Archive for October 2014

Fatal Delay in Detecting Breast Cancer Criticised by Health Ombudsman

The Health Ombudsman has criticised St Albans Hospital in Hertfordshire for a fatal delay in detecting breast cancer in a forty-one year old patient.

The patient – identified only as “Mrs G” – went to the breast care unit at St Albans Hospital in May 2010 after being referred there by her GP. The consultant who attended her failed to do the appropriate tests and overlooked her cancer.

When she returned to the hospital in December 2011, biopsies revealed that the breast cancer had advanced to such a stage that it was inoperable, and secondary cancers had developed in her brain and liver. The single mother of one was forced to give up her job because of her illness – adding considerable financial pressure to the stress she was experiencing about how long she had left to live.

An investigation into the fatal delay in detecting breast cancer was conducted by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who concluded that “Mrs G” was let down by the hospital and that her life had been cut short by the hospital´s “serious failings”. The Ombudsman reported that the patient could have made a full recovery if the cancer had been detected at the time of the initial referral.

Last year the West Hertfordshire Hospital Trust – the NHS Trust responsible for St Albans Hospital – admitted that it had failed to follow NHS guidelines for monitoring patients referred to them since November 2010 and had discharged patients who had failed to attend their initial cancer consultation instead of organising second appointments as it was required to do under NHS rules.

The Ombudsman´s report called for the NHS trust to make a “full and sincere apology” and to put mechanisms in place to ensure that the same mistake cannot happen again. The West Hertfordshire NHS Trust has already paid “Mrs G” £70,000 compensation for the fatal delay in detecting breast cancer and acknowledged that it had clearly failed.

Speaking after the release of the report, Ombudsman Julie Mellor 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.” In response, the NHS Trust´s Chief Executive Samantha Jones said “We clearly failed Ms G and I have offered her my personal and sincerest apologies.”

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Young Boy´s Claim for Renal Injury Compensation Settled for £4.8 Million

A young boy´s claim for renal injury compensation has been settled at the High Court in London after Judge Richard Parkes approved a settlement of £4.8 million.

Lucas Tupenny – formerly living in Ruislip, Middlesex – was born in January 2004 at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital in Kensington suffering from a bowel defect. Lucas underwent a colostomy procedure but, due to the negligence of the hospital staff, he suffered a septic shock and his kidneys failed.

Lucas underwent dialysis treatment when he was six months old and, at the age of one year, had a kidney transplant operation – the kidney coming from his father Brock. At the age of ten, Lucas has undergone 28 operations and spent 149 days as a hospital inpatient. His doctors say that he will need a further kidney transplant in the future.

Lucas´ mother – Therese – made a claim for renal injury compensation on behalf of her son against the hospital. In 2012, the hospital admitted liability for Lucas´ injuries and apologised unreservedly. Settlement of the claim for renal injury compensation was delayed until a study of Lucas´ future needs was completed and, earlier this year, a figure of £4.8 million was negotiated.

At the High Court in London, Judge Richard Parkes was shown a video illustrating the challenges that Lucas and his mother had overcome due to his condition. Judge Parkes told Therese that she had shown extraordinary devotion to her son throughout some difficult years and asked Lucas how he was feeling now. Lucas replied “Good, your Lordship”.

Therese explained that “we absolutely think the amount is fair. Lucas has a chronic medical condition and he will need treatment for all his life”. The judge was also told that Lucas now lives with his mother in Seattle, his parents having divorced. Judge Parkes approved the settlement of compensation for a renal injury and wished the family well.

Speaking after the claim for renal injury compensation had been resolved, a spokesperson for the Bupa Cromwell Hospital commented that the company did not own the hospital at the time that Lucas was born. He said that Bupa inherited the liability for the case, and that the claim for renal injury compensation had been handled by the previous owner´s insurance company.

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Judge Approves Compensation for Brain Damage at Birth due to Contraceptive Device

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth due to a contraceptive device being fitted during his mother´s pregnancy.

Cian Bowen was born to Tracy Ann Hughes and Stephen Bowen in July 2007, but eleven weeks prematurely and having sustained brain damage during the later stages of his mother´s labour. Cian was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and, although his intellect is intact, needs constant supervision.

An investigation in to Cian´s premature birth discovered that Tracy had been fitted with an intrauterine device (IUD) fourteen weeks into her pregnancy. At the time Tracy was unaware that she was pregnant but, at twenty-seven weeks, she started bleeding heavily and was taken to hospital.

As it was too late for a termination, the pregnancy was continued until Cian was delivered at twenty-nine weeks. Tracy´s doctors subsequently informed her that, had the pregnancy completed its full term, it was unlikely that Cian would have suffered any brain damage at all.

On behalf of their son, Tracy and Stephen made a claim for compensation for the brain damage at birth due to the contraceptive device being fitted during Tracy´s pregnancy. Her GP against whom the claim was made – Dr Helen Clare Jenkins – denied that her actions were liable for Cian´s injuries and she sought legal advice from the Medical Defence Union (MDU).

After a period of negotiation, it was agreed that the MDU would settle the claim against Dr Jenkins for £2.25 million – £2.05 million going to Cian in compensation for brain damage at birth due to a contraceptive device, and £200,000 being paid to Tracy for the pain and suffering she had experienced.

The offer of compensation was made without an admission of liability and was subject to approval by a judge. Consequently, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Spencer was told the circumstances of Cian´s birth and the challenges faced by Cian and his family.

Describing Cian as a “delightful little boy”, Judge Spencer approved the settlement – stating that it was a good one in the circumstances as it may have been hard to prove that the presence of the IUD was causative of Tracy´s early labour and Cian´s premature birth had the case gone to court.

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Woman Awarded Compensation for Eyesight Damaged by Laser Eye Surgery

A woman from Gosport in Hampshire has been awarded £567,287 compensation for having her eyesight damaged by laser eye surgery after a hearing at the Central London County Court.

Stephanie Holloway (28) brought her claim for compensation against Optical Express and eye surgeon Dr Joanna McGraw after undergoing eye surgery in September 2008. Stephanie had hoped that the eye surgery would improve her short-sightedness and to give her an opportunity of fulfilling a life-long dream of joining the police force.

Unfortunately the surgery left Stephanie with photophobia – an intolerance of bright lights – which means that Stephanie has to permanently wear sunglasses and live in an environment lit only by candles. Stephanie also developed depression and a fear of going blind after the failed operation and despite consultations with optical experts – and one further painful surgery – her condition has not improved.

Stephanie alleged in her claim for compensation for having her eyesight damaged by laser eye surgery that she had not been advised of the potential risks of the operation – an allegation denied by Optical Express and Dr McGraw, who insisted in court that she had advised Stephanie hers was a very difficult case which could have a very bad result.

However, at the Central London County Court, Judge Edward Bailey heard that Dr McGraw´s initial consultation with Stephanie had lasted just three to four minutes, and that Stephanie had been presented with a consent form just seven minutes before the operation to correct her vision commenced.

The judge ruled that Stephanie had not been given sufficient information about the risks of surgery in order to give informed consent, and said that giving a patient a consent form to sign seven minutes before surgery “is not how things should be done”.

The judge added that the lack of information Stephanie received was a material breach in Optical Express´s duty of care and went against the Royal College of Ophthalmologist´s guidelines that a patient should be presented with a consent form at least twenty-four hours prior to surgery.

Judge Bailey awarded Stephanie £569,287 compensation for having her eyesight damaged by laser eye surgery – which included more than £400,000 for Stephanie´s loss of earnings after her book dealing business collapsed due to her inability to read anything other than large print.

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