Archive for December 2015

NHS Acknowledges Liability in Locked-In Syndrome Compensation Claim

An NHS Trust has acknowledged that the standard of care provided to a girl making a locked-in syndrome compensation claim fell below an acceptable standard.

In September 2011, Anna White (then fifteen years of age) was admitted to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan for an appendectomy. The operation appeared to have gone well until Anna started convulsing during her recovery.

Anna continued convulsing to the alarm of her mother – Donna – who was by her daughter´s bedside. Donna attracted a nurse´s attention, but it was too late to prevent Anna suffering a cardiac arrest. While she was being resuscitated, Anna suffered a lack of oxygen, which resulted in brain damage and catastrophic disabilities.

Now nineteen years of age, Anna is unable to get out of bed or move from her wheelchair without specialist equipment. She cannot wash or feed herself unaided, and can only communicate by looking at letters on a board to spell out words. Her intellectual capacity is unimpaired but doctors say she faces being “locked in” her body for the rest of her life.

An investigation into what caused Anna to suffer a cardiac arrest after a routine operation found that the tube used to deliver anaesthetic to Anna during the appendectomy was not flushed out properly after it had been used. A small dose of the drug was left inside it and when fluids were administered to Anna following the surgery through the same tube, the remaining anaesthetic was inadvertently delivered into her body.

On her daughter´s behalf, Donna made a locked-in syndrome compensation claim so that Anna will be provided with the specialist care she will need for the rest of her life. Now the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has admitted liability for the error that caused Anna to suffer such catastrophic disabilities and negotiations have started to settle the locked-in syndrome compensation claim.

A spokesperson for the NHS Trust said: “The Trust has admitted that the care it provided to Anna White fell below an acceptable standard, and has apologised unreservedly to Ms White for this. The Trust has implemented a number of changes to eliminate the possibility of this type of failing occurring in the future. Given that legal proceedings in relation to this care are ongoing, the Trust is unable to offer further comment at this stage”.

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£500,000 Fine for Avoidable Stafford Hospital Deaths

The now-defunct Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £500,000 for failings that resulted in four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths.

Charges were brought against the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths – three of them attributable to falls in the hospital, and a fourth due to a patient being administered a medicine she was known to be allergic to.

Last month the NHS Trust pleaded guilty to “very significant failings” in the care of the four patients at Stafford Magistrates´ Court, who referred the case for sentencing to Stafford Crown Court. At the hearing, the court heard that three of the charges related to a failure to carry out a proper risk assessment and identify control measures to prevent falls.

At Stafford Crown Court, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave – who had previously fined the NHS Trust £200,000 for failings related to the death of Gillian Astbury in 2007 – heard extracts from relatives about the four victims. He said that the failings that caused the four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths were attributable to the lack of a robust management system for safeguarding patients.

Sentencing the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the judge said: “I hope today brings some closure and finally draws a line under the past, and that Stafford and Cannock Hospitals can open a new and bright chapter and become the hospitals that their dedicated staff and local communities can once again be proud of.”

As the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is no longer operating, the £500,000 fine for the four avoidable Stafford Hospital deaths will be paid by the Secretary of State for Health. The Secretary of State for Health will also be liable for the £35,517 costs incurred by the HSE in bringing the prosecution.

Speaking to news reporters after the hearing, HSE Inspector Wayne Owen issued a statement on behalf of the victim´s families. Mr Owen said: The families acknowledge the NHS Trust´s unreserved apology. The conclusion of this case goes some way towards bringing the closure that they all need”.

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Claim for the Failure to Treat Post-Surgery Complications Resolved Out of Court

A family is to receive a six-figure settlement of compensation in resolution of its claim for the failure to treat post-surgery complications.

On 28th April 2009, Tracy Hall (38) from Castleford in West Yorkshire underwent elective surgery for the reversal of a stoma at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. The surgery lasted nine hours, after which Tracy – who was diagnosed with Crohn´s disease in 1996 – suffered complications including internal bleeding and an infection.

Tracy´s wound opened several times and had to be washed out to prevent further infections, but her condition continued to deteriorate. On 4th May doctors noticed a significant amount of blood in her stoma bag. She was returned to theatre, where it was discovered that an artery had been cut and her abdominal wall had burst.

Following further surgery, Tracy – who had suffered with abdominal pain and lost nearly three stone in weight in the months prior to the surgery – was transferred to the hospital´s High Dependency Unit, where she was sedated and put on a life support machine. Tragically she died eight days later from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis.

Tracy´s husband instructed medical negligence solicitors to investigate the level of care his wife had received, and subsequently made a claim for the failure to treat post-surgery complications against the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust when it was discovered that there had be a delay in identifying and treating the complications.

It was also admitted by the NHS Trust that the surgery should have been delayed because Tracy´s Crohn´s disease was particularly active at the time. Tracy´s husband and the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust agreed on a six-figure settlement of the claim for the failure to treat post-surgery complications, after which Tracy´s mother, Carol, said:

“We have been completely heartbroken since losing Tracy – it was incredibly difficult for the whole family to see her suffer like she did and deteriorate so quickly in front of our eyes. We never imagined that just two weeks after surgery she would no longer be with us. I just hope that this doesn’t happen to any other families and that the NHS Trust learns from its mistakes.”

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Woman Settles Claim for the Failure to Acknowledge Medical Instrument Phobia

A woman, who had metal clips inserted during a thyroidectomy against her wishes, has settled her claim for the failure to acknowledge medical instrument phobia.

In 2010, Sylvia Ramsay (66) underwent an operation on her thyroid at the Spire Roding private hospital in Essex. Prior to the surgery, Sylvia had told consultant surgeon Akinyede Ojo that she had a phobia about medical instruments and surgical items being left inside her body.

Sylvia told Dr Ojo that she had heard from an another consultant that it was possible to conduct a thyroidectomy without the use of metal clips, and requested that he avoided the use of clips and used dissolvable stitches instead.

Sylvia came around from the surgery believing that the consultant surgeon had carried out the procedure in line with her wishes. However, a year later she saw a specialist after complaining of breathing difficulties. The specialist took an X-ray of Sylvia´s throat that revealed the presence of twenty-five metal clips.

“I can only explain the feeling as similar to when you have a near miss in a car accident, that jolt of panic, followed by feeling out of control” Sylvia told her local paper. The clips were eventually removed by a private clinic in 2013, but only after her GP had refused to help and Sylvia had undergone a significant amount of therapy in an attempt to come to terms with her phobia.

After seeking legal advice, Sylvia made a claim for the failure to acknowledge medical instrument phobia against Dr Ojo and the Spire Roding hospital. Dr Ojo denied negligence and said that the situation had occurred due to a misunderstanding. However, following a lengthy period of negotiation, a settlement of Sylvia´s claim was agreed without an admission of liability.

“I know this is not a rational reaction but it is not something I can control,” Sylvia said after her claim for the failure to acknowledge medical instrument phobia had been settled. “It’s like putting an arachnophobe into a room full of spiders and telling them not to be so silly.”

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Court Approves Settlement of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claim

The High Court in London has approved an £11.5 million settlement of young boy´s athetoid cerebral palsy compensation claim after a hearing.

The five-year-old boy from Brighton – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was born at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in March 2010, having been deprived of oxygen in the womb due to a failure by midwives at the hospital to notice his mother´s prolapsed cord.

As a result of being deprived of oxygen, the boy now suffers from four-limbed athetoid cerebral palsy – a condition that results in involuntary movements, epilepsy, sight issues and a speech impediment. Because of these issues, the boy will be entirely dependent on others for the rest of his life.

In 2011, the boy´s father made an athetoid cerebral palsy compensation claim on behalf of his son against the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust; alleging that if midwives had notice the prolapsed cord, and the boy had been delivered eleven minutes earlier, he would not have sustained such devastating injuries.

In November 2012, the NHS trust admitted liability for the boy´s birth injuries and an interim settlement of the athetoid cerebral palsy compensation claim was made while reports were being conducted into the child´s future needs. Earlier this week at the High Court, a care and rehabilitation package worth £11.5 million was approved in final settlement of the athetoid cerebral palsy claim.

Speaking after the approval hearing had concluded, the family´s solicitor said: “We are pleased that we secured this settlement for him and his family, they now have the financial security and reassurance that the costs for his future treatment will be met. We hope that lessons are learnt by the Hospital and their staff so that patient safety in this situation can be improved and each and every patient receives the best quality of care at all times.”

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