Out of Court Settlement of Compensation for Fatal Medication Errors

A family from Tyne and Wear have agreed to a settlement of compensation for fatal medication errors that contributed to the death of a mother of two.

Jean James (75) was a resident of the Maple Lodge Care Home in Sunderland who suffered from Alzheimer´s disease and had limited mobility due to severe arthritis. In December 2013, she developed a chest infection which quickly deteriorated, and she was admitted to the Sunderland Royal Hospital on December 24th.

Over the next few days, Jean´s condition improved as she responded to treatment, but on January 8th she suddenly died due to complications caused by deep vein thrombosis. The inquest into her death found that Jean had died of “natural causes contributed to by neglect”, and the coroner found four areas of concern in the care that Jean had been provided with.

According to the coroner´s report, the doctor responsible for Jean´s admission had been interrupted numerous times and had consequently failed to prescribe medication to eliminate the risk of blood clots. This oversight was not identified in any review by a clinician or nurse and, when a query was raised by the pharmacy, it was not properly communicated.

After hearing that the systems in place at the hospital to deal with human errors were inappropriate, Jean´s family claimed compensation for fatal medication errors against the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, who admitted that there were failures in Jean´s care and agreed an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with the family.

Speaking after the settlement of compensation for fatal medication errors had been announce, Jean´s husband John James said: “Although we have now settled the case with the NHS Trust, this was never about the money, we just wanted the hospital staff to take responsibility for what happened. We are relieved that changes have been made and we just hope that by taking legal action it will ensure that lessons are learned and that others will not suffer from similar failures in future.”