Archive for January 2015

Solicitors Asked to Investigate Woman´s Late Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer

Solicitors have been asked to investigate a woman´s late diagnosis of cervical cancer which, her family claim, should have been identified sooner.

Rachel Harrison from Hexham in Northumberland died on 30th June 2012 aged 31 – less than three years after being diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. Before she died, Rachel requested her screening history which, according to her husband Peter, revealed missed opportunities to diagnose pre-cancerous cells.

The screening history revealed that Rachel had her first smear test at the age of nineteen. The test was reported as inadequate and Rachel was advised to have an early repeat test. This she did in 2001, which was reported as abnormal, but another test the following year was reported as normal. The age for cervical screening was then moved to 25, and Rachel did not have another smear test until 2007.

The test in 2007 was difficult and concerns were raised about it. However, it was reported as being normal and the opportunity was missed to advise Rachel to have more frequent test in view of her medical history. It was not until Rachel started to experience abnormal bleeding in 2009 that she was referred to a gynaecologist, who advised her to urgently begin chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for advanced cervical cancer.

Initially the treatment appeared to be successful but, in October 2011, tests revealed that the cancer had spread to Rachel´s bowel and showed signs of developing in her lungs and liver. Rachel underwent more intensive chemotherapy, but her immune system weakened and, on 30th June 2012, she died in Hexham Hospital after contracting a chest infection.

Believing that her condition should have been identified sooner, Rachel´s husband and mother have asked solicitors to investigate the late diagnosis of cervical cancer. They believe that failings in the screening process were responsible for the development of the cancer and it ultimately being untreatable.

Read More

Compensation Claim against Kings College Hospital Resolved with £10.1M Settlement

A compensation claim against Kings College Hospital made on behalf of a girl who was starved of oxygen at birth has been resolved at the High Court in London.

Eva Totham from South-East London was born at the Kings College Hospital in October 2007 after having been starved of oxygen in the womb. As a result of the medical staff´s negligence, Eva (now seven years of age) suffers from cerebral palsy which affects all four of her limbs and is unable to speak.

Although able to attend a mainstream school with one-to-one support, Eva suffers from dramatic moods swings brought about by her frustration at not being able to communicate. These mood swings affect her learning and have a disruptive influence on family life.

Eva´s parents made a compensation claim against the Kings College Hospital NHS Trust who, after an investigation into the events of Eva´s birth, acknowledged a failing in the established standard of care prior to Eva´s delivery.

However, the NHS Trust disputed how much compensation was being claimed by the family for Eva´s pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of her life in the future. The NHS Trust set a cap of £8.7 million and the compensation claim against Kings College Hospital proceeded to the High Court.

At the hearing, Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing was shown a DVD of a day in Eva´s life. She also heard how Eva´s parents – Sarah and Dean – were successful professionals and it was highly likely that Eva would have gone to university and followed a professional career.

In court Eva was described as a beautiful, engaging child; and Judge Laing agreed with this appraisal – writing in her ruling that “I had a strong sense of an energetic, inquisitive mind trapped in a body that will not do what Eva would wish it could do.”

The judge awarded Eva £10.1 million in settlement of her compensation claim against Kings College Hospital, which will cover the costs of her past and future care and compensate Eva for her future loss of earnings.

Read More

Couple Claim Compensation for the Failure to Identify Foetal Distress

A couple from Essex have made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify foetal distress which led to the death of their son after his delivery.

Ami Solomons Hodges (31) from Great Wakering in Essex was admitted to Southend Hospital on 28th March 2014 after Ami had suffered “a spontaneous rupture of membranes”. Her baby Frankie was delivered by Caesarean Section the following evening, but was declared dead forty-seven minutes later after medical staff had been unable to resuscitate him.

An inquest into baby Frankie´s death recorded a verdict of perinatal asphyxia due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck and starving him of oxygen. The coroner at the inquest commented that “a more timely intervention would have probably resulted in a better outcome” and that Frankie´s death was contributed to by neglect.

An internal investigation conducted by Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust concluded that, although Frankie´s heart rate was monitored, staff failed to identify foetal distress and bring his delivery forward accordingly. It was also noted that a shift handover could have been a contributory factor in Frankie´s death.

Ami and her partner Russell Lee have now instructed solicitors to claim compensation for the failure to identify foetal distress. Ami said: I have always believed that had medical staff listened to my concerns and monitored Frankie’s condition more closely, Frankie would have been delivered sooner than he was and he would be still with us today.”

The medical director for the NHS Trust – Neil Rothnie – issued a statement in which he extended his condolences to Ami and Russell and said that “positive changes” including enhanced heart monitoring training had been implemented since Frankie´s death. He said: “We appreciate the inquest was very difficult for Frankie’s family and we would like to assure them that lessons have been learnt from this very tragic case.”

Read More

Barrister Awarded Compensation for a Negligently Performed Appendectomy

A barrister has been awarded £2 million compensation for a negligently performed appendectomy after a hearing into the value of his claim at the High Court.

In May 2010, Gerwyn Samuel (51) – a barrister who specialises in medical negligence claims – underwent an appendectomy at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North-West London. On waking from the surgery, Gerwyn found he was paralysed and called out to staff for fifteen minutes “in extreme distress and fear” before medical staff heard his cries for help.

Gerwyn´s movement returned to him later in the day, but then his surgical wound burst open and he had to undergo further surgery to remove a blood clot. He continued to experience pain after his discharge and developed an abdominal bulge – subsequently being admitted to a private hospital for a high dose of antibiotics.

Gerwyn claimed compensation for a negligently performed appendectomy against the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, alleging that he had suffered unnecessary pain due to the failings of the hospital´s surgical team and – because of continuing issues with his abdomen – he will have to retire up to ten years earlier than planned, thus suffering a loss of income.

The Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust acknowledged that errors had been made during Gerwyn´s appendectomy, but disputed the £2 million compensation for a negligently performed appendectomy that was being claimed. The claim went to the High Court in London for the assessment of damages, where it was heard before Mr Justice John Mitting.

At the hearing, Judge Mitting heard that Gerwyn was a “workaholic” who would have reasonably been expected to continue developing his practise had it not been for his injuries. After hearing expert witnesses confirm that the barrister will now have to retire at 55 years of age, Judge Mitting agreed that a £2 million settlement was an appropriate amount of compensation for a negligently performed appendectomy in his case.

Read More

Woman Makes Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Cancer due to GP Negligence

A woman who was told she needed to see a psychiatrist to resolve her anxiety issues has made a claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer due to GP negligence.

In September 2013, Kim Major (48) from Ewell in Surrey tried to make an appointment to see her GP as she was suffering from recurring headaches, coughing, chest pain and neck pain. Instead she was given an appointment to see the Practice Nurse at Fitznells Manor Surgery, who told Kim that she likely had a virus.

Kim´s symptoms persisted and, in early 2014, she was advised by her optician to go back to GP for a full health check as her eyesight was deteriorating. Kim made an appointment, but no investigations were conducted, after which she developed abdominal pain – for which she attended her GP again in March when she was told to seek help for her anxiety issues.

Following a further visit to her GP in June, Kim underwent a colonoscopy procedure which revealed nothing. A written referral to Kim´s GP from her optician due to Kim´s increased frequency of dizzy spells failed to prompt an investigation into her symptoms and it was only when Kim was rushed to hospital in September with chest pains that an x-ray was taken.

The x-ray revealed that there was a substantial mass on her right lung, and Kim was referred to a respiratory specialist – who told her that she was suffering from lung cancer. Doctors have subsequently found two tumours on Kim´s brain and two more on Kim´s liver, and she is undergoing intense chemotherapy treatment not knowing how long she may have to live.

After seeking legal advice, Kim made a claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer due to GP negligence. In her claim it is alleged that if her concerns had been taken seriously by her GP, the lung cancer could have been detected and treated at an earlier stage and would not have spread to her brain and liver.

After news of the claim for the misdiagnosis of cancer due to GP negligence became public, Kim said “My family and I are completely traumatized and I feel wholly let down by the NHS. I visited my GP on so many occasions complaining of various symptoms but I was told so many different things and it took them collectively over a year to diagnose my condition.”

A spokesman for Fitznells Manor Surgery said: “The surgery was saddened to hear of this case and our thoughts go to the family. Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment further.” An NHS England Surrey and Sussex spokesperson said that it would be inappropriate to comment due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Read More

Boy Suffers Brain Damage due to Failure to Treat Jaundice

The family of a boy, who suffered brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice, is launching legal action against the hospital in which he was born.

On April 15th 2013, Laura-Faye Gold from Honiton in Devon gave birth to a son – Khan – at the Exeter Hospital. Khan was a perfectly healthy baby although, not uncommonly, he was born suffering from jaundice.

Khan and his mother were allowed home the following day and during the next four days three different midwives visited the family home in Honiton, Devon to check on baby Khan´s progress. Laura-Faye raised concerns about her son´s jaundice, but on each occasion was told it was nothing to worry about.

However, on April 20th 2013, Laura-Faye had problems feeding Khan and noticed that her son was arching his back as if in pain. She called her local hospital, which took a blood sample and advised Khan´s parents to take him back to Exeter Hospital to have the sample analysed.

Khan was diagnosed with kernicterus – a condition caused by the underdeveloped liver failing to remove bilirubin from the bloodstream – and transferred to intensive care. Khan was given an immediate blood transfusion, but the bilirubin that his liver had failed to remove from his blood stream had entered his brain and he suffered brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice.

Due to the failure to identify Khan´s illness when Laura-Faye first raised concerns about his jaundice, 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 support and care throughout the rest of his life, his parents have made a compensation claim for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, on the grounds that the only advice they were given by midwives prior to Khan´s admission to hospital was to expose him to the sun.

In their claim for compensation for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice, Khan´s parents allege that midwives failed to follow NHS guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice. They also believe that the visiting midwives should have escalated the situation in a timely way to the family´s GP or Exeter Hospital´s paediatrician.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – Angela Pedder – has written to the family apologising for the failures which led to Khan suffering brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice. Since Khan´s tragic condition was identified, key changes have been made at the hospital which include that all babies born with jaundice are now tested for kernicterus.

Solicitors representing the Gold family have also suggested that there were training issues at the hospital which need to be addressed, and have entered into negotiations with the NHS Trust to resolve the family´s claim for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice. The final settlement is estimated to be in seven figures.

Read More