UK Medical Negligence News

Blood Poisoning Baby Compensated with 5,000 Pounds

The parents of a new-born baby daughter, infected with deadly bacteria during birth, have received compensation after Epsom Hospital admitted negligence in her care.

The mother, Alexandra Carter of Banstead, Surrey, was known to be a carrier of group B streptococcus bacteria, yet doctors failed to prescribe her with the appropriate antibiotics to prevent the transmission of the infection to her daughter, Imogen, during birth.

Imogen, who is now 23 months, was initially treated for jaundice after her birth and then transferred to a special care baby unit at the hospital. She was put through a series of invasive procedures, such as a lumbar puncture to check her spinal fluid, had to receive intravenous doses of antibiotics and be put in a UV cot to treat the jaundice.

Both Alexandra and Imogen were discharged after a week of treatment, but within five weeks Imogen was back in hospital again with blood poisoning due to the group B streptococcus infection. Fortunately, she suffered none of the regular symptoms associated with the infection – brain damage or loss of hearing – and is now in good health.

Suing the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust through her parents, Epsom Crown Court approved the compensation settlement of 5,000 pounds for Imogen, plus 1,000 pounds in out-of-pocket expenses for her parents. Imogen’s compensation will remain in court until she is eighteen.

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Soccer Schoolboy 1.7 Million Pounds Compensation Approved

A young teenager, who suffered brain damage while playing football on a school playing field, was been awarded 1,7 million pounds in compensation for his injuries.

Rees Ashwell-Ross was just seven years of age in December 2004, when he was injured in a clash of heads during an after school game of football at St. Peter-at-Gowts Primary School in Lincoln. At home that evening, he started vomiting and was getting severe headaches.

His mother, Lisa, called the National Health Service out-of-hours service, but Rees was only hospitalised the following morning after suffering a massive seizure which left him with permanent brain injuries.

In the claim against West Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust, the High Court in London heard how Rees’ devastating injuries could have been avoided had the out-of-hours service acted appropriately and sent a doctor to examine Rees on the night of the incident.

Instead, Rees was diagnosed with an extradural haematoma along with a ruptured meningeal artery which required emergency surgery to save his life. Rees now experiences mobility difficulties, struggles to communicate and faces the rest of his life being transported by wheelchair.

The West Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust admitted liability after Rees sued through his mother and the sum of 1.7 million in compensation for medical negligence was agreed.

Wishing Rees and his family good luck for the future when approving the settlement, Judge Foster commented “I’m very pleased to be able to approve this settlement, which seems to me soundly based and generally in Rees’s best interests”.

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Operation Debris Leads to 350,000 Pounds Compensation

A 36-year-old man has received 350,000 pounds in compensation after part of a latex surgical glove was left in his throat following hospital surgery.

Wayne Williams, from Tooting, London, was admitted to St. Georges Hospital in South West London for heart surgery in June 2006, during which a tracheotomy was performed to enable him to breathe.

Following the surgery, Wayne experienced difficulties breathing and was referred back to the hospital for throat surgery, during which surgeons discovered a small piece of latex left behind in his trachea.

The latex debris was admitted to not only have been the cause of Wayne’s breathlessness, but had also permanently scarred his vocal chords.

St. George’s NHS Healthcare Trust admitted liability for medical negligence and the compensation settlement of 350,000 was agreed.

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Deadly Drug Blunder Led to Patients Death

The family of Albert Matthews, 65, formerly of Broseley in Shropshire, have agreed a 15,000 pounds compensation settlement with the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust, after they admitted medical negligence which led to Mr. Matthews’ death.

Mr Matthews had been admitted to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford in September 2006, complaining of a shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with pneumonia in his upper lung, hospitalised and given Tramadol and Haloperidol.

His condition continued to deteriorate, and several days later he was administered with 4mg of the painkilling drug Lorazepam. The cocktail of painkillers and sedatives sent Mr Matthews into respiratory arrest, which lead to cardiac arrest and he died the next day.

In the case against the hospital, it was claimed that these three drugs were known to affect breathing when administered together, and that Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust had failed in their duty of care towards Mr. Matthews.

The Trust initially denied the claim – stating that appropriate medical treatment had been given – but have now admitted that the combination of drugs did lead to Mr. Matthews’ premature death and have apologised to the family as well as agreeing to a compensation payment of 15,000 pounds.

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Undisclosed Compensation for Undiagnosed Brain Tumour

A former Church of England assistant minister, whose brain tumour was left unattended for three years, is to receive a substantial out of court settlement for medical negligence.

Adrian Underwood, 42, from Birmingham, had been studying a theology course in Nottingham in 2001, when he started to suffer severe headaches. He was referred to Nottingham University Hospital, where he underwent a brain scan which revealed a growth inside his skull, but no further action was taken and Adrian was discharged – being told he had nothing more serious than a migraine.

Adrian was unable to finish his course – moving back to Birmingham to take the position of a curate. However, his health continued to deteriorate, and it was during a medical investigation in 2004 to determine why Adrian was losing his sight that the much enlarged brain tumour was noticed after a scan at Birmingham Eye Hospital.

An emergency operation removed a tumour the size of a lemon, which had forced down upon Adrian’s brain and formed a lump in his head. Adrian now suffers from regular fatigue and epilepsy as a result of this oversight – medical conditions which could have been avoided if the tumour had been removed after the initial scan.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability but did not add any further comment.

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University of Michigan Medical Error Disclosure Program Decreases Claims

According to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine, medical negligence claims have fallen significantly at the University of Michigan Hospital since the facility introduced a Medical Error Disclosure Program.

The University of Michigan introduced the Medical Error Disclosure Program back in 2001 in an attempt to reduce the volume of medical negligence claims being made against the facility by patients who had suffered a loss, an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition due to a poor professional performance.

At the time, the hospital was receiving more than 250 pending medical negligence claims a year which placed a significant financial burden upon the hospital – not only in terms of compensation settlements, but also in the cost of legal representation and court fees. Now, the number of medical negligence claims received by the hospital has fallen to less than 100 – with additional savings in the legal costs of defending a claim – due to the hospital´s Medical Error Disclosure Program.

Under the program, medical staff are encouraged to acknowledge when mistakes have been made, inform the hospital authorities and apologise to patients. The hospital has introduced a system whereby medical staff can inform the hospital of potential problems and “near misses”, and suggest changes that would avoid similar issues in the future.

As well as implementing many of the staffs´ suggestions, hospital authorities meet with claimants and their legal representatives at an early stage of litigation, admit where mistakes have occurred and work with the claimant and his or her legal representative to achieve a mutual resolution about how the mistakes can be rectified. Often this approach has resulted in claimants dropping their medical negligence claims.

Hospital authorities noted in the report that if patients do not get an explanation of their care, they frequently feel they were not treated appropriately. By using the Medical Error Disclosure Program – and implementing changes when mistakes have been identified – the average rate of new claims per 100,000 patient encounters fell from 7.03 to 4.52, with the average monthly rate of cases that progressed to court falling from 2.13 to 0.75.

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