Archive for June 2015

Hospital Ordered to Pay Compensation for Failing to Treat Sepsis

A Hospital has been ordered to pay compensation for failing to treat sepsis to the son of a woman who died three weeks after being admitted with the condition.

In March 2014, the woman – who was only identified as “Mrs A” – suffered a cardiac arrest and died at Cardiff´s University Hospital of Wales, three weeks after being admitted with sepsis – a life-threatening condition that is triggered by an infection and that can result in a decrease in blood pressure, affecting the supply of blood to organs such as the brain, kidneys and heart.

Following a complaint by the woman´s son, the Ombudsman conducted an investigation and found a series of errors in her treatment. These included the failure to be assessed by a doctor for more than three hours, followed by a six-hour delay in administering antibiotics to treat the condition. The Ombudsman also found the hospital failed to follow record keeping and complaint handling procedures.

Describing the treatment that the seventy-nine year old woman had received as “inadequate”, the Ombudsman – Nick Bennet – upheld the complaint by her son that she had been misdiagnosed and her illness was mismanaged. He ordered the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to apologise to the son and to pay £4,000 compensation for failing to treat sepsis.

The Executive Nurse Director of the Cardiff and Vale Health Board – Ruth Walker – accepted that the hospital could have improved several aspects of the care provided for the woman and agreed to the award of compensation for failing to treat sepsis. She said that the hospital would implement the recommendations made by the Ombudsman and added:

“The health board recognises the risks posed by sepsis and we have been working hard to raise awareness amongst all staff of the symptoms and steps to take to help save lives. We will continue to build on these efforts and share this sad story with all our colleagues to help avoid it happening again.”

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Family to Pursue Claim for Wrongful Death due to Negligent Post-Operative Care

A family have instructed a solicitor to pursue a claim for a wrongful death due to negligent post-operative care at the private Yorkshire Clinic in Bingley.

On 25th September 2014, James Hartley (79) from Addingham was admitted as an NHS patient to the private Yorkshire Clinic in Bingley for a routine hernia repair operation. The hernia repair operation went as planned, but twenty-four hours afterwards James suffered a series of seizures.

James was transferred to the intensive care department at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where tests revealed evidence of low sodium levels and a swelling of the brain. James died six days later from water intoxication, multiple organ failure due to sepsis and pneumonia.

An inquest into his death found that James – described as “fit and healthy” prior to his hernia operation – had not been fitted with a catheter until fourteen hours after his operation, during which time he had been encouraged to drink plenty of water.

The catheter had been removed straight after 650ml of fluid had been removed, and James fluid levels had not been checked since – causing a fatal amount of water to build up in his system which led to the swelling of his brain and the development of sepsis.

Assistant coroner Oliver Langstaff recorded a verdict of death by misadventure at the inquest, but he noted: “There is no doubt in my mind that the major contributing force in Mr Hartley’s death was water intoxication brought on by an overload of fluids that went unmonitored and unnoticed”.

Mr Langstaff added: “I have some misgivings of the overall thoroughness to the investigation into nurses responsible for Mr Hartley’s care on September 25 and they are conspicuous by their absence from this inquiry.”

Members of the family attending the inquest said that they were pleased that the assistant coroner had highlighted the lack of care received by James, and revealed that they had instructed a solicitor to pursue a claim for wrongful death due to negligence post-operative care.

Mr Hartley’s son Richard, added: “[the death of James] raises another issue of private companies coming in and taking over NHS operations and it asks questions about the standard of care provided in supposedly easy contracts.”

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Couple Make Claim for a Stillborn Birth at Warrington Hospital

A couple have had to make a compensation claim for a stillborn birth at Warrington Hospital to get answers for why they were deprived a second daughter.

On December 21st 2014, Angela Owens (30) from Chapelford in Warrington was out shopping with her partner Paul Humphreys (31) when she experienced a sudden onset of pain. As Angela was one week and six days overdue with her second child – and due to be induced the following day – she rang the labour ward of Warrington Hospital, who told her to come in right away.

When Angela arrived at the hospital, she explained that she was concerned because the pain she was experiencing was unlike her previous pregnancy. A midwife examined Angela, but as she was only two centimetres dilated, the advice given to her was to go home and take a couple of paracetamol.

Angela refused, and was taken into a room where she asked for pain relief. A nurse told her it was too early for gas and air, and suggested that she got into the birthing pool to relieve the pain. Angela did so, but the pain intensified and Angela had to ask for assistance to get her out – asking the nurse to check on the health of her unborn child.

The previous foetal heartbeat had been recorded when Angela first entered the hospital, but – against the national guidelines for monitoring expectants mothers – no other checks had been performed since. When Angela was assisted out of the pool and place onto a bed, no foetal heart rate could be detected – either manually or by ultrasound. Baby Ella was eventually delivered just after 11.00pm, but her birth was recorded as stillborn.

Angela and Paul claim that if the medical staff at Warrington Hospital had acted on Angela´s concerns – or monitored her baby as regularly as they were supposed to do – there could have been a different outcome. However, as inquests are not held into the deaths of babies who are stillborn, the couple are reliant on the results of an internal investigation into the treatment Angela received at the hospital.

Not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, Angela and Paul have made a claim for a stillborn birth at Warrington Hospital to get the answers to their questions. They hope by engaging a solicitor to act on their behalf, they will find out exactly why medical staff failed to adhere to the national guidelines for monitoring expectant mothers and why they were deprived of a second daughter.

Update: Angela and Paul were one of ten sets of parents whose babies had died stillborn or in “unexpected circumstances” at the Warrington Hospital within a twelve month period. An investigation by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists found that the maternity unit was short-staffed, deaths were avoidable and there was often a breakdown in communication. Angela and Paul´s claim for a stillborn birth at Warrington Hospital is still ongoing.

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Man Awarded Compensation for a Pulmonary Embolism after Surgery

A man who was not advised of the potential consequences of a hernia operation has been awarded £17,500 compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery.

David Spencer (49) attended Hillingdon Hospital on 1st February 2010 for routine surgery to repair a hernia. The operation was supposed to be conducted by laparoscopy but, due to excessive bleeding obscuring the surgeon´s view, it was completed by an open procedure.

David was considered sufficiently recovered to be discharged from the hospital the same evening, but a few days later he started to suffer aching calf muscles. On his return to work as a property services manager on 15th February, David´s calves were still aching and he noticed that he was short of breath when climbing stairs.

As he had been unable to take much exercise due to his hernia problems, David attributed the pains in his calves and his shortness of breath to a general lack of fitness; but, when his breathlessness failed to improve, David contacted his GP, who advised him to return to the hospital.

On 23rd April, David attended the A&E Department at Hillingdon Hospital and was admitted after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. He was treated with blood thinning medication and kept in hospital for five days until his condition improved.

Following his discharge, David sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery; alleging that he had not been informed of the full risks associated with the procedure before being asked to give his consent.

The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust acknowledged that David had not been specifically warned about the risks of deep vein thrombosis developing after his operation, but contested that he had been told to report “any problems” that he experienced in the weeks and months after his initial discharge.

As a result of the dispute of David´s failure to report the pain in his calves to either his GP or his consultant, the claim for compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery went to the High Court, where it was heard by His Honour Judge Collender QC.

Judge Collender was told that a settlement of compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery amounting to £17,500 had been agreed, but that the Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust wanted a 50 percent reduction of the settlement to account for David´s contributory negligence.

After hearing that David that been fitted with pneumatic boots during the surgery – a device that is intended to improve a patient’s blood circulation so as to reduce the risk of a patient suffering from deep vein thrombosis – the judge concluded that the hospital had been aware of the risk of a pulmonary embolism, but this information had not been passed onto David before he was asked to sign the consent form.

Judge Collender ruled that as David had not been informed of the risk of deep vein thrombosis, and that David believed his calf pains were unconnected to his surgery, he could not be considered to have contributed to the extent or severity of his injury. The judge therefore upheld the agreed £17,500 settlement of compensation for a pulmonary embolism after surgery.

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Court Approves Compensation for Birth Injuries due to Alleged Negligence

The Irish High Court has approved an €800,000 interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence in favour of a 10-year-old boy.

On 30th September 2004, Luke Beirne was born at the Midlands Regional Hospital eleven days past his due date. Due to alleged negligence prior to his birth, Luke was deprived of oxygen in the womb and suffered brain damage. Now suffering from cerebral palsy, asthma and multiple allergies, Luke will require surgery and extra therapy as he gets older due to his muscles tightening.

Through his mother – Margaret Beirne from Mullingar in County Westmeath – Luke claimed compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence against the Health Service Executive (HSE), claiming that a failure to monitor the foetal heartbeat led to Luke´s injuries. Margaret also alleged that her consultant obstetrician – David Mortell – had not discussed the risks associated with a vaginal birth.

The HSE and the consultant obstetrician denied the allegations, but made an offer of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence amounting to €800,000. The offer was made without an admission of liability or an apology, and is intended to provide care and treatment for Luke until he reaches eighteen years of age and his future needs can be reassessed.

Margaret´s solicitors recommended that she accept the interim offer of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence, and the proposed settlement went to the High Court to be approved by a judge. At the hearing, Margaret told Mr Justice Michael Moriarty that she entrusted the court to make the right decision for Luke and his future.

She said that she was concerned that the offer of interim compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence was not realistic and would not be sufficient to pay for Luke´s future care needs. Margaret told Judge Moriarty that midwives were “chatting in the corridor” rather than monitoring her condition, and that a locked theatre room delayed Luke´s delivery – exacerbating his injuries.

Judge Moriarty heard that, if the case went to trial, the HSE and consultant obstetrician would testify that everything that could have been done in the circumstances to prevent Luke suffering birth injuries was done. The judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged – saying that it was in Luke´s best interests considering the possibility that, if the case went to a full trial, it could be found in the defendant´s favour.

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Claim for the Failure to Diagnose Hypoglycaemia Resolved at High Court

A claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia was resolved yesterday at the High Court with claimant securing a lifetime care settlement.

Ben Harman was born at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in April 2002, underweight and floppy due to extremely low blood sugar levels. Despite displaying the symptoms of low blood sugar levels, staff at the hospital failed to perform the blood glucose tests that should have been conducted under NHS protocol until two days after his birth, allowing Ben´s condition to deteriorate further.

Ben was administered dextrose once his condition had been identified but, when he was discharged on 17th April 2002, his parents were not told that he had potentially suffered a hypoglycaemic injury or what its consequences were. Consequently, when Ben failed to develop as quickly as his older brother had, his parents were concerned but attributed his disabilities to one of life´s cruelties.

After Ben was diagnosed with autism in 2006, his parents applied for a blue handicapped badge for their car. It was only when they were asked to support the application with medical evidence that they became aware of the medical negligence that had caused their son´s brain damage. They sought legal advice and made a claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia on behalf of their son.

The East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust initially denied its liability for Ben´s devastating injuries, and continued to do so until July 2013. Thereafter, the NHS Trust would not agree to any settlement package proposed by the family´s solicitors – suggesting instead that Ben would better served by a life in institutional care. Consequently the claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia went to the High Court to be resolved.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Turner rejected the argument that Ben should spend the rest of his life in institutional care and ordered the NHS Trust to pay for Ben´s fees at a specialist boarding school – Prior’s Court in Hermitage, Berkshire. His parents will take over responsibility for his care when Ben is twenty-five years of age.

The final settlement of the family´s claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia will be announced shortly. It will consist of a lump sum payment so that Ben´s parents can adopt their home in order to make it suitable for when Ben visits at weekends, and annual index-linked payments so that Ben is assured of the care that he needs for the rest of his life.

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Woman Receives Compensation for the Missed Diagnosis of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A woman from Wiltshire has received £15,000 compensation for the missed diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in her becoming infertile.

The unnamed woman and her husband were trying for their third child when, in June 2012, the woman attended her GP complaining of pains to her lower abdomen and her left hand side. The GP referred her to the Early Pregnancy Unit at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, where she underwent an ultrasound scan.

The ultrasound scan revealed nothing in the womb, but the woman was called back to the hospital twice more within a week for blood tests and further ultrasound scans – the second set of blood tests indicating that her BHCG levels had increased, but not sufficiently to confirm that she was pregnant.

The woman was told that there were three possibilities – that she was having a normal pregnancy, that a miscarriage had occurred or that there was an ectopic pregnancy. The woman had two previous ectopic pregnancies – one which resulted in one fallopian tube being surgically removed and the second being successfully treated with methotrexate.

Following more scans and blood tests ten days later, the woman received a telephone call asking her to attend the hospital once again for a laparoscopy. The hospital told her that the blood tests had confirmed an ectopic pregnancy and, when she arrived at the hospital for the procedure, was told that her remaining fallopian tube could not be saved and would have to be removed.

After recovering from the procedure, the woman sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the missed diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy. In her legal action she alleged that doctors should have identified the ectopic pregnancy earlier based on her previous medical history and administered methotrexate.

This course of action, she claimed, would have eliminated the need for her second fallopian tube to be removed and allowed her to try again for a third child. The hospital acknowledged the error, and a negotiated settlement of compensation for the missed diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy was negotiated amounting to £15,000.

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Woman Settles Claim for Late Diagnosis of Rectal Cancer

A seventy-six year old woman has settled her claim for the late diagnosis of rectal cancer by her GP for an undisclosed amount out of court.

The woman – identified only as “Lesley” – made a claim for the late diagnosis of rectal cancer after visiting her GP frequently over the course of two years, complaining of an increased bowel frequency and the sensation of an incomplete emptying of her bowels.

Despite her concerns, Lesley´s GP failed to examine her or refer her to a specialist during that time. Eventually Lesley´s condition was accurately diagnosed, and she had to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy in addition to undergoing radical surgery to site a permanent colostomy.

Fortunately the cancer diagnosis was made in time so that the condition could be treated before it spread to other areas of her body, but Lesley still suffers the consequences of the poor standard of treatment she received as well as experiencing a considerable deterioration in her quality of life.

The claim for the late diagnosis of rectal cancer was pursued on Lesley´s behalf by her solicitor, who was able to demonstrate that if her GP had conducted an examination when Lesley first expressed her concerns – or at least referred Lesley to a specialist – her condition could have been treated without the need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or the need for a colostomy.

Liability was conceded, and an undisclosed settlement of the claim for the late diagnosis of rectal cancer was made out of court. Afterwards, Lesley´s solicitor commented: “Luckily, Lesley’s cancer had not spread so far as to make it untreatable, but she has still been left with side effects from the treatment that affects her daily life.”

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