Archive for November 2015

Concern over Increase in Medical Negligence Claims in Northern Ireland

An increase in medical negligence claims in Northern Ireland threatens to swallow up addition funding allocated to the province´s healthcare service.

Concerns that £47.6 million of addition healthcare funding will be used to settle medical negligence claims in Northern Ireland have been raised by Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson, following the revelation that 752 new claims had been made against the health service in the year to April 2015.

The figures from the Department of Health also showed that £41.3 million was spent by the health service on medical negligence claims in Northern Ireland – with £30.1 million being paid out in compensation and the balance going towards legal costs and expert witnesses.

Ms Dobson – who is the Ulster Unionist spokesperson for health and agriculture – told reporters “Given the worryingly high £41.3 million cost of medical negligence cases last year, and the potential for higher costs this year, I am concerned that this new funding had already been swallowed up by the health service before it was even announced.”

During 2014/2015, there was an average of 3,061 claims being processed – an 11.3% increase compared to five years ago. The majority of the medical negligence claims in Northern Ireland related to treatment issues, misdiagnoses and incorrect tests results, or the failure to act on test results. Other complaints concerned surgical errors, negligence during childbirth and the lack of support received by patients in care.

Earlier this year, Rory McShane – Peter Walsh – the chief executive of the Action against Medical Accidents charity – said that the National Health Service should give higher priority to avoiding the lapses in patient safety in the first place, and avoiding legal costs as much as possible by admitting liability earlier. It currently takes an average of two-and-a-half years for medical negligence claims in Northern Ireland to be resolved.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “The department is committed to providing high quality, safe and effective health and social care services to all patients and clients across Northern Ireland. The treatment and care provided to the overwhelming majority of people is of the highest quality. On occasions, things do go wrong and when they do, it is right that people are compensated appropriately.”

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Undisclosed Settlement of Compensation for Burns due to a Lack of Care

A family has received an undisclosed settlement of compensation for burns due to a lack of care after their elderly mother was injured in a bathroom accident.

On 15th February 2012, ninety-year-old Jessie King was visited at her Rotherham home by two carers who came around daily to help Jessie out of bed and to take her to the bathroom for a shower. On this particular day, Jessie fell while preparing for her shower and landed with her back against a radiator.

The two carers contacted a home care services provider – Rothercare – to assist them after Jessie´s fall, but failed to consider that the radiator against which Jessie was leaning was still on. When specialists from Rothercare arrived, Jessie was helped to her feet. She finished her shower while the two carers prepared her breakfast and then left.

It was not until later that day that Jessie´s injury was discovered. Jessie was visited by her daughter Denise and a District Nurse, who arranged for an ambulance to take Jessie to the Northern General Hospital. At the hospital, Jessie was referred to the burns unit, where she had to undergo skin grafts as the burns on her back were so severe.

As Jessie suffers from dementia, a claim for compensation for burns due to a lack of care was made by another of her daughters – Jean – on her behalf. The claim was made against Nestor Primecare Services Ltd trading as Saga Home Care, as it was the company that employed the two carers who had failed to consider that Jessie had fallen against the radiator in the bathroom.

Nestor Primecare Services Ltd denied liability for Jessie´s injuries but, after pressure from Jean´s solicitors, the company agreed to an out-of-court settlement of compensation for burns due to a lack of care. Sadly Jessie passed away in May 2013.

Speaking after the settlement of compensation for burns due to a lack of care, another of Jessie´s daughters said: “The injuries mum suffered were absolutely horrendous and we can’t believe that her carers failed to notice she was lying against a hot radiator and that she had suffered severe burns. We are absolutely shocked that Nestor Primecare Services Ltd has continued to deny liability for the injuries and that they have never apologised for what happened.”

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Family Settle Claim for a Lack of Medical Care at a Birmingham Hospital

A family has settled its compensation claim for a lack of medical care at a Birmingham Hospital following their son´s death due to brain damage.

On 31st December 2009, Ross Askew (33) from Selly Oak in the West Midlands started to suffer abdominal pains. He attended the Selly Oak Hospital the following day, and was transferred to Birmingham´s Queen Elizabeth Hospital after being diagnosed with severe necrotising pancreatitis.

During the admissions process, Ross – who was already undergoing treatment for a recurring brain tumour – started to vomit bile, which blocked his respirator. Unable to breath, Ross suffered acute respiratory failure and went into cardiac arrest.

Due to being starved of oxygen, Ross suffered a significant brain injury. He was transferred to the specialist rehabilitation unit in April 2010, and discharged into the care of his family the following August. Tragically, Ross died on 10th October 2011 after being readmitted to hospital for treatment on his brain tumour.

Ross´s devastated mother – Carol – sought legal advice, and made a compensation claim for a lack of medical care at a Birmingham hospital. Carol alleged in her legal action that the care provided during Ross´s admission to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was sub-standard and responsible for his death.

The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust denied liability for Ross´s death, and argued that the treatment he received during the admissions process was unrelated to the cause of his death. Nonetheless, an undisclosed settlement of compensation was negotiated between the parties without an admission of liability.

Speaking after the compensation claim for a lack of medical care at a Birmingham hospital had been resolved, Carol Askew told her local press:

“We are bitterly disappointed that the Trust did not accept responsibility for the failings in his treatment. After he suffered the brain injury in early 2010, Ross needed 24-hour care as he wasn’t able to move independently or look after himself. We are devastated that he was taken away from us so suddenly and it is incredibly difficult for us to come to terms with.”

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Woman Allowed to Pursue Compensation for an Injury from an Epidural

A woman from Leeds has been granted permission to pursue compensation for an injury from an epidural eleven years after the injury was sustained.

In 2004, Karen Rayner (aged 24 at the time) gave birth to her third child at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent. Prior to the delivery, Karen was given an epidural which, she claims, resulted in a loss of feeling in her legs and pains in her spine and head.

Karen was readmitted to the Medway Maritime Hospital three weeks later, having been diagnosed with hydrocephalus which is more commonly known as water on the brain. Surgery was carried out to drain the fluid, but Karen still continues to suffer as a result of an inflammation affecting her brain and spinal cord.

It was not until 2012 that a medical expert discovered that her ongoing condition was likely caused by the epidural being contaminated with an antiseptic called chlorhexidine. Karen – now living in Leeds – sought legal advice and claimed compensation for an injury from an epidural against Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

The NHS Trust disputed the claim for compensation for an injury from an epidural on the grounds that the three-year Statute of Limitations for injury compensation claims had expired. Karen´s solicitor argued that her claim had been made within three years of the “date of knowledge” of an injury and its cause, and took the case to the High Court in London.

Last week, Mr Justice Wilkie agreed with the solicitor´s interpretation of the law, and granted Karen permission to pursue her claim for compensation for an injury from an epidural. Judge Wilkie said that Karen had been “assiduous” in pursuing her right to compensation for an injury from an epidural and it would be wrong to stop her case. No date has yet been set for the full hearing.

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