their search for answers.

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.