Archive for February 2015

Court Approves £10 Million Compensation for Birth Injuries to Seven-Year-Old Girl

The High Court in London has approved a packaged settlement of compensation for birth injuries – with an estimated value of £10 million – in favour of an eight-year-old girl.

Ayla Ellison was born at the Furness General Hospital in Cumbria in April 2007 after having been starved of oxygen in the womb. During her emergency delivery, Ayla suffered further injuries due to medical negligence including a severe haemorrhage in the womb.

Now seven years of age, Ayla has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy and has to be fed by a tube because she is effectively blind. Ayla´s body is incapable of controlling its body temperature, and she suffers muscle spasms that leave her in intense pain that can only be alleviated by immersion in a hydrotherapy pool.

On Ayla´s behalf, her father – Daniel – made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust who, in 2012, acknowledged the mismanagement of Ayla´s delivery. Talks commenced about how much compensation for birth injuries Ayla was entitled to and, when an agreement was reached, the case went to the High Court in London for the settlement to be approved.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Warby heard an apology read to the family from the medical director of the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust – David Walker. Mr Walker said that the Trust was sorry for the harm caused to Ayla and the distress caused to her family as a result of issues arising from her birth.

The judge also heard that the family was moving to London for Daniel Ellison´s job as a consultant engineer, and that part of the settlement included £1.7 million for the family to buy a home with a hydrotherapy pool in Richmond. The judge said “I have no hesitation in accepting that the stated intention of Carla and Daniel Elliston to move to London to build a new family life there is a sincere, genuine and heartfelt one.”

Mr Justice Warby was told that the remainder of the settlement included an immediate lump sum payment of £295,000 and annual tax-free, index-linked payments of £225,000 – rising to £290,000 when Ayla turns eighteen. The judge approved the settlement – estimated to have a total value of £10 million – commending Daniel and Carla Ellison for the “calm and intelligent” way in which they had dealt with the tragedy.

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Interim Settlement of Cerebral Palsy Claim against Kerry Hospital Approved in Court

An interim settlement of a cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital has been approved at the Dublin High Court in favour of a three year old girl.

On 22nd April 2011, Skye Worthington was born at the Kerry General Hospital in a distressed state after her mother – Colleen – had been administered the drug Syntocinon to accelerate her labour. Although the artificial drug had speeded up Colleen´s contractions, the administration of the drug had resulted in Skye suffering hypoxia in the womb.

Due to a lack of oxygen in the womb, Skye was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after she was born. Skye has difficulty sitting up, has to be fed through a tube, and can only communicate by using her eyes. An investigation into how Skye´s birth was managed revealed that if she had been born just fifteen minutes sooner, she would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

On her daughter´s behalf, Colleen Worthington from Castlegregory in County Kerry made a cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital and the Health Service Executive. The Health Service Executive acknowledged the errors that had been made in the management of Skye´s birth and an interim settlement of €2.32 million compensation was negotiated.

As the interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Skye´s best interests. Therefore, at the Dublin High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was made aware of the circumstances of Skye´s birth and the consequences of her injury.

At the hearing, Skye´s parents were also read a statement in which Kerry General Hospital and the Health Service Executive apologised unreservedly for the errors in the management of Skye´s birth. The apology added that lessons had been learned from the investigation into Skye´s birth which her parents had participated in and which had helped clarify a number of important issues.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross explained to Skye´s parents that the interim settlement of the claim for cerebral palsy against Kerry Hospital was a temporary settlement to allow an assessment to be conducted over the next three years for Skye´s future needs. Once the assessment is completed, the family will have the option of annual periodic payments – subject to legislation being passed – or be able to take a lump sum payment in final settlement of the cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital.

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London Hospital Found at Fault for Avoidable Death due to Medical Negligence

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has found the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust at fault for an avoidable death due to medical negligence.        

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman was asked to investigate the death of a 62-year-old woman at Imperial College Hospital in West London, after the unnamed patient had been discharged prematurely without the expected range of tests being conducted.

The Ombudsman found that mistakes were made in assessing the woman´s condition on her initial visit to the hospital. “Avoidable” errors were identified in her diagnosis and treatment and the patient was discharged despite the tests that were conducted showing inconclusive results.

The woman subsequently returned to the Imperial College Hospital on several occasions, complaining of abdominal pain and blood in her urine. Eventually she was admitted for an exploratory operation, but she died from blood poisoning due to sepsis before surgery could take place.

The Ombudsman was critical of the woman´s avoidable death due to medical negligence, and noted that there was a failure to treat the patient with antibiotics or to control the clotting of her blood before surgery. The investigation into the avoidable death due to medical negligence also found that the hospital´s complaints handling procedure was poor.

Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “Our investigation found that because of a series of errors at a hospital a woman lost her life. Her husband told us that he has lost his best friend just before he and his wife were due to start a new life together. We hope our investigation and the action taken by the trust will reassure him that lessons have been learnt as a result of his complaint so that others are less likely to suffer the same experience.”

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Family Claim Compensation for the Failure to Treat a Strangulated Hernia

The family of a man who died in hospital are claiming compensation for the failure to treat a strangulated hernia following a coroner´s verdict into his death.

Vincent McKeown (80) from Bennetthorpe in South Yorkshire attended the Doncaster Royal Infirmary three times in the space of four days in April 2014, complaining of stomach pain and vomiting. On the second of his two visits, Vincent underwent x-rays and had a blood test but was discharged with antibiotics after having been diagnosed with a chest infection.

Vincent returned to the hospital two days later complaining of breathing difficulties. He was sent for a CT scan, but had to be resuscitated on his way to the scan because his condition was deteriorating. It was during the resuscitation attempts that Vincent began vomiting large amounts of brown fluid, and he sadly died in front of his wife Kathleen.

An inquest into Vincent´s death found that notes accompanying the x-ray taken on his second visit to the hospital saying that there were signs consistent with an obstruction in his small bowel had not been escalated to senior staff, who discharged Vincent prematurely believing that his condition was not critical.

The coroner concluded that if Vincent had been treated appropriately on his second visit to the hospital, he would not have died due from the symptoms of his strangulated hernia. The coroner noted that the failure to identify and treat Vincent´s condition amounted to a “gross failure to provide basic care” on the hospital´s behalf.

Following the inquest into Vincent´s death, his wife Kathleen instructed solicitors to claim compensation for the failure to treat a strangulated hernia. She said: “Nothing can ever turn back the clock and bring Vincent back, but we just hope medical staff will consider everything that happened and ensure a similar situation cannot occur to others”.

The Chief Executive for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust – Mike Pinkerton – commented: “We extend our sincerest sympathies and apologise for the loss suffered by Mr McKeown’s family. Following Mr McKeown’s death we began a full internal investigation and have already implemented changes”.

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Judge Awards Interim Settlement of Compensation for a Mismanaged Birth

A High Court judge in Dublin has awarded a four year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy an interim settlement of compensation for a mismanaged birth.

On 9th July 2010, Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital “neurologically compromised” having been deprived of oxygen in the womb. Kevin spent more than three weeks in the hospital´s intensive care department and, now suffering from cerebral palsy, can only walk short distances unaided.

On Kevin´s behalf a claim for compensation for a mismanaged birth was made against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by his mother – Jane Dunphy from Mooncoin in County Kilkenny. It was alleged in the legal action that Kevin´s injuries could have been avoided if he had been properly monitored and delivered an hour earlier.

According to court papers, a foetal blood sample had been taken at 1:40am on the morning of Kevin´s birth, but not subsequent to a decrease in his heartrate being recorded at 2:30am. It was claimed that, if a second foetal blood sample had been taken, a decision would have been made to intervene with the birth and Kevin would have been delivered by emergency Caesarean Section.

In 2013, the HSE admitted that there had been errors made in the treatment that Jane Dunphy had received and that the hospital had breached its duty of care by failing to effect a timely delivery. Liability was conceded and the HSE settled claims made by Kevin´s parents for emotional distress before Kevin´s claim went to the High Court for an assessment of compensation for a mismanaged birth.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met with Kevin privately in his chambers and learned that Kevin is at pre-school and, when he goes to school full-time, it is hoped that he will be able to join a mainstream class. Judge Cross described Kevin as “a lovely little lad”, and he praised the efforts put into raising him by his parents.

Judge Cross awarded Kevin an interim settlement of €2 million compensation for a mismanaged birth and adjourned the case for four years to enable a fuller assessment of Kevin´s future needs. When the case is reconvened, Kevin´s parents will have the option of choosing between a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement if legislation is passed in time for the introduction of a periodic payments system.

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Parents Settle Compensation Claim for a Fatal Delay in Treatment

The parents of a young man who jumped to his death at the Castle Mall Shopping Centre in Norwich have settled their compensation claim for a fatal delay in treatment against an NHS Trust.

In May 2013, Matthew Dunham (25) tragically jumped to his death from the cinema complex in Norwich´s Castle Mall Shopping Centre, two weeks after being referred to a specialist team for mental health problems which included severe low mood and mild anxiety.

Matthew had contacted the mental health services run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in February 2013; but by the following month his mood had deteriorated, and Matthew admitted to having thoughts of suicide.

In April Matthew was referred to the NHS Trust´s specialist mental health team, and it was suggested that social worker be appointed to support him. Matthew received a letter advising him of the help he was being offered, but the first meeting was not scheduled until 23rd May. Matthew tragically took his own life the following week.

An inquest into Matthew´s death recorded a verdict of death by suicide while suffering a mental health disorder and receiving mental health services. The Coroner – William Armstrong – criticised the NHS Trust for its “fragmented and uncoordinated approach” to mental health care, after which Matthew´s parents made a compensation claim for a fatal delay in treatment.

Matthew´s parents claimed in their legal action against the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust that a competent practitioner would have provided their son with an earlier intervention and treatment for his mental health issues. Had earlier intervention and treatment taken place, they claimed, the likelihood was that Matthew would not have committed suicide.

After a period of negotiation, the compensation claim for a fatal delay in treatment was settled out of court by the NHS Litigation Authority for an undisclosed five-figure sum. The Director of Nursing at Norfolk and Suffolk MHS Foundation Trust – Dr Jane Sayer – also issued an apology to the family in which she said: “Matthew’s family have our deepest sympathies and apologies for their loss.”

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Family Settle Wrongful Death Claim for Negligent Heart Surgery

A family from York have settled their wrongful death claim for negligent heart surgery that resulted in the loss of their eleven-year-old son.

Bradley Brough from Upper Poppleton in York was born with a complex congenital heart condition, and had previously undergone successful heart surgery to attend to a ventricular septal defect – where the septum was not fully formed in his heart.

By mid-2010, Bradley´s condition was identified as deteriorating, and he attended the Leeds General Infirmary on 11th October for a Total Cavo-Pulmonary Connection (TCPC) and the closure of his pulmonary artery.

Following the ten-hour operation, Bradley´s condition began to deteriorate. He underwent an emergency exploration procedure in the hospital´s theatre due to excessive bleeding, but the cause of the problem was not identified.

On the following day, Bradley was taken back to theatre for the TCPC connection to be disconnected, but his condition continued to deteriorate. An emergency CT scan on Bradley´s brain revealed that he was suffering from a significant cerebral haemorrhage and a brain ischemia.

Further tests on Bradley’s brain activity showed that a large section of his brain had become unresponsive, and Bradley was put on life support. Bradley´s condition continued to get worse and, on 13th October, the life support was switched off and Bradley died.

Having been told that the second operation had been a success – only to see their son die the following day – Bradley´s parents instructed solicitors to investigate what had actually happened to their son. The solicitor´s medical experts found:

  • That the initial heart surgery was performed negligently, particularly that the pulmonary artery had not been closed off as planned,
  • There was a delay in identifying the deterioration of Bradley´s health,
  • Further investigations should have been conducted into Bradley´s deteriorating condition before the emergency exploratory procedure took place,
  • Bradley should have been taken back into surgery for the reversal of the TCPC connection the same day, rather than the morning after.

With this information, Bradley´s parents made a wrongful death claim for negligent heart surgery against the surgeon who performed the operations – Nihal Weerasena – and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Liability was admitted and an undisclosed settlement of the wrongful death claim for negligent heart surgery was agreed. After the claim had been settled, Bradley´s mother – Sharon – said: “We do not think the standard of care Bradley received by medical staff at Leeds General Infirmary was acceptable and more should have been done so he could be with us today”.

“We are pleased that the Trust admitted responsibility for the mistakes made during Bradley’s care at the hospital. We have now received a settlement which marks the end of the legal battle but we just hope that lessons can be learned to make sure that each and every patient gets the care and support they need.”

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Erb´s Palsy Compensation Settlement Approved at Dublin High Court

A €250,000 Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement has been approved at the Dublin High Court for a girl who suffered an avoidable brachial plexus birth injury.

Keelan Murray was born at the National Maternity Hospital in January 2004 after an obstetric emergency due to Keelan having shoulder dystocia – a situation in which the baby´s shoulders fail to clear the pubic symphysis. In resolving the shoulder dystocia situation, excessive force was used to extract the shoulders, resulting in Keelan suffering an avoidable brachial plexus injury.

Damaged brachial plexus nerves can heal themselves during the early months of a child´s life, but sometimes the damage is permanent – as in Keelan´s case – when the condition becomes known as Erb´s Palsy. Now eleven years old, Keelan is unable to make full use of her right arm due to the nerve damage she sustained and has had to learn how to write with her left hand.

Keelan underwent an operation to repair the injury in 2012, but surgery failed to improve her condition. Through her mother – Sharon Murray of Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow – Keelan made a claim for Erb´s Palsy compensation against the National Maternity Hospital, alleging that traction was inappropriately used to enable her delivery after shoulder dystocia had been identified.

The National Maternity Hospital denied that Keelan´s condition had been caused by medical negligence but offered an Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement of €250,000 without an admission of liability. Keelan´s mother accepted the offer on advice from her solicitor, but as the Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement was in respect of a claim made on behalf of a child, it had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Keelan´s best interest.

The approval hearing took place at the Dublin High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told how Keelan is a bright young girl who still manages to participate in sports despite her disability. Judge Cross agreed with Keelan´s solicitor that it would be prudent to accept the proposed Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement in the circumstances and he approved it – wishing Keelan well for the future as he closed the case.

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