Archive for June 2014

Settlement of Compensation for Ambulance Delay Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for an ambulance delay that resulted in a former genetic scientist sustaining brain damage has been approved at the High Court.

In October 2007, Caren Paterson collapsed in the bedroom of her Islington flat in North London and an ambulance was called by her boyfriend. Despite being informed that Caren was unconscious, breathing abnormally and that her lips had turned blue, the ambulance that was dispatched to her flat waited for 100 minutes along the road, as Caren´s address had been flagged as being in an area of high risk and paramedics were told to wait for police to arrive.

Five minutes before police arrived to escort paramedics into Caren´s flat, she went into cardiac arrest and sustained permanent brain damage which has now left her with chronic amnesia, confusion and disorientation. Caren requires around-the-clock care and will never be able to return to her job as a genetic scientist at Kings College.

Due to Caren being unable to represent herself, an injury claim for compensation for the ambulance delay was made on her behalf by her mother – Eleanor Paterson from Warkworth in Northumberland – who claimed in her action against the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust that, if it had not been for their negligence in mistakenly flagging Caren´s flat as high risk, Caren would not have sustained permanent brain damage.

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust admitted liability for Caren´s brain injury, and a package of compensation for the ambulance delay was negotiated which consists of a £1.4 million lump sum payment to be paid immediately and index-linked payments every year thereafter. The settlement is worth approximately £5 million pounds and should allow Caren to move from her specialist care unit into her own home, where she will be cared for by trained brain injury nurses.

At the High Court, Judge Richard Parkes and Caren´s mother heard an apology read out in court by the barrister representing the London Ambulance NHS Trust, after which Judge Parkes approved the settlement of compensation – paying tribute to the care that Eleanor Paterson had provided for her daughter since the tragic circumstances of her injury six years ago.

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Second Interim Settlement for Claim against a Consultant Obstetrician Approved in Court

A judge at the High Court in Dublin has approved a second interim settlement for a claim against a consultant obstetrician in favour of an eight-year-old boy.

Luke Miggin was born at the Mullingar General Hospital on 26th February 2006 in a poor condition due to consultant obstetrician Michael Gannon failing to act on CTG traces taken throughout the day that indicated a deceleration of the foetal heart rate.

Luke´s delivery was delayed several hours longer than it should have been under normal circumstances and, when he was born, he needed to be resuscitated before being transferred to the hospital´s special care baby unit.

Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Luke now suffers from cerebral palsy, is unable to walk and requires around-the-clock attention. Through his mother – Emily Miggin of Athboy, County Meath – Luke made a compensation claim against the consultant obstetrician and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In 2010, Dr Gannon and the HSE admitted liability for Luke´s birth injuries and, the following year, a €1.35 million interim settlement of Luke´s compensation claim against a consultant obstetrician was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke.

The case was then adjourned for three years to allow time for a periodic payment system to be introduced, but as legislation has not yet been passed to allow for structured settlements, Emily Miggin returned to the High Court in Dublin to have a second interim settlement of €580,000 approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

Judge Irvine commended Emily for her patience and commented that ongoing litigation prevents families such as the Miggins from getting on with their lives. She apologised for her frustration at not being able to approve a structure settlement, and criticised successive Ministers of Justice for failing to deliver on their promises of a periodic payment system.

The judge then approved the €580,000 interim settlement of Luke´s claim against a consultant obstetrician and adjourned the case for a further three years, when a further assessment of Luke´s future needs will be conducted and the family will have to return to court once again.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Midwife Malpractice

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for midwife malpractice in favour of a seven-year-old boy who was born severely disabled after nurses failed to act on an abnormal heartbeat.

Toby Hart from Bedale in North Yorkshire was born at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton twenty-five minutes after an abnormal heartbeat reading was recorded. Due to the avoidable delay, Toby´s brain was starved of oxygen and he was born severely disabled – subsequently being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Toby needs around-the-clock care as he has learning difficulties and is registered blind; and, after trying to support their son with what means they had available, Toby´s parents – Michelle and Matthew Hart – claimed compensation for midwife malpractice against the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in order that Toby could get the care and support he needed.

Once the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust acknowledged that errors had been made at Toby´s birth, the Hart´s started to receive interim payments of compensation for midwife malpractice until a final settlement was negotiated and, at the High Court in London, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies was given detail of the compensation package – which consists of a £2 million lump sum, with annual index-linked payments approaching £500,000 thereafter.

At the High Court, the family also heard an apology read to them by a representative of the NHS Foundation Trust. The spokeswoman said that no amount of money can adequately compensate for the circumstances which resulted in Toby´s injury, but it was hoped that the settlement of compensation for midwife malpractice would give the family some financial security and provide for Toby’s needs now and in the future.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies approved the compensation package, adding “I know nothing can turn the clock back”.

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Claimant Allowed to Pursue Compensation for the Failure to Act on Scan Results

A High Court judge in Dublin has allowed a claimant to pursue compensation for the failure to act on scan results which resulted in the death of his wife.

Since 2001, Dolores Hewitt had been on a monitoring regime at Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan after making a full recovery from breast cancer. In February 2007, an ultrasound scan revealed two potentially cancerous lesions on Dolores´ liver, but no immediate action was taken.

Five months later, Dolores met up by chance with the consultant who had treated her for her breast cancer. The meeting led to further scans being conducted, that revealed further lesions on her liver, and Dolores started a new course of treatment. Unfortunately the treatment came too late to stop the cancer spreading and Dolores died in June 2010.

In January 2012, Dolores´ widowed husband – Joseph Hewitt from Navan in County Meath – claimed compensation for the failure to act on scan results against Our Lady´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE). In his legal action, Joseph alleged that Our Lady´s Hospital had been negligent by not responding to the early indicators of cancer when his wife had a relevant medical history.

The HSE contested the claim for compensation for the failure to act on scan results on the grounds that the alleged failure to act dated back to events in 2007, and therefore a claim made in 2012 was outside of the two years Statute of Limitations. The HSE applied for the case to be dismissed, but Joseph opposed the application and the case went before Ms Justice Marie Baker at the Dublin High Court.

At the hearing, Judge Baker said that the HSE was correct that Joseph was outside the Statute of Limitations to claim compensation for the failure to act on scan results in 2007 but – as the claim for compensation had been made within nineteen months of his wife´s death – Joseph was still entitled to claim compensation for her wrongful death, and the failure to act on the scan results was the causative event that led to Dolores´ death.

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Compensation for Deafness due to GP Negligence Approved in Court

The High Court in Dublin has approved a settlement of compensation for deafness due to GP negligence in favour of an eighteen-year-old woman.

On 29th January 1998, when Laura Kavanagh was just thirteen months of age, her mother telephoned the family GP – Dr Frank Malone of Greystones in County Wicklow – to say that Laura had become ill with a high temperature, was lethargic and had severe fatigue.

When Laura´s condition deteriorated, Laura´s mother rang the GP surgery again and spoke with Dr Malone´s partner – Dr Paul Crean. Dr Crean said he would make a house call after surgery and – 3½ hours later – he examined Laura and diagnosed a bowel infection.

The following day, Laura was no better and her mother requested another house call. She was told that it would be at least three hours before a doctor would be available and, when Laura later showed signs of improvement, her mother cancelled the house call.

However, Laura´s condition deteriorated once again the following day and – on 31st January 1998 – an on-call doctor visited the family´s home and immediately admitted Laura to hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe meningitis. Due to contracting the disease, and it being allowed to develop, Laura has lost her sense of hearing and has to communicate through sign language and lip reading.

Through her mother – Simone Kavanagh from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow – Laura claimed compensation for deafness due to GP negligence, alleging in her claim that there had been a failure to ensure proper care and continuity of care, and a failure to attend Laura in good time after her mother had rung the GP surgery.

The allegations were denied by the two GPs but after court proceedings were issued, a €5 million settlement of compensation for deafness due to GP negligence was negotiated. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Laura´s best interests.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard the sequence of events that led to Laura´s illness and the consequences of the misdiagnosis of meningitis. It was explained to the court that the €5 million settlement of compensation for deafness due to GP negligence was being made without an admission of liability.

Judge Irvine approved the settlement, commenting that money would never give Laura the life she was meant to have.

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Woman Awarded Compensation for Bowel Cancer Misdiagnosis

A Staffordshire woman is to £50,000 compensation for a bowel cancer misdiagnosis which resulted in the untimely death of her husband.

In 2009, Christopher Goodhead (41) from Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire died four years after his GP had diagnosed him with piles instead of identifying that he had bowel cancer. The correct diagnosis was not made until two years later; by which time Christopher´s cancer had spread and was terminal.

Christopher´s widow – Melissa Cutting – sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a bowel cancer misdiagnosis against Dr Asim Islam of the Stanstead Surgery in Essex – the GP who had misdiagnosed Christopher´s condition.

She alleged in her action that the correct diagnosis of bowel cancer in 2005 would have enabled her husband to receive treatment that would have saved his life.

Dr Islam denied negligence; contesting that Christopher would have died “on exactly the same day or not significantly later” even if he had been referred for specialist treatment after his first consultation.

However, Melissa argued that Christopher´s exceptional fitness would have given him a good chance of fighting the cancer had it been diagnosed years earlier.

The claim for compensation for a bowel cancer misdiagnosis went to the Royal Courts of Justice, where it was presented before Mrs Justice Patterson.

The judge heard medical experts give testimony on behalf of both parties, after which Mrs Justice Patterson found that Dr Islam´s misdiagnosis of bowel cancer had shortened Christopher´s life, but that it would have been fatal irrespective of when it was identified.

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

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