Archive for February 2011

Birth Injury Jessica Awarded 400,000 Pounds in Compensation

The family of Jessica Taylor, 6, who suffers from Erb’s Palsy due to a mismanaged delivery, expressed their relief and gratitude after a compensation settlement of 400,000 pounds was approved in the High Court.

Concerns were raised by Jessica’s parents during mother Christine’s pregnancy that the birth might be complicated due to baby Jessica’s size. However, in August 2004, staff at Kings College Hospital, South London, proceeded with a normal delivery procedure under the impression that 11.4lb Jessica was of average size.

In the claim for medical negligence against the hospital, it was alleged that staff should have realised Christine’s prolonged second stage of labour indicated an obstruction (Jessica’s size), and that a normal delivery would result in complications.

Christine’s request for a Caesarean section was ignored and during the delivery Jessica’s should got trapped, leading to further complications. After the birth, Jessica was immediately taken to a special care baby unit where she was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy.

Erb’s Palsy is a condition which affects the movement of the arm, and Jessica will always need assistance with day-to-day tasks such as dressing, despite intense therapy, specialist equipment and rehabilitation.

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability and in a statement wished Jessica and her family the best for the future.

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Five Figure Compensation for Stillborn Birth Error

Parents of a stillborn child have received an undisclosed out-of-court five figure compensation payment and an apology from the Worcestershire Royal Hospital following the stillbirth of their son in October, 2009.

Katie Page of Droitwich, Worcestershire, was identified as having a “high risk” pregnancy due to a family medical history of thrombosis, and herself suffering from Factor V Leiden thrombophilia. However, her pregnancy had progressed normally and was only 10 days overdue when she experienced mild contractions during the night and noticed a subsequent reduction in her baby’s movements.

On telephoning the Day Assessment Unit (DAU) at the hospital, she was told to drink ice cold water and contact them in a few hours if she was still concerned. During that afternoon, Katie experienced further contractions and telephoned the hospital again to tell them that she had not felt her baby move for several hours. She was advised not to attend the hospital, but to call back later with an update.

Shortly after midnight on October 7, 2009, Robert Page telephoned the hospital to let them know that his wife was not coping with the pain and requested to come into hospital. At 2.00am, Katie was assessed by a midwife rather than an obstetrician, who listened to the foetal heart and performed a vaginal examination but not a CT scan trace. Katie was sent home again even though an induction had been originally booked for the previous day.

At 9.00am Katie telephoned the DAU again to ask about the inducement of her baby, but was told that no beds were available. Further calls throughout the day proved fruitless and, at 7.00pm, Katie attended the antenatal ward at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital requesting admission. It was not until 9.45pm that she was eventually admitted onto a labour ward.

Further delays occurred in assessing Katie’s condition, and it was not until 11.15pm that a midwife attempted to check the foetal heart rate. When the heart beat could not be found, an obstetric registrar was summoned and ultrasound scans performed which confirmed that Katie and Robert’s son – Harry – had died. Katie was induced the following morning and had to endure a prolonged labour to deliver her stillborn son, some ten hours after his death had already been confirmed.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust accepted liability.

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FDA Updates Warning for Metal on Metal Hip Devices

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the United States agency responsible for the regulation of medical products – has issued an update to its warning for patients implanted with metal on metal hip devices.

Although primarily focusing on issues known to exist with the recalled DePuy hip replacement systems, the FDA has identified all metal on metal hip devices as having similar risks due to microscopic metallic particles released into the blood stream when friction occurs between the metal ball and cup of the implant.

In addition to the friction wearing down the metal on metal hip devices – necessitating the requirement for revision surgery when the hip replacement system becomes loose or starts to cause pain – the FDA has advised on “adverse reactions to metal debris” which manifest when particles of chromium and cobalt cause symptoms or illnesses in other parts of the body.

These symptoms and illnesses can relate to the heart, nervous system, thyroid gland or the bone and/or tissue surrounding the metal on metal hip device. It has already been established that tissue necrosis can lead to more complicated revision surgery with an extended rehabilitation period when further hip replacement surgery is required, and due to this possibility, the FDA have recommended that recipients of metal on metal hip devices pay close attention to their general health, with particular focus on any changes in the following areas:-

  • The heart (chest pains or shortage of breath)
  • The nerves (numbness, weakness and changes in vision or hearing)
  • The thyroid (fatigue, feeling cold and weight gain)
  • The kidneys (a change in urination habits)

The FDA has advised that people will react to the presence of metal particles in the blood in different ways and has recommended that if recipients of metal on metal hip devices experience any changes in their health which are not directly related to their replacement hip system they should consult a doctor at the first possible opportunity.

Although it will be necessary for an orthopaedic surgeon to confirm that irregularities in the blood are directly attributable to metal particles released from metal on metal hip devices, the FDA has recommended several tests to evaluate the symptoms including:-

  • Special imaging tests (MRIs, Cat Scans and X-rays)
  • Blood tests (to determine the volume of metal ions in the blood)
  • Joint aspiration (where a needle removes fluid from around the hip replacement system for analysis)

In the UK, similar recommendations have been in place for almost a year. In April 2010 – four months prior to the worldwide DePuy hip replacement recall – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a medical device alert which highlighted concerns with metal on metal hip devices and recommended that recipients of all such hip replacement systems should have annual check-ups for a period of five years to determine whether metallic ions had entered the blood stream.

For those who have suffered an adverse reaction or injury due to a faulty metal on metal hip device, the possibility exists to make a personal injury compensation claim on the grounds of product liability. However, in much the same way as the FDA acknowledges that people will suffer different reactions to the presence of metal particles in the blood; people in dissimilar situations will be entitled to varying amounts of failed metal on metal hip device compensation depending on their personal circumstances.

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