Archive for July 2016

Family Seeks Legal Advice about Claim for an Undiagnosed Neck Fracture

The family of a man who died after a compression of his spinal cord went unnoticed is seeking advice about making a claim for an undiagnosed neck fracture.

On 23rd May 2015, Patrick Byrne (87) was admitted to the Royal United Hospital in Bath following a fall at his home in Melksham. Shortly after his admission, Patrick´s neck dropped onto his chest and he was unable to move it.

Despite pleas from his family to investigate the issue, Patrick was discharged to the Chippenham Community Hospital in June. He was readmitted to the Royal United Hospital following a further fall, but it was not until 6th July that a scan was organised for Patrick´s neck.

The scan revealed that Patrick had fractured his neck in the fall at his home and the fracture had resulted in his spinal cord being compressed. The compression of the spinal cord caused Patrick´s paralysis from which he never recovered. Patrick sadly died at the Royal United Hospital on 21st October.

A two-day inquest into Patrick´s death at Avon Coroner´s Court returned a verdict of death by natural causes despite coroner Peter Harrowing stating that Patrick was let down by numerous medical staff who failed to carry out proper examinations or act quickly when serious signs were identified.

A catalogue of faults in Patrick´s care emerged during the inquest. Weekend staff shortages, speculative diagnostic suppositions, poor record keeping and basic deficiencies in communication were said to have communicated to Patrick´s death. However, Mr Harrowing found the hospital’s care did not reach the point of negligence as he believed the paralysis and his eventual death were not preventable.

Family Describes Coroner´s Verdict as Bizarre

Patrick´s family have described the coroner´s verdict as bizarre and have engaged medical negligence solicitors to investigate the possibility of making a claim for an undiagnosed neck fracture. Speaking after the inquest hearing, Patrick´s daughter Elizabeth told the Wiltshire Times:

“The standard of care my father received fell well below what should have been expected and, if the neck fracture had been diagnosed earlier, he could have had treatment which would have avoided the paralysis and his last months would not have been as distressing. The evidence was there. There were a lot of failures.”

The solicitor has said that he will be reviewing the coroner´s findings and reporting back to the family with regard to the practicality of making a claim for an undiagnosed neck fracture. A spokesperson on behalf of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would once again like to offer our deepest condolences to Mr Byrne’s family at this difficult time. We acknowledge that we did not always meet our own high standards of care on this occasion and for this we apologise.”

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Liability Admitted in Claim for A&E Medical Negligence

An NHS Trust has admitted liability in a claim for A&E medical negligence made by a woman permanently disabled due to a misdiagnosis of cauda equina syndrome.

On 2nd June 2011, Michelle Turner (41) woke up with intense sciatica pain in her legs. Her condition deteriorated throughout the day and – barely able to stand – she attended the Accident & Emergency department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital later that evening. Doctors at the A&E department failed to conduct a thorough investigation of Michelle´s condition, and sent her home with a prescription for the muscle relaxant diazepam.

Three days later, Michelle noticed that she had wet herself while out on a walk with her partner and four children. She phoned her GP, who recognised the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome – a serious condition caused by the compression of the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord. The GP told Michelle to return to the A&E department, where she was admitted and underwent surgery the same day.

Despite the delay between initially attending the A&E department and undergoing surgery being just three days, Michelle is permanently disabled and incontinent. She can only walk with the support of crutches, and the condition has left Michelle “a former shadow of herself” and resulted in the breakup of a twelve-year relationship. In addition to her disability, she is on a pain management course to help her cope with day-to-day living.

After seeking legal advice, Michelle made a claim for A&E medical negligence – alleging that if the doctors in the A&E department had investigated her condition thoroughly, given her an MRI scan, a pin prick test or a rectal examination – all standard procedures for a suspected spinal condition – she would have undergone surgery sooner and not suffered such devastating consequences.

Following an investigation, the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability and issued Michelle with an apology “deeply regretting” the standard of care she received. Michelle´s solicitors are now in negotiations with the NHS Trust to settle her claim for A&E medical negligence based on the long-term care and equipment she will need to cope with her disabilities.

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