Archive for April 2015

Interim Settlement of Meningitis Misdiagnosis Claim Approved in Court

The Dublin High Court has approved a €3.7 million interim settlement of a meningitis misdiagnosis claim in favour of a young boy who is now paralysed due to medical negligence.

In May 2004, seventeen-month-old Matthew McGrath was referred to Wexford General Hospital by the family GP when he started vomiting fluids and was uncharacteristically drowsy. Matthew was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B and admitted into the special care baby unit at the hospital.

Matthew´s condition deteriorated overnight and he went into shock. Matthew underwent a lumbar puncture procedure to confirm a diagnosis of suspected meningitis – despite guidelines recommending that the procedure should not be conducted when a patient is in shock.

During the procedure, Matthew´s spinal cord was compressed and due to the negligence of the hospital he is now permanently paralysed. Matthew spent two years in hospital until his parents won a prolonged battle to care for him at their home in Gorey, County Wexford; however Matthew requires undivided attention as he cannot move his arms or legs, and relies on a ventilator to help him breathe.

After seeking legal advice, Cathy McGrath made a meningitis misdiagnosis claim against Wexford General Hospital on her son´s behalf. It was alleged in the claim that Haemophilus Influenza Type B is acknowledged to be an indicator of meningitis, and – had the correct diagnosis been made when Matthew was first admitted – he could have been successfully treated with antibiotics and fluids.

Following an investigation into the meningitis misdiagnosis claim, the Health Service Executive conceded liability for Matthew´s devastating injuries and issued an apology to Matthew´s parents. An interim €3.7 million settlement of Cathy´s meningitis misdiagnosis claim was negotiated, but the settlement first had to be approved by a judge as the claim was made on behalf of a legal minor.

At the Dublin High Court, Mr Justice Matthew Cross heard about the sequence of events that resulted in Matthew undergoing a lumbar puncture procedure and the devastating consequences. At the end of the hearing, Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of the meningitis misdiagnosis claim, and he adjourned the hearing for five years in order that Matthew´s future needs can be assessed with a view to a final settlement.

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Man Settles Claim for Side Effects of Parkinson´s Medication

A man, who developed a gambling addiction after being prescribed dopamine agonists, has settled his claim for the side effects of Parkinson´s medication.

The man – identified only as “Mr L” – was diagnosed with Parkinson´s disease in 2004 and prescribed dopamine agonists to control his symptoms. At the time, the patient was not advised of the potential side effects of dopamine agonists – one of which is compulsive behaviour and, in particular, compulsive gambling.

In December 2008, “Mr L” was the recipient of an inheritance. In a departure from his normal behaviour, he started buying scratch cards and gambling online. As a result he lost all of the inheritance funds and fell into debt. Feeling unable to tell his wife of what he had done, “Mr L” became isolated and secretive, and his marriage suffered as a consequence.

It was only during a medication review at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in March 2010 that the possibility of compulsive gambling as a potential side effect of Parkinson´s medication was mentioned by a consultant neurologist. “Mr L” was referred to a neuropsychiatrist for help with his gambling addiction and his medication was changed.

With the help of the neuropsychiatrist and the change is his medication, “Mr L” overcame his gambling addiction. Thereafter he complained to the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that he had not been warned about the risks associated with his medication, but he was told that compulsive gambling had not been recognised as a side effect of dopamine agonists until 2010.

“Mr L” sought legal advice and, following the discovery of a report from 2008 which had linked compulsive gambling with dopamine agonists for several years, he made a claim for the side effects of Parkinson´s medication.

In his legal action, “Mr L” alleged that if he had been warned against potentially developing compulsive behaviour when he had first been prescribed the dopamine agonists, he would have known to have been on his guard against developing such side effects. This, he claimed, would have prevented the situation in which he had suffered financial loss and in which he and his wife suffered distress in their marriage.

Presented with a copy of the 2008 report, the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted that there had been a failure to warn “Mr L” about potentially compulsive behaviour, and settled his claim for the side effects of Parkinson´s medication for an undisclosed five-figure sum.

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Settlement Package for Severe Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Claim Approved in Court

A settlement package for a severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim has been approved at Birmingham High Court in favour of a seven-year-old boy.

In 2002, Daniel Spencer was born at the Royal Worcester Hospital in poor condition after his mother -Sue – had suffered a ruptured placenta during labour and Daniel was deprived of oxygen in the womb. Due to the lack of oxygen, Daniel suffered brain damage and was diagnosed with severe athetoid cerebral palsy after his birth.

As a result of his birth injuries, Daniel has limited use of his arms and legs. He is unable to walk independently, has significant learning disabilities and will require twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life. Despite his disabilities, Daniel is described by his parents as a “wonderful boy” who continues to amaze them with the progress he makes.

Through his father – Oliver Spencer of Malvern in Worcestershire – Daniel made a severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim against the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, alleging that his injuries could have been avoided if the foetal heartrate had been properly monitored during his mother´s labour and during his delivery.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust admitted 75% liability for Daniel´s birth injuries and a settlement of the severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim was negotiated, consisting of a £2.7 million lump sum payment and annual index-linked payments of £116,000 – rising to £157,000 when Daniel reaches eighteen years of age.

As the severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim was made on behalf of a child, it had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Daniel´s best interests. The approval hearing took place at Birmingham High Court, where the settlement was approved, after which Daniel´s father told the media:

“We were devastated when we found out that Daniel’s condition could have been avoided had mistakes not been made during his birth. It’s a huge relief knowing that the settlement will provide for a secure future for Daniel and that his specialist care needs will be met for the rest of his life. While we will always help out where we can, he needs the support of experts in the field who can help him to achieve as independent a life as possible.”

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Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Administer Vitamin K Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth – calculated to be worth £7.38 million – has been approved in the High Court.

The claimant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was born at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 1989 with a low level of Vitamin K – a usually naturally occurring vitamin that the body needs to accelerate blood coagulation and bind calcium in bones and other tissues.

At the time of his birth, it was mandatory for a Vitamin K injection to be administered in these circumstances; but, as neither the midwife nor attending doctor had a dose with them, the decision was made not to administer the injection without any discussion with the child´s mother about the associated risks.

Three months later the boy was readmitted to Luton and Dunstable Hospital after developing a cold-like illness with a high-pitched cry. The boy was not feeding well and had also developed a squint. He underwent several tests before being transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where it was discovered he had suffered a brain haemorrhage and acute hydrocephalus.

The injuries were irreversible, and the claimant grew up with numerous physical and cognitive disabilities. He now requires twenty-four hour care and, in order that his long-term security was assured, his parents made a claim for compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth against the Secretary of State for Health.

Through the NHS, liability for the claimant´s injuries was admitted and a settlement of compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth was worked out with the NHS Litigation Authority. At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Judge Michael Yelton was told that the settlement comprised of a lump sum payment of £2.345 million, with further index-linked payment being made annually.

The judge approved the settlement of compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth, which will give the claimant access to a range of specialist support, including ensuring he can live in specially adapted accommodation and benefit from the around-the-clock care he requires.

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Partner Awarded Compensation for the Missed Diagnosis of a Pulmonary Embolism

The partner of a man who died in hospital of “entirely avoidable circumstances” has been awarded compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism.

On November 17th 2009, Terry Emmett from Wokingham in Berkshire was finding it hard to breath and he attended his GP, who prescribed diuretics. Terry´s condition deteriorated during the day and he went to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and admitted for investigations.

Three days later, a pulmonary embolism was suspected, and Terry was administered thrombolytic treatment. However the treatment was too late to prevent a blood clot that had formed in Terry´s calf traveling up his body and blocking the main artery carrying blood to his lungs. Terry suffered a cardiac arrest and died the same day.

Terry´s partner of twenty-five years – Patricia Roriston – claimed compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism. Patricia claimed in her action that if thrombolytic treatment had been administered on the day following his admission into hospital, Terry would have survived without complications.

Following an investigation by the Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, liability for Terry´s wrongful death was admitted, but the NHS Trust disputed how much compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism Patricia was entitled to. The NHS Trust claimed that Terry was suffering from obesity and would have been unable to return to work as an electrical engineer had he made a full recovery.

The NHS Trust´s offer of £35,000 compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism was dismissed by Patricia on advice from her solicitor, and the case went to the High Court in London. At the hearing Judge Sir Robert Francis QC agreed with Patricia that Terry was a hard-working and “larger than life” character, who would have continued working and providing for his family until the day he died.

The judge awarded Patricia £200,503 compensation for the missed diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism, after which Patricia commented: The family do not see this award as a victory as nothing can bring Terry back but we are pleased that Judge Francis’ decision has finally brought justice for Terry.”

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Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Spot a Detached Retina Agreed

A woman has agreed to a settlement of compensation for the failure to spot a detached retina that resulted in her losing the sight in her left eye.

The woman identified only as “Ms S” is a diabetes sufferer who, prior to 2008, had undergone two successful operations for cataracts. As she noticed her vision was failing in her left eye in November 2009, she visited an optometrist, who prescribed glasses.

The glasses failed to resolve the problem in the woman´s left eye and “Ms S” visited her GP in December 2009, who prescribed eye drops. She was seen by a different GP a week later, who referred her to an ophthalmic specialist after noticing a cloudiness on the lens of her left eye.

While she was waiting for an appointment to see the ophthalmic specialist, “Ms S” completely lost the vision in her left eye. On 29th December she telephoned her GP, who made an urgent referral for her to attend a specialist eye hospital.

At the hospital, “Ms S” was informed that her loss of vision was attributable to a detached retina in her left eye that had occurred some three to four weeks previously and which was, by that point, inoperable.

“Ms S” sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the failure to spot a detached retina after it was shown that, had she receive competent medical attention at the beginning of December, the sight in her left eye could have been saved.

It was also discovered during the course of her solicitor´s investigations that one of the GPs “Ms S” had seen had altered her medical notes retrospectively. Liability for the woman´s loss of sight in her left eye was admitted by the GP surgery, and a substantial five-figure settlement of compensation for the failure to spot a detached retina was agreed.

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NHS Found Negligent in Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

An Australian woman has been successful in her claim for the misdiagnosis of metastatic colorectal cancer and awarded £91,300 at the High Court.

Sue O´Reilly from Sydney in Australia brought her claim for the misdiagnosis of metastatic colorectal cancer following the premature death of her fifty-five year old husband – Dr David O´Reilly – in November 2006. Claiming that David would have lived longer if doctors attached to the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had correctly diagnosed his condition sooner, Sue claimed compensation for the premature loss of her husband and her emotional trauma.

Prior to David´s death, the couple had been living in Chichester, Sussex, and in 2003 David had undergone an endoscopy to detect the cause of symptoms he was experiencing. The consultant surgeon who conducted the endoscopy overlooked a lesion in David´s colon and, the following year, the family´s GP misdiagnosed David with irritable bowel syndrome.

After David´s death, Sue returned to Sydney with her severely disabled son Shane so that she could get support with his care from other members of the family. She attempted to have the claim for the misdiagnosis of metastatic colorectal cancer heard in Australia, but the NHS Trust against whom the claim was made disputed the viability of her actions.

In 2010, the New South Wales Supreme Court agreed to hear the claim in Sydney because of Sue´s commitment to her son but, as the case progressed, Shane died unexpectedly from complications relating to cerebral palsy. The Australian judge hearing the case – Mr Justice Peter Garling – agreed that, as Sue now had no commitments to prevent her from travelling to the UK, it would be more cost-effective to hear evidence from witnesses in London.

Because of the legal similarities between Australia and the UK, Mr Justice Peter Garling was appointed as a temporary examiner by the Royal Court of Justice so that he could continue to hear the claim for the misdiagnosis of metastatic colorectal cancer and ultimately he found the NHS Trust in breach of its duty of care – awarding Sue £91,300 compensation for the premature loss of her husband – but nothing for her emotional trauma, on the grounds that David would have died within five years (instead of three years) had the condition been diagnosed correctly.

More importantly for Sue, Judge Garling dismissed the NHS Trust´s application to pay only 25% of Sue´s legal costs – which had run into almost a million pounds over the nine years she had been fighting the claim for metastatic colorectal cancer. The NHS Trust argued that the legal costs were disproportionately high in comparison to the award of compensation, but Judge Garling disagreed and attributed the full amount of the costs to the NHS.

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Medical Negligence Claim for a Mishandled Birth Heard in Court

A High Court judge has adjourned a medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth for solicitors to work out how much compensation a twelve-year-old boy should receive.

James Robshaw was born at the Lincoln County Hospital in 2002 after a CTG trace indicating an abnormal foetal heartbeat was ignored by medical staff. Due to the oversight, James was delivered by Caesarean Section much later than he should have been and due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, now suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Through his mother – Suzanne Adams – James made a medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth against the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who failed to acknowledge liability for James´ birth injuries until 2009. An interim payment of compensation was paid to Suzanne while negotiations were conducted to agree a final settlement.

Unfortunately, solicitors working towards a final settlement of James´ medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth could not agree on how much compensation the young boy was entitled to. Solicitors representing James believed he should receive a lump sum payment of £11.2 million plus index-linked annual payments, while NHS solicitors would not agree to a lump sum payment beyond £7.45 million.

The medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth went to the High Court in London, where it was heard by Mr Justice Foskett. The judge was told of the problems in resolving the medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth and ruled on the key issues that were preventing the claim from being finally resolved. Judge Foskett sent the two parties away to reassess their calculations, and to return after Easter with an acceptable agreement.

At the hearing, the court also heard an apology read to Suzanne and James by Pauline pratt – Acting Chief Nurse at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. In the apology Ms Pratt said: “United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS Litigation Authority are deeply sorry for what happened and for the impact this has had upon James and his family”.

She continued: “The trust accepted, in 2009, liability for the injuries which James sustained during his birth some 12 years ago. Although we cannot turn back the clock, we hope that the compensation, once agreed, will provide the reassurance that James’ future care needs will be met.”

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