Hearing Continues in Claim for Negligent Spinal Abscess Treatment

A hearing at the London High Court to determine the outcome of a claim for negligent spinal abscess treatment is set to continue for the rest of the week.

The claim was brought following a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of a spinal abscess in 2009 at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. The claimant – who cannot be named for legal reasons – is paralysed from the waist down due to the delay, is confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care.

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability for the error, but are disputing how much the claim for negligent spinal abscess treatment should be settled for. Lawyers representing the NHS Trust argued in court that most of the costs for caring for the fifty-year-old claimant are the result of drug abuse since his teens – costs that the NHS Trust argues should not be their responsibility.

The claimant´s lawyer values the claim for negligent spinal abscess treatment at £3.4 million, but the NHS Trust says that its contribution to the man´s future care should be less than £1 million. The NHS Trust´s lawyers told the court that, since his confinement to a wheelchair, the claimant has continued his “chaotic” lifestyle and maintains the company of drug addicts and other “undesirable characters”.

The NHS´ lawyers also argued that it was the claimant´s responsibility to kick his drug habit and that it was a matter of public policy why the compensation being claimed should be dramatically reduced. In response, the claimant´s lawyers told the court that his client has a dependency disorder and it would be wrong to deny him the compensation necessary to support him and manage his disability.

The judge presiding over the case ordered that, due to the claimant´s vulnerability, nothing should be published that might identify him. The claim for negligent spinal abscess treatment has been scheduled for seven days and is expected to continue for the rest of this week.