Archive for May 2015

Woman Settles Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer while Another One Begins

A woman, who underwent an unnecessary double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, has settled her claim for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer.

The unnamed woman was incorrectly diagnosed with breast cancer after her treating consultant reviewed the mammogram scans from another patient by mistake. The treating consultant told the woman that her non-invasive breast cancer was serious and that she needed urgent surgery.

The consequences of being diagnosed with breast cancer understandably caused terrible personal problems for the woman. The relationship with her husband suffered to the point where their marriage broke up and her previously successful business collapsed.

A mix-up in the order that patients were called into the treating room was later identified as being responsible for the error, but it was only after the woman had undergone an unnecessary double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery that she was informed of the mistake.

After seeking legal advice, the woman made a claim for the misdiagnosis if breast cancer against the Norfolk and Norwich NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust´s investigation confirmed where the mistake had occurred and a settlement of £150,000 was negotiated.

The woman´s claim for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer due to the mix-up of patient notes is the second such event to have happened in as many months. In April, Elizabeth Dawes (39) from Stafford also discovered she had undergone unnecessary surgery for breast cancer that had been misdiagnosed due to a mix-up of patient notes.

Elizabeth unnecessarily underwent a lumpectomy and bilateral breast lift at the New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after being incorrectly diagnosed with a grade 3 invasive tumour in her breast, and was so traumatised by the event that she has had to give up her job.

In Elizabeth´s case, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has already apologised “unreservedly” for the mistake and has conducted an investigation to ensure that no other patients were affected by the error. The settlement of Elizabeth´s claim for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer is still under discussion.

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Settlement of Claim for the Failure to Act on Pre-Birth Scans Approved in Court

The settlement of a claim for the failure to act on pre-birth scans has been approved in favour of a seven year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy.

Kit van Berckel was born at the Harrogate District Hospital ten days overdue on 31st May 2008. In the run up to his birth, medical staff continually failed to correctly interpret and act on pre-birth scans that indicated Kit was suffering foetal distress in his mother´s womb. When Kit was delivered, no heartbeat was recorded and he needed resuscitating.

Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Kit suffered a significant brain injury and was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. He is unable to sit without help, has no independent mobility and cannot feed himself. Despite being unable to speak, Kit attends a mainstream school, where he uses eye gaze technology and other hi-tech systems to communicate.

Through his parents – Joanna and Charles Berckel from Harrogate in North Yorkshire – Kit made a claim for the failure to act on pre-birth scans, alleging that his injuries were attributable to the negligence of the staff at Harrogate District Hospital. Following an investigation by the Harrogate Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, there was a full admission of liability.

Over the following months, a care and rehabilitation package was negotiated – although Kit will remain living with his parents at their specially constructed home in Harrogate. The full value of the settlement of the claim for the failure to act on pre-birth scans is calculated to be worth £9.872 million, and earlier this week the settlement was approved at the Leeds High Court.

After the approval hearing, Kit´s mother said: “We were devastated and heartbroken when we found out that Kit’s condition could have been avoided if mistakes had not been made during his delivery.  There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of accountability and management procedures to minimise the opportunity of negligence caused by medical staff.”

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Pensioner Awarded Compensation for Negligent Surgery at Basildon Hospital

A seventy year old woman has been awarded £35,000 compensation for negligence surgery at Basildon Hospital by a judge at the High Court.

Catherine King from Buckhurst Hill in London attended the Basildon Hospital in October 2009 to have plaque removed from an artery. During the operation, a nerve was damaged that left Catherine with a “weak, husky and painful” voice – described by her husband as “ a very quiet, very hoarse whisper”.

The injury to her voice made it difficult for Catherine to continue her job as a warden in a sheltered accommodation facility. In addition to being unable to help the elderly residents who were hard of hearing, Catherine was unable to use the telephone or sing in her local church choir.

After seeking legal advice, Catherine claimed compensation for negligent surgery at Basildon Hospital. However, her claim was contested by the Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who argued that the injury was most likely the result of a subsequent blood clot rather than negligent surgery.

Catherine took her claim for compensation for negligent surgery at Basildon Hospital to the High Court in London; where she told Mr Justice Robert Jay that she was aware her voice was weak after the surgery, but “did not want to make a fuss about it and took it to be a normal reaction”. The judge also heard that Catherine felt socially handicapped due to not being able to use the telephone.

The judge dismissed the NHS Trust´s defence that her injury was more likely due to a blood clot that had formed after the procedure and was “part and parcel of a recognised complication” and said that, on the balance of probabilities, Catherine´s injury was more likely caused by a surgical error. Having found in her favour, Mr Justice Robert Jay awarded Catherine £35,000 compensation for negligent surgery at Basildon Hospital.

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Compensation for Paralysis due to Medical Negligence Approved in Court

An interim settlement of compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence has been approved at the Dublin High Court in favour of an eighteen year old woman.

In December 2009, Emily Casey (then 13 years of age) underwent a procedure at Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children intended to reverse her scoliosis – a curvature of the spine attributable to Emily having suffered from meningitis when she was just four years old.

During the procedure, a special screw – known as a pedicle – was inserted into Emily´s spine which was supposed to reverse the curvature. However, the screw was incorrectly inserted into her spinal cord, and Emily was left paralysed from the chest down. Because of the medical negligence, Emily is unable to live an independent life and confined to a wheelchair.

On her daughter´s behalf, Stephanie Casey from Dalkey in Dublin claimed compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence against Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children and the consultant orthopaedic surgeon who conducted the procedure – Dr David Moore.

Both the hospital and the consultant orthopaedic surgeon contested their liability until court proceedings were issued. The joint defendants subsequently admitted that errors had been made in Emily´s treatment and an interim €1.668 million settlement of compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence was agreed.

As the claim for compensation had been made on behalf of a legal minor, the case was presented to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Dublin for approval of the settlement. Judge Cross heard about Emily´s medical background and that after the negligent scoliosis procedure she had remained in the hospital until April 2010 before being transferred to the National Rehabilitation Centre for further treatment.

Judge Cross said that he had no hesitation in approving the interim settlement of compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence, and he then adjourned the case until later in the month for issues to be resolved that prevented the settlement from being a full one. After the hearing, Emily’s mother said the family, and especially Emily, were relieved that liability had been admitted, but was angry that “Nobody would admit that a mistake had been made until last week.”

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Court Approves Settlement of Claim for a Brain Injury due to a Surgical Error

The High Court has approved the settlement of a claim for a brain injury due to surgical negligence in favour of a woman who attended hospital for a laparoscopy.

The woman on whose behalf the claim was made – and who has requested anonymity – attended Manchester´s Hope Hospital in March 2010 for a “routine” laparoscopy procedure. At the time, the woman was twenty-two years of age, was in a serious relationship, had an active social life and enjoyed her job as a hairdresser.

However, when one of the incisions was made at the start of the laparoscopy to remove a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, an aorta was punctured. As a result, the woman experienced significant blood loss, her circulation collapsed and her heart stopped beating. Her brain was starved of oxygen and she suffered serious brain damage.

Due to the surgical error, the woman is now confined to a wheelchair and needs full-time care. As she is also cognitively deficient, a claim for a brain injury due to a surgical error was made on her behalf by her mother. The NHS Trust in charge of the Hope Hospital – the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust – held an enquiry and acknowledged liability for her injuries in 2012.

A hearing to establish how much compensation for a brain injury due to a surgical error the woman was entitled to was scheduled; but, prior to the court date, a settlement of the claim was negotiated. Under the terms of the settlement, the woman will receive an immediate lump sum payment of £2 million and thereafter annual index-linked payments of compensation for the rest of her life.

As with all compensation claims made on behalf of claimants who are unable to represent themselves, the structured settlement had to be approved by the courts to make sure it was in the claimant´s best interests. Consequently Mrs Justice Swift was told the circumstances of the woman´s accident and injury at the High Court in London.

Mrs Justice Swift approved the settlement of the claim for a brain injury due to a surgical error and, after an apology had been read to the woman by a representative of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Judge Swift commented: “I hope that this substantial settlement will at least ensure she has the best possible quality of life in the years to come and I wish her and the other members of her family the very best for the future”.

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Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for Brain Damage due to Syntocinon

Dublin High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon and the failure to monitor once it had been administered.

Syntocinon is the brand name of the synthetic drug oxytocin. It is frequently used in maternity wards to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many expectant mothers Syntocinon has the benefits of reducing the length of time they spend in labour and helping the womb to contract after childbirth.

However, when Syntocinon is being administered, both mother and child have to be carefully Syntocinon is listed as one of ten “high-alert medications” because of the adverse reactions it has with with other medication and because it can escalate foetal distress when a baby is deprived of oxygen.

On 20th July 2007, Patrick Brannigan was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Cavan General Hospital in a very poor condition. Prior to his delivery a CTG scan had indicated signs of foetal distress, yet his mother – Niamh – had been administered Syntocinon to accelerate her labour.

The administration of Syntocinon had the effect of escalating Patrick´s distress in the womb, due to which he was deprived of oxygen and born suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Now seven years old, Patrick has no means of communication and is confined to a wheelchair.

On her son´s behalf, Niamh Brannigan claimed compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon, alleging that the labour accelerant should not have been administered after the CTG scan had indicated signs of foetal distress.

Niamh also claimed that there was a failure to monitor the foetal heartrate while she was in labour and that Patrick´s birth at the Cavan General Hospital was mismanaged. Following an investigation into the claims, Cavan General Hospital admitted that a “catalogue of errors” had resulted in Niamh and Patrick receiving a sub-standard level of healthcare.

The hospital issued an apology to the family and an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon amounting to €2.1 million was agreed, subject to the settlement being approval as in Patrick´s best interests by a judge.

Consequently at the Dublin High Court, the circumstances leading up to Patrick´s birth were retold to Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge heard that Patrick is a cheerful, good humoured boy who is cared for full-time by his parents. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon and adjourned the hearing for three years for an assessment of Patrick´s future needs to be made.

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