UK Injury Compensation News

In the UK, medical negligence claims can be made by anybody who has sustained an injury or loss due to the negligence of a medical practitioner who owed them a duty of care. Medical negligence claims in the UK have to prove that an avoidable injury was sustained or an existing condition deteriorated due to a breach in that medical practitioner´s duty of care.

Get advice on your entitlement to make UK medical negligence claims directly from a solicitor on our freephone injury claims advice service without obligation to proceed with medical negligence claims in the UK and in total confidentiality.

Widow Awarded Compensation for Misdiagnosis of Heart Attack

A grieving widow is to receive £100,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of a heart attack after her husband received inadequate treatment prior to his death in 2009.

Ian Jardine (58) died at his home in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, a week after attending the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn complaining of a crushing pain in his chest and a shortness of breath.

Ian´s condition was diagnosed as being musculoskeletal in origin, and he was advised to attend the hospital´s chest clinic if the symptoms persisted.

“Anxious” and “in considerable pain”, Ian twice visited his GPs surgery, but declined an ambulance to take him to hospital when he returned from the second visit on 19th June 2009. He died later that evening from a coronary thrombosis.

Ian´s widow – Sharon Jardine – made a claim for compensation for the misdiagnosis of a heart attack and, in April this year, Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust admitted that if Ian´s condition had been diagnosed correctly  he would have survived.

The settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of a heart attack was made with full admission of liability and an apology – a spokesperson for the hospital Trust saying “We wish to apologise to Mrs Jardine and her family and to extend our deep regret for the shortcomings in her husband’s care.”

Posted in Clinical Malpractice in the UK, Medical Negligence in the UK, UK Hospital Negligence, UK Wrongful Death Claims - No Comments »

Compensation for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Approved in Court

A young girl, who was brain damaged at birth due to medical negligence, has had a settlement of compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy approved at Leeds High Court.

Eight year old Ruby Curtis from Garforth in West Yorkshire was born at St James Hospital in Leeds on August 28th 2005, but had been deprived of oxygen in the womb when staff at the hospital failed to notice that her mother´s uterus had ruptured.

Due to the lack of oxygen, Ruby was born with athetoid cerebral palsy – a condition which affects all four of her limbs, her head and trunk, and causes involuntary muscular movements. Ruby needs assistance in all aspects of her everyday life, including personal care, education and feeding.

Although Ruby can make sounds, she is unable to speak and uses her eyes to communicate. Following her birth, Ruby´s mother gave up work to be her full-time carer and Ruby now attends the Percy Hedley School in Killingworth which specialises in educating children with cerebral palsy.

Ruby´s parents – Steve and Lisa – made a claim for athetoid cerebral palsy compensation after seeking legal advice and, following an eight year legal battle, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that mistakes had been made during Ruby´s birth and issued a formal apology.

At the High Court in Leeds, Judge Mark Gosnell was told that a settlement of compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy had been agreed, which will see Ruby receive £2.95 million as a lump sum payment to pay for her care, education costs and special accommodation near her school, with ongoing annual tax-free payments to provide the care Ruby needs when she reaches adulthood.

Approving the settlement, Judge Mark Gosnell said he hoped that the compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy would secure “a better family life for both you and Ruby” and that the apology made by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust would give them some sense of closure.

Posted in Brain Injury Compensation in the UK, Clinical Malpractice in the UK, Medical Negligence in the UK, UK Hospital Negligence - No Comments »

Medical Negligence Claims against the NHS Rise by a Fifth

New figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions have indicated that the number of medical negligence claims against the NHS have risen by almost a fifth in the past year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Compensation Recovery Unit is the government body responsible for recovering the cost of hospital treatment and selected state benefits from compensation settlements and, in 2012/2013, registered 16,006 medical negligence claims against the NHS compared to 13,517 in 2011/2012.

The annual number of claims against the NHS for medical negligence has now almost doubled since 2007/2008, leading the Chief Executive of the Patients Association – Katherine Murphy – to comment “I think the public has become far less tolerant about putting up with appalling failings in care, but most people only pursue legal action when every other avenue has failed.”

Her comments were mirrored by a leading medical negligence solicitor who was quoted as saying “In the past, victims of medical accidents often had moral reservations about claiming against the NHS, despite having clearly suffered extreme negligence in some cases, but the shocking findings of the Francis report have now made hospitals fair game in the eyes of the public.”

Although an increase in medical negligence claims against the NHS was no surprise in light of a series of breaking news stories concerning gross medical negligence in NHS hospitals, the size of the increase shocked Margaret Hodge – chairperson of the Commons Public Accounts Committee – who described the figures as “deeply worrying” and stated that the quality of healthcare provided by the NHS was a “major concern”.

A Department of Health spokesman said “Whilst we know the vast majority of patients get good, safe care, the best way to reduce compensation claims is to improve patient safety further – and this is a priority.” He added that the NHS has brought in a global expert, Dr Don Berwick, to provide advice on how to create “a zero-harm culture in the NHS” and reduce the number of medical negligence claims made against the NHS.

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Family Get Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Lung Cancer

A family grieving the death of a husband and father are to receive an undisclosed settlement of compensation for the misdiagnosis of lung cancer.

Frank Golby from Whoberley in Coventry had been referred to Coventry University Hospital in May 2010 for a CT scan after visiting his GP with a persistent cough. The scan showed a 1cm-wide nodule on his left lung, but doctors missed the signs of a deadly tumour and Frank was diagnosed with a chest infection.

Frank returned to the hospital on several occasions complaining of breathing problems and anaemia, but the 2010 scan was never reviewed. It was only when a chest x-ray on 17th February 2012 revealed that that the tumour on his lung had grown to five times its original size was the correct diagnosis made; but it was too late for Frank – who died the following day, aged 65.

Frank´s family sought legal advice and made a claim for the misdiagnosis of lung cancer on the grounds that, had the nodule been correctly identified in 2010 at a stage when the cancer was treatable, Frank would have lived for at least a further ten years.

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

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Compensation for NHS Brain Injury Awarded to Child

A thirteen year old boy, who developed cerebral palsy due to an alleged case of medical negligence, has been awarded £7.3 million compensation for NHS brain injury in an out-of-court settlement.

Robbie Crane (13) from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, suffered brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and epilepsy following surgery at Harefield Hospital in October 1999 to treat the congenital heart problems he was born with several days earlier.

Mr Justice Tugendhat at the High Court in London heard that the complicated artery ‘switch’ surgery was successful, but Robbie suffered brain damage in a 15-hour period after the operation because a ventilator keeping him alive had not been adjusted properly. Robbie’s injuries mean he will never lead an independent life or earn his own living. He has no sense of danger and needs intensive supervision at all times.

Through his parents – Barrie and Catherine Crane – Robbie made a claim for NHS brain injury against the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, alleging that his condition was a direct result of medical negligence. The NHS Trust denied liability for his injuries, but made an offer of compensation for NHS brain injury based on 70 percent of what Robbie would have received in full settlement of his claim.

Under the out-of-court settlement, Robbie will receive a substantial lump sum immediately as well as annual, index-linked and tax-free payments to cover the costs of his care for as long as he lives. With his anticipated life expectancy, the total compensation for NHS brain injury package is valued at £7.3 million.

Although Robbie´s settlement was agreed “out-of-court”, the award still had to be approved by a judge as it related to a legal minor. After hearing the circumstances of the case and the NHS Trust´s legal representatives acknowledge that “things could have been done differently and better”, Mr Justice Tugendhat approved the settlement of compensation for NHS Brain injury – paying tribute to Robbie´s parents for the devotion they had given their son.

Posted in Brain Injury Compensation in the UK, Medical Negligence in the UK, UK Child Injury Claims, UK Hospital Negligence, UK Severe Injury Compensation - Comments Off

Claim for Negligent Gastric Surgery Settled Out of Court

A woman, who developed a hernia in her bowel after doctors botched a gastric band operation, has settled her claim for negligent gastric surgery against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust.

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

Doctors at the Classic Hospital in Hull initially believed that the operation had been successful, but the failure to properly close an incision in her stomach led to a hernia developing which blocked Rachel´s small bowel.

Rachel developed an inflammation of the abdominal wall and acute peritonitis as a consequence of the hernia and lapsed into a coma. She spent five weeks in hospital, including 11 days on a ventilator, and had to undergo a tracheotomy.

After recovering from her ordeal, Rachel sought legal advice and made a claim for negligent gastric surgery against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust – claiming compensation for the further surgery she had to undergo to repair the hernia, the unsightly scars she now has on her abdomen and the depression she experienced as a direct result of her trauma.

Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust held an investigation into Rachel´s botched gastric band operation and, before her claim for negligent gastric surgery was scheduled in court, settled the case with a compensation payment of £35,000.

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Compensation for Fatal Hernia Operation Awarded to Widower

The widower of a woman who died following a “routine” hospital procedure has been awarded £150,000 compensation for fatal hernia operation in an out-of-court settlement.

Helen Blyth (79) underwent the hernia procedure at Northampton General Hospital in March 2010 after being diagnosed with a large hiatus hernia behind her heart border. Soon after 8.00pm on the evening of her surgery, Helen´s blood pressure fell and, at 1.00am the following morning, she was found unresponsive. Despite the best efforts of the emergency team, Helen died at 1.55am.

An inquest into Helen´s death attributed the decrease in blood pressure and subsequent cardiac arrest to a rare complication following surgery; however Helen´s husband – Sydney Blyth – asked solicitors to look more closely into the circumstances surrounding her death.

The solicitor´s medical expert discovered that the surgeon in charge of Helen´s hernia operation – Mr David Cubbon Hunter – had used Pro Tack staples during the procedure despite the manufacturer´s warning that the staples should not be used in circumstances such as Helen´s where the hiatus hernia was located in the diaphragm.

Helen´s family made a claim for fatal hernia operation compensation against Mr Hunter and the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, alleging that Mr Hunter both knew about the warning given by the manufacturers of Pro Tack staples and chose to ignore it or was not aware of the risks involved – in either case demonstrating medical negligence.

After an internal investigation, the Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability for the error which cost Helen Blyth her life and apologised. A settlement of compensation for fatal hernia operation amounting to £150,000 was negotiated between Sydney´s solicitors and insurers for the hospital.

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Compensation for Gynaecological Errors for Hysterectomy Patient

A woman who lost her child due to a medical error by staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital has been awarded £62,000 in compensation for gynaecological errors in an out-of-court settlement.

The unnamed woman attended the Royal Cornwall Hospital in November 2007 for a hysterectomy operation, during which it was discovered that she was fourteen weeks pregnant. The woman had not known that she was pregnant but, once her cervix had been removed, the continuation of the pregnancy was unviable.

Following an investigation into the tragedy it was revealed that the consultant gynaecologist – Dr Rob Jones – had noticed that the uterus was “abnormally large” but had continued with the procedure regardless. Dr Jones has since resigned and is being investigated by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists over the frequency of surgical complications during his procedures.

After seeking legal advice, the woman made a claim for gynaecological errors compensation against the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust stating that, had she known she was pregnant, she would never have gone ahead with the hysterectomy procedure. Although having suffered no physical harm, it was found that the patient had undergone a significant emotional trauma.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust admitted liability for an “inadvertent termination” and conceded that that the diagnosis of the pregnancy could and should have been made at the point when it was still viable to for the pregnancy to continue. After negotiating with the woman´s legal representative´s, a settlement of £62,000 in compensation for gynaecological errors was agreed.

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Hospital Admits Misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome

A Leicester hospital has admitted 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, visited 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 attended 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 telephoned 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 revealed that significant nerve damage had already occurred and that Michelle required an operation to prevent further injury.

Michelle underwent 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 advice, 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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Compensation for Delayed Treatment Awarded at Court

The family of a boy, who suffered brain damage due to being starved of oxygen prior to his birth, have had been awarded compensation for delayed treatment at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Joseph O´Reggio (11) from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, was born at the city´s New Cross Hospital in 2001 following an alleged failure by the hospital staff to monitor his mother – Rachel – during the later stages of her pregnancy. As a result of the alleged hospital negligence, Joseph was starved of oxygen prior to his birth and was brain damaged by the time he was delivered – later developing severe cerebral palsy.

Joseph´s parents made a claim for delayed treatment compensation on the grounds that the Joseph´s heart rate had fallen on the morning of April 14th 2001, but a specialist was not summoned until 10.00pm that evening. As a result of the delayed delivery, Joseph now requires 24-hour care and is unable to speak or feed himself.

In 2011, the High Court heard that Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust admitted that Joseph should have been born earlier, but would not accept full liability for his injuries. However, an agreement was negotiated in which the Trust would pay annual periodic payments amounting to an 80 percent valuation of a full compensation for delayed treatment settlement.

At the Royal Courts of Justice, the family heard that the package of compensation for delayed treatment amounted to 6 million pounds – based on Joseph´s anticipated life expectancy – and will be sufficient for the family to move into a specially adapted home with the specialist rehabilitation equipment that Joseph needs to develop his skills with hearing, sight, taste, touch, language and hand-eye co-ordination.

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Compensation for Mismanaged Birth Approved in Court

A woman, who was starved of oxygen at birth and has suffered a lifetime of learning difficulties, has had a settlement of compensation for her mismanaged birth approved at London´s Royal Courts of Justice.

Susanne Turner (45) from Wittersham in Kent was born at Buchanan Street Hospital in St Leonards-on-Sea after a delayed Caesarean operation due to neither a surgeon nor an anaesthetist being available to perform the procedure. As a result, Susanne was deprived of oxygen in the womb, unable to breathe independently when she was born and suffered severe brain damage.

Susanne´s parents – Christopher and Sandra – raised Susanne without assistance, and unaware that they were entitled to claim compensation for the mismanaged birth, until they read a magazine article which explained Susanne´s rights to compensation.

When they sought legal advice about their situation, Christopher and Sandra discovered that – as Susanne did not have the mental capacity to bring a claim for mismanaged birth compensation herself – they were still within the time frame allowed to sue the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority for the negligent situation which had occurred in 1967.

After reviewing the claim for mismanaged birth compensation, South East Coast Strategic Health Authority quickly admitted their liability for Susanne´s birth injury and, at the Royal Courts of Justice, issued a formal apology for the mismanagement of Susanne´s birth.

Approving the settlement of compensation for mismanaged birth, which will take the form of annual payments and a lump sum payment to pay for a specially-adapted home for Susanne, judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies paid tribute to Christopher and Sandra´s “love and devotion”. The settlement is estimated to be worth 4.2 million pounds and will provide Susanne with the care she needs for the rest of her life.

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Girl Awarded Negligent Heart Surgery Compensation by Court

A court in Pasadena, California, has awarded a woman who grew up with an avoidable heart condition due to “baffling” post-natal surgery one million dollars in negligent heart surgery compensation.

The woman, who was not named in court, was born in the Huntingdon Hospital in May 1979 with a heart defect. An operation the day following her delivery was intended to repair the septal wall which separated the left and right chambers of the heart; however the Los Angeles County Superior Court heard that during the operation the vena cava artery – the artery which carries de-oxygenised blood to the heart – was connected to the wrong side of the septal wall and, as a consequence, the flow of blood was directed into the heart´s left chamber instead of the right.

As a result of the surgical error, the girl grew up with permanent oxygen deprivation which caused hypoxia, physical disabilities and other health problems, and it was not until 2007 that the cause of the problem was identified. The court heard that the claimant underwent surgery shortly before her thirtieth birthday in 2009 to correct the problem, and subsequently sought legal advice about making a claim for negligent heart surgery compensation in relation to the initial error.

The defence for the negligent surgeon – Dr Alan Gazzaniga – argued that it was too late to make a claim for negligent heart surgery compensation according to the Statute of Limitations; however the claimant´s counsel successfully argued that the woman could not have been expected to known that her heart condition was the result of Dr Gazzaniga´s medical negligence prior to the discovery of the error in 2007 – with the claim subsequently made within the Statute of Limitations after the discovery of the negligent heart surgery.

In court, the physician who surgically corrected the heart mistake described Dr. Gazzaniga´s work in court as “baffling” and “incorrect” and along with two other cardiothoracic surgeons, a cardiologist, a paediatric cardiologist and a vocational rehabilitation specialist, testified that the woman´s heart condition and subsequent problems could have been avoided had it not been for the negligence of Dr. Gazzaniga.

After three weeks of litigation, the jury at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pasadena returned a verdict in favour of the claimant and awarded her one million dollars in negligent heart surgery compensation, having found Dr. Gazzaniga guilty of medical negligence by demonstrating a lack of skill – or the ability to demonstrate that skill – during the first surgical operation.

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Compensation Claims Likely Following Legionnaires Disease Outbreak in Scotland

Compensation claims for Legionnaires Disease are likely to follow the outbreak of the infection in the south-west of Edinburgh once it is established who is at fault for the conditions which have enabled the Legionella Pneumophila bacteria to flourish.

The spread of the potentially fatal infection – which has already been responsible for the death of one man and is suspected to have affected 61 other residents of Edinburgh – has been blamed on the cooling towers in the districts of Dalry, Gorgie and Saughton.

Although 16 cooling towers in the area have been identified as possible sources of the infection, as the Legionella Pneumophila bacteria which cause Legionnaires Disease travel in tiny condensation droplets from these towers, it is not even certain that any of these locations is the culprit for the development of the infection.

Medical experts in Edinburgh are optimistic that the number of people affected by the outbreak of Legionnaires Disease will peak this weekend following chemical treatments being carried out at the suspected locations but, with an incubation period of up to fourteen days, victims may still be coming forward – if the source has been successfully treated – for several weeks yet.

Experts have also made Legionnaires Disease claims that the cause of the outbreak is money-saving tactics employed by the companies who own the cooling towers. One expert was quoted as saying “Plumbing systems used to run at 60c, which was enough to kill it off. But now some hotels, hospitals and public buildings are cutting that back to 50c, which isn’t.”

The infection – which is contracted when tiny water droplets carrying the Legionella bacteria enters the lungs – displays initial symptoms similar to the flu virus. Tiredness, fever, headache and a dry cough develop into pneumonia or a lung infection from which one-in-ten people die. Unfortunately many hospitals are not equipped to test for and identify Legionnaires Disease at an early enough stage.

In the Republic of Ireland, doctors are required by law to test all patients displaying symptoms of pneumonia for Legionnaires Disease but, according to microbiologist Dr. Tom Makin, most doctors in the UK prescribe standard antibiotics in the first instance, and only consider testing for Legionnaires Disease as an alternative when the patient fails to respond to treatment.

Indeed, NHS Lothian has been criticised for failing to advise GPs about the confirmed cases of Legionnaires Disease until the beginning of this (bank holiday) week, despite the first case being diagnosed on May 25th and the outbreak being confirmed as a “cluster” on June 2. NHS24, the online service which provides self-help care advice for Scotland was also not informed of the outbreak until the beginning of the week.

35,000 Legionnaires Disease information leaflets have been distributed to Edinburgh residents located close to the suspected sources of the outbreak, and Dr Duncan McCormick, Chairman of the incident management team at NHS Lothian, admitted that there may be further fatalities. “We’re doing everything we can in terms of early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and intensive care, but I think we can’t rule out any further deaths at this stage.”

People diagnosed with the disease will be entitled to claim compensation for Legionnaires Disease once the source of the infection is established. Samples have been taken from each of the towers suspected of hosting the Legionella Pneumophila bacteria and the results of tests on these samples are expected within ten days.

Those misdiagnosed with pneumonia who are later correctly diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease may also be able to claim Legionnaires Disease compensation against their medical practitioner or NHS Lothian depending on the circumstances of their case. For current and individual legal advice, victims of the disease are advised to speak with a Legionnaires Disease solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.

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Paramedic Awarded Compensation for Negligent Brain Surgery

An ex-paramedic, who was left severely disabled after doctors removed the wrong part of his brain, has accepted a seven figure settlement of compensation for negligent brain surgery from the NHS Trust responsible for the error.

John Tunney (63) from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, underwent the operation in April 2008 after an MRI scan had revealed abnormalities around his pituitary gland. However, instead of removing the tumour, surgeons took away healthy tissue during the operation which resulted in John´s brain haemorrhaging.

The error left John partially blind and requiring 24 hour care. He later learned that the operation had not even been necessary as doctors had failed to check the results of a blood test which would have revealed that John was suffering from prolactinoma – a benign and common pituitary tumour which can be treated with tablets.

After taking legal advice, John – who worked for the West Midlands Ambulance Service as a paramedic for 23 years – made a claim for negligent brain surgery compensation against the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and, after an investigation, the NHS Trust admitted liability for the dual error.

John´s solicitors entered into negotiations with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust over how much compensation for negligent brain surgery should be awarded and, although details of the final settlement have not been released, a settlement in excess of one million pounds has been agreed.

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GMC Admits One-in-Twenty Prescribed Wrong Medication

Research conducted for the General Medical Council has revealed that one-in-twenty prescriptions issued by GPs contain an error – with the most serious cases being where a patient has been prescribed the wrong medication.

Researchers from Nottingham University looked at a sample of GP practices in England and found that where there were errors most were classed as mild or moderate – the most common errors being missing information on dosage and prescribing an incorrect dosage.

However, around one in every five hundred prescription items was judged to contain a serious error – with the potentially most damaging involving the prescribing of anti-inflammatory medicines without first checking if patients were at risk of a stomach bleed.

Despite the study revealing that GPs were also found to be failing to monitor blood tests and patients prescribed blood-thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Professor Tony Avery, Professor of Primary Health Care at the University of Nottingham said in his report “Few prescriptions were associated with significant risks to patients but it’s important that we do everything we can to avoid all errors.”

Chair of the General Medical Council, Professor Sir Peter Rubin, commented on the report by saying, “GPs are typically very busy, so we have to ensure they can give prescribing the priority it needs. Using effective computer systems to ensure potential errors are flagged and patients are monitored correctly is a very important way to minimise errors. Doctors and patients could also benefit from greater involvement from pharmacists in supporting prescribing and monitoring.”

As a result of the research, and a study in 2009 that examined the number of times patients were prescribed the wrong medicine by junior doctors in hospitals, the General Medical Council has increased its emphasis on correct prescription techniques in medical school curricula. However, for those patients who have suffered an injury due to being prescribed the wrong medicine, these steps are too little, too late.

If you have sustained a loss, injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to a prescription error, you should speak with a personal injury solicitor at the first possible opportunity about claiming compensation for being prescribed wrong medicine.

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Family to Receive Compensation for Misdiagnosis of Meningitis

The family of a six-year-old girl, who were told their daughter was well enough to return home when suffering from pneumococcal meningitis, are to receive an anticipated seven figure payout in compensation for misdiagnosis of meningitis.

Kate Pierce from Wrexham, North Wales, was just nine months old when she developed the infection and was taken to Wrexham´s Maelor Hospital. A junior doctor diagnosed Kate with viral tonsillitis and told her parents it was safe to take her home. When asked if they could have a second opinion, Kate´s parents were told that the advice of a senior doctor had been sought when it in fact had not.

Kate´s parents took the little girl home but, when her condition deteriorated further, returned to the hospital the following day. On their return Kate was correctly diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and transferred to Liverpool´s Alder Hey Children´s Hospital. However, Kate had already sustained severe brain damage and now suffers from chronic lung disease, severe epilepsy and is registered both blind and deaf.

The family took legal advice about claiming compensation for misdiagnosis of meningitis and sued the Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board for medical negligence – claiming that the severity of Kate´s condition could have been avoided if she had been diagnosed correctly. After an investigation into the allegations, Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board admitted 75 per cent liability for Kate´s injuries and, at Mold County Court, a judge heard that a compromise situation had been reached.

How much compensation for misdiagnosis of meningitis Kate´s family will receive will be decided at a hearing later this year.

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Compensation for Negligent Foetal Monitoring Approved in Court

An eleven-year-old girl, who suffered catastrophic injuries due to avoidable errors made prior to her delivery, has had a settlement of compensation for negligent foetal monitoring approved at London´s High Court.

Milly Evans from Cranwell in Lincolnshire was born at the Lincoln County Hospital on 1st March 2001, but shortly after her birth suffered a seizure which resulted in her developing cerebral palsy. Her injury was of such severity that Milly is now confined to a wheelchair, requires 24 hour care and communicates through sophisticated eye-gaze equipment.

The seizure was attributed to negligent observation shortly before the delivery which, if the baby’s heart had been properly monitored, would have shown that the foetus was distressed and Milly´s birth would have been brought forward – avoiding her catastrophic injuries.

Although United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability for Milly´s injuries, the amount of compensation for negligent foetal monitoring was contested and, due to the delay, Milly´s father – Andy Evans – had to give up his career as a Red Arrows pilot.

Sir Robert Nelson at the High Court heard that an agreement had now been reached on a compensation for negligent foetal monitoring package which consisted of a lump sum payment of 5.86 million pounds and lifelong annual periodic payments increasing over time to 204,000 pounds per year.

Speaking after Sir Robert Nelson had approved the settlement, the Evans family said that the money would be used to construct a specially adapted home which would be big enough for Milly to have access to all the rooms and include a hydrotherapy pool.

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Mother Receives Compensation for Windpipe Injury

A woman, who had to undergo a tracheostomy operation after a negligent doctor severed a nerve in her neck in a previous surgical procedure, has won an undisclosed settlement of compensation for windpipe injury.

Joanne Roche (42) from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, underwent the origin operation in February 2008 at the Scarborough Royal Infirmary when she was admitted for routine surgery to remove a thyroid gland. However, when she awoke from the anaesthetic, Joanne knew immediately that something was wrong.

The surgeon who had conducted the operation – Dr Nayef El-Bhargouti – had severed a nerve to Joanne´s vocal chords, which were blocking her airways, leaving her struggling to breathe whenever she lay back and unable to talk.

Although she was allowed to leave hospital, and even return to her part-time job as a health-care assistant, Joanne´s condition failed to improve. Four months after her initial operation she had to undergo a tracheostomy operation to insert a tube into her throat to enable her to breathe more clearly.

Joanne, initially had no intention of making a claim for windpipe injury compensation, but after the tracheostomy had been inserted, Joanne was unable to speak without placing a hand over the opening in her throat, has become more prone to infections and has to avoid family events – such as swimming – where there is a risk that water may get into her lungs.

After taking legal advice, Joanne made a medical negligence claim against Dr Nayef El-Bhargouti and the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Trust. In the course of constructing the claim, Joanne´s solicitors discovered that Dr Nayef El-Bhargouti was not skilled in thyroid surgery and her operation had been done in half the time it should have.

Joanne made a complaint to the General Medical Council, who suspended the doctor from practising. After such a clear indication of liability, the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust made an undisclosed offer of compensation for windpipe injury which Joanne accepted and which will enable her to afford special breathing apparatus so that she may enjoy swimming with her children once again.

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BBC´s Newsnight Makes Faulty Hip Replacement Claims

A BBC Newsnight report, prepared in conjunction with the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has made faulty hip replacement claims against the manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip replacement systems and accused the Department of Health of failing in its duty of care to almost 50,000 hip implant patients.

The program, which was aired last night on the BBC, claimed that problems with metal-on-metal hip implants had been known for many years, but no action had been taken to inform orthopaedic surgeons or patients, or to stop the use of faulty hip replacement systems in the UK. The report claimed that all “large head” (≥36mm) metal-on-metal hip replacement systems had a high failure rate due to friction between the ball and cup causing metallic ions to enter the blood stream and cause tissue necrosis and other complications.

Evidence of the claims was produced using the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement system as an example, which was introduced into the country without any clinical tests, and that was producing test results as early as 2008 which indicated up to fifty times the normal level of chromium in the blood streams of patients having to undergo revision surgery. It was reported on the program that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Tuesday around 49,000 patients in the UK were in a high-risk category due to potential system toxicity.

The MHRA – the Department of Health agency responsible for ensuring that medical devices work and are acceptably safe – was also attacked on the program for allowing the faulty hip replacements to be introduced into the UK without any clinical testing, and for accepting the recommendations of a benefit/risk assessment panel established in 2008 which included consultants and a director of product development from the faulty hip replacement manufacturing companies.

In response to the faulty hip replacement claims, Professor Sir Kent Woods – MHRA´s Chief Executive Office – said that there were fundamental differences between the way the drugs and medical devices were introduced into the healthcare market, and his agency would continue to work with the British Hip Society and British Orthopaedic Society to analyse the rate of wear of metal-on-metal hip implants according to the data collected on the National Joint Registry.

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Negligence Claims Against NHS Rise due to Increased Awareness

Increased awareness of patient rights has resulted in a dramatic increase in claims for medical negligence against the National Health Service (NHS). According to government figures, the number of claims made in the past five years has increased 5,697 to 8,655 per year, and has forced the NHS Litigation Authority to seek additional funding from the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansbury.

Tom Fothergill, financial director of the NHS Litigation Authority, admitted that marketing by “No Win, No Fee” solicitors had contributed to the public body´s financial shortfall and had added a premium to legal costs. However, he was also quick to point out that legislation which linked the wages of claimants´ carers to earnings rather than inflation has also led to increased payouts.

With approximately 100 claims for medical negligence a year relating to birth injury compensation, and the average value of each claim close to 6 million pounds in the lifetime of the child, an improvement in the survival rates of brain damaged babies – who will require a lifetime of care – has also placed significant strain on the NHS Litigation Authority´s budget.

A further 185 million pounds is required by the NHS Litigation Authority to prevent it running out of money by the end of the financial year, a sum which has been approved by Mr Lansbury and health minister Lord Howe. Following the announcement of the bail-out Lord Howe said “Following a review of claims, we have made additional funds available to the NHS Litigation Authority in order to make sure that those claimants who are entitled to compensation receive it in a timely way.”

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