UK Doctor Medical Negligence

In the UK, the term “doctor medical negligence” can refer to any act or omission by a doctor which results in a loss, an injury or the deterioration of a patient´s health which was avoidable “at the time and in the circumstances”.

In order to show that “on the balance of probabilities” the medical negligence of a doctor resulted in an adverse event, your solicitor would request access to your medical records that would then be reviewed by an independent medical expert.

If the expert can find sufficient evidence of negligence – defined as any action or lack of action by a healthcare professional that deviates from the accepted standard of care in the medical community – then it should be possible to claim compensation.

The purpose of making a compensation claim for doctor medical negligence is not only to recover compensation. IT is often the only way to find out how a mistake was made and what – if anything – can be done to remedy it.

By making a claim for doctor medical negligence, it might also prevent the same act of negligence from being repeated in the future. Consequently, it is recommended that you speak with a medical negligence solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity if you believe you have suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to doctor medical negligence.

Claim for Negligent Heart Surgery Resolved after Surgeon Struck Off

A mother´s claim for negligent heart surgery has been resolved three years after her daughter died from brain damage sustained during the operation.

On September 24th 2003, Carrie Wright was just nine years of age when she underwent elective surgery at Leeds Royal Infirmary to repair a heart defect. During the operation Carrie was deliberately put into deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (DHCA) – a procedure that cools the body down so that work can be done on the heart without the patient suffering brain damage.

However, rather than limiting the period of DHCA to the maximum recommended forty-five minutes, Carrie´s surgeon – Dr Nihal Weerasena – kept her body in circulatory arrest for more than two hours, resulting in Carrie suffering severe brain damage. Due to her injury, Carrie was unable to walk or stand, had limited speech and was unable to live an independent life.

In 2014, concerns about Dr Weerasena was brought to the attention of the General Medical Council after Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had reviewed its paediatric care services and suspected the surgeon of a number of failings related to the care of seven children and one adult. In January 2017, he was found guilty of misconduct and struck off. Tragically Carrie died in December 2013 aged twenty.

Prior to the review of the standard of care at Leeds Royal Infirmary, Carrie´s mother – Dawn Clayton – had made a claim for negligent heart surgery against the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust, alleging that her daughter´s brain damage could have been avoided at the time and in the circumstances, and was attributable to Dr Weerasena´s negligence.

In the claim for negligent heart surgery it was argued that there was no justifiable reason for Carrie being kept in circulatory arrest for so long, as the surgery was not an emergency operation and Dr Weerasena had other options available to him. However, until the surgeon was found guilty of misconduct by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, the NHS Litigation Authority refused to settle the case.

Now Carrie´s mother is to receive £430,000 compensation in settlement of her claim for negligent heart surgery. She has also received an apology from Dr Yvette Oade, the Chief Medical Officer for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. In her apology, Dr Oade said:  “On behalf of the hospital I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of Carrie, and deeply regret that we failed to provide the standard of care that she and her family were entitled to expect”.

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NHS Settles Medical Negligence Claim for Undiagnosed Deep Vein Thrombosis

An NHS Hospital Trust has settled a medical negligence claim for undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis that resulted in the death of a mother of three.

On March 15th 2010, Alison Taylor (29) gave birth to her third child, a daughter – Yvie-Mae. A few days later, she was referred to the Maternity Unit of Leicester Royal Infirmary by a community midwife after complaining of cramps and swelling in her right leg.

On her arrival at the hospital, Alison – herself a healthcare assistant at the Leicester Royal Infirmary – shared her concerns with staff that she might be suffering from a blot clot. However registrar Dr Vijay Kumar Kalathy discounted DVT as a diagnosis, failed to conduct a blood test, and told Alison he was unable to perform an ultrasound scan on her leg because it was the weekend.

Alison continued to suffer with the pain and swelling in her right leg, and attended her GP – Dr Philip Hussey – on 31st March. Dr Hussey also misdiagnosed Alison´s condition as cramp and prescribed her painkillers. Tragically, Alison was found collapsed later that evening by her husband, and died in hospital the same night due to a pulmonary embolism caused by deep vein thrombosis.

The inquest into Alison´s death recorded a narrative verdict, although Assistant Deputy Coroner Robert Chapman noted that a scan at the Leicester Royal Infirmary could possibly have saved her life. The University of Leicester NHS Hospitals Trust has since acted on the Assistant Deputy Coroner´s recommendations and re-introduce weekend scanning in its Maternity Unit.

Following the inquest, Alison´s husband – Darren Taylor made a medical negligence claim for undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis, alleging that Dr Kalathy had failed in his duty of care by not following hospital procedures when the possibility of deep vein thrombosis exists. The NHS Trust refused to accept liability for six years, but has now settled the medical negligence claim for undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis for a six-figure sum.

Speaking after his medical negligence claim for undiagnosed deep vein thrombosis had been resolved, Darren told his local paper: “ It has been a long, hard seven years but I am happy we have got the NHS to own up and the trust says lessons have been learnt. Alison was a healthcare assistant so she was very aware of the risks of DVT. But the doctors seemed quite dismissive of her symptoms. If they had done what they were supposed to do Alison should be here now.”

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Claim for a Vasectomy on the Wrong Patient Likely after Errors Admitted

A claim for a vasectomy on the wrong patient is likely to be made against the Broadgreen Hospital in Liverpool following the admission of procedural errors.

In February 2014, the man – identified only as Patient A – was due to undergo surgery to have scar tissue removed, when he was brought into the operating theatre out of sequence and underwent a vasectomy procedure instead.

The error occurred initially due to changes being made to the operating theatre running order. The nurse responsible for the changes – Rosemary Tollitt – failed to advise colleagues of the changes or check Patient A´s identity as he was being taken into theatre.

However, the doctor in charge of the surgery – Dr Nanikram Vaswani – has admitted misconduct charges for failing to confirm the patient´s identity, not reviewing the patient´s medical notes and not following surgical checklists before commencing surgery.

Dr Vaswani has also admitted failing to inform the hospital authorities immediately after realising his error, and failing to keep notes of his conversation with Patient A after the operation – a conversation that led to an unsuccessful vasectomy reversal operation being attempted later in the day.

In addition to the procedural errors likely to be included in a claim for a vasectomy on the wrong patient, it is also the opinion of the General Medical Council that Patient A would not have been in an appropriate emotional state to give his informed consent for the vasectomy reversal procedure.

It is understood that Patient A has sought legal advice about making a claim for a vasectomy on the wrong patient against the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust. A spokesman from the General Medical Council said that the man had been “physically and emotionally traumatised” by the experience.

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Value of Claim for the Failure to Remove an Appendix Contested by NHS

The NHS is contesting the value of a claim for the failure to remove an appendix, made by a woman who was left infertile when her appendix burst.

In 2008, Sarah Marquis visited her GP complaining of severe abdominal pain. Sarah was admitted to Homerton Hospital in East London, where doctors treated her with painkillers for three days and overlooked that Sarah needed an emergency operation to remove her appendix. When the appendix was eventually removed, it was “gangrenous and perforated” and had burst – causing a severe abdominal infection that left Sarah infertile.

Due to her illness, Sarah took the next three-and-a-half years off from her £65,000 per year job with top London lawyer firm DLA Piper. She made a claim for the failure to remove an appendix in a timely manner against the Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The NHS Trust admitted liability for her injuries, but disputed the £1.5 million compensation Sarah was claiming – arguing that the value of her claim for the failure to remove an appendix was closer to £300,000.

The case is currently being heard at the High Court in London, where Judge Robert Owen QC was told that Sarah had to forgo opportunities to live and work in the USA because of the consequences of the hospital´s negligence. It was claimed that her earnings would have been considerably higher in the States, and that her dream of naturally conceiving a child with her partner had been taken away from her.

The NHS Trust´s barrister – Bradley Martin – read out an apology to Sarah in which it was acknowledged that hospital negligence had been responsible for her injuries. However, Mr Martin then questioned whether Sarah´s “burning desire” to have children would have overridden her desire to progress her career in the USA – or vice versa – and contested that she would have had one or the other of her desires come true – but not both.

The hearing into the contested claim for the failure to remove an appendix continues.

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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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London Hospital Found at Fault for Avoidable Death due to Medical Negligence

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has found the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust at fault for an avoidable death due to medical negligence.        

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman was asked to investigate the death of a 62-year-old woman at Imperial College Hospital in West London, after the unnamed patient had been discharged prematurely without the expected range of tests being conducted.

The Ombudsman found that mistakes were made in assessing the woman´s condition on her initial visit to the hospital. “Avoidable” errors were identified in her diagnosis and treatment and the patient was discharged despite the tests that were conducted showing inconclusive results.

The woman subsequently returned to the Imperial College Hospital on several occasions, complaining of abdominal pain and blood in her urine. Eventually she was admitted for an exploratory operation, but she died from blood poisoning due to sepsis before surgery could take place.

The Ombudsman was critical of the woman´s avoidable death due to medical negligence, and noted that there was a failure to treat the patient with antibiotics or to control the clotting of her blood before surgery. The investigation into the avoidable death due to medical negligence also found that the hospital´s complaints handling procedure was poor.

Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: “Our investigation found that because of a series of errors at a hospital a woman lost her life. Her husband told us that he has lost his best friend just before he and his wife were due to start a new life together. We hope our investigation and the action taken by the trust will reassure him that lessons have been learnt as a result of his complaint so that others are less likely to suffer the same experience.”

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Woman Awarded Compensation for Bowel Cancer Misdiagnosis

A Staffordshire woman is to £50,000 compensation for a bowel cancer misdiagnosis which resulted in the untimely death of her husband.

In 2009, Christopher Goodhead (41) from Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire died four years after his GP had diagnosed him with piles instead of identifying that he had bowel cancer. The correct diagnosis was not made until two years later; by which time Christopher´s cancer had spread and was terminal.

Christopher´s widow – Melissa Cutting – sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a bowel cancer misdiagnosis against Dr Asim Islam of the Stanstead Surgery in Essex – the GP who had misdiagnosed Christopher´s condition.

She alleged in her action that the correct diagnosis of bowel cancer in 2005 would have enabled her husband to receive treatment that would have saved his life.

Dr Islam denied negligence; contesting that Christopher would have died “on exactly the same day or not significantly later” even if he had been referred for specialist treatment after his first consultation.

However, Melissa argued that Christopher´s exceptional fitness would have given him a good chance of fighting the cancer had it been diagnosed years earlier.

The claim for compensation for a bowel cancer misdiagnosis went to the Royal Courts of Justice, where it was presented before Mrs Justice Patterson.

The judge heard medical experts give testimony on behalf of both parties, after which Mrs Justice Patterson found that Dr Islam´s misdiagnosis of bowel cancer had shortened Christopher´s life, but that it would have been fatal irrespective of when it was identified.

Mrs Justice Patterson awarded Melissa £50,000 compensation for bowel cancer misdiagnosis, commenting that Dr Islam´s sub-standard care had probably deprived Christopher four more months of life.

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Incorrect diagnosis of Lung Cancer Claim Successful for Family of Deceased Man

A family grieving the death of a husband and father have been awarded an undisclosed settlement of an incorrect diagnosis of lung cancer claim.

Mr Frank Golby from Whoberley in Coventry had been sent to Coventry University Hospital in May 2010 to have a CT scan after going to his family doctor with troubling cough. The CT scan showed a 1cm-wide nodule on his left lung, but doctors did not notice the signs of a deadly tumour and Frank was diagnosed with a chest infection.

Frank went back to the hospital in Coventry several times complaining of breathing problems and anaemia, but the original scan from 2010 was never reviewed. Finally when a chest x-ray on 17th February revealed that that the tumour on his lung had grown to five times its original size the correct diagnosis was made; but it was too late for Frank – who passed away the following day, at the age of 65.

His surviving family members sought legal advice and began a claim for the incorrect diagnosis of lung cancer alleging that, had the nodule been correctly identified in 2010 at a stage when the cancer was treatable, Frank would have lived for at least another ten years.

In the aftermath of a review of the negligent treatment Frank had received, his wife, son, daughter and two grandchildren were given an apology by the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and an undisclosed five-figure settlement of compensation for the incorrect diagnosis of lung cancer claim was agreed between the Trust and solicitors representing Frank´s family.

Read more about cancer misdiagnosis here.

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Compensation Settlement for Gastric Surgery Mistake Agreed

A female, who developed a hernia in her bowel after medical staff botched a gastric band operation, has agreed a compensation settlement for gastric surgery mistake against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust.

Rachel Benefer (28) from Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire underwent the stomach surgery procedure in 2007 after she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and her weight had gone up to over 19 stone (120Kg).

Doctors at the Classic Hospital in Hull were at first of the belief that the operation had gone off perfectly, but the failure to close an surgical incision in her stomach led to a hernia developing which caused a blockage Rachel´s small bowel.

Ms Benefer developed an abdominal wall inflammation and acute peritonitis due to the hernia and fell into a coma. She had to spend more than a month in hospital, including eleven days on a ventilator, and had to undergo a tracheotomy operation along with this.

Rachel sought legal advice once she had recovered and sought a compensation settlement for gastric surgery mistake against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust – claiming compensation for the extra surgery she had to have to repair the hernia she suffered, the ugly scars she now has on her abdomen and the depression she went through as a direct result of her trauma.

Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust conducted an internal examination and inquest into Rachel´s botched gastric band operation and, before her compensation settlement for gastric surgery mistake was settled out of court for £35,000.

This article is about medical negligence in the UK. Please refer to Medical Negligence Ireland for information related to Irish medical negligence cases.

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Cauda Equina Syndrome Misdiagnosis Admitted by Hospital

A Leicester hospital has accepted that the misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome by a junior doctor resulted in a patient suffering a life-long disability which could have been avoided.

The patient, 45 year old Michelle Chapman from Melton in Leicestershire, went to her GP in May 2007 complaining of numbness and incontinence, and was alerted to the possibility that she was suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome – a condition caused by the nerves being trapped between collapsed vertebrae. Michelle´s GP advised her to look out for symptoms of the condition deteriorating and to summon an ambulance if necessary.

Some days later, Michelle visited the Leicester Royal Infirmary where she was told by a junior doctor that there were no signs of the condition and was sent home. It was only when Michelle´s doctor contacted her to follow-up the initial appointment that he heard of the deterioration in her condition and immediately booked an MRI scan at the hospital. The scan showed that significant nerve damage had already occurred and that Michelle required an operation to prevent further injury.

Michelle had surgery to remove part of the discs which were pressing on her nerve, but the operation was too late to prevent Michelle suffering permanent nerve damage which has left her with numbness in her legs, incontinence and requiring the lifelong use of crutches to assist her with walking.

After seeking legal counsel, Michelle made a compensation claim for the misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome against the University of Leicester NHS Trust – the authority responsible for treatment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary – and an undisclosed out-of-court settlement was agreed between Michelle´s legal advisors and the Trust which will see Michelle able to move into a specially adapted home and receive specialist medical care to help her adjust to living with Cauda Equina Syndrome.

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