Investigation Supports Claim for a Loss of Sight after a Routine Eye Procedure

The outcome of a complaint made against the Cheltenham General Hospital supports a patient´s claim for a loss of sight after a routine eye procedure.

An investigation into alleged unsanitary conditions at the Cheltenham General Hospital was initiated after a patient complained about losing sight in one eye after an intravitreal injection – a routine procedure in which injections are made into the vitreous jelly-like area of the eye to deliver medicines close to the retina.

Following the treatment in December 2015, the patient developed endophthalmitis – an inflammation of the internal coats of the eye. Although endophthalmitis is a known complication of intraocular surgery, the man claimed that his loss of sight was due to the treatment room being used for general clinics in the morning, and not sufficiently cleaned afterwards.

The investigation into the patient´s complaint was conducted by senior managers at the hospital, infection control specialists and consultants. Although it was found that the room was cleaned prior to all injection clinics, the surface area around the sink was cluttered, and dust had settled on the theatre light and on several other surfaces.

It was also found during the investigation that – due to time pressure – trolleys were not properly dried after they had been sterilised, and clinicians were failing to leave iodine in the patients´ eyes for the recommended three minutes before commencing the procedure. Following the release of the report into the investigation, the patient made a claim for a loss of sight after a routine eye operation.

Speaking with Gloucester Live, the man´s solicitor raised concerns that other patients may develop endophthalmitis due to the unsanitary conditions at Cheltenham General Hospital. Up to 9,000 intravitreal injections are administered at the hospital each year and, despite an action plan being put in place after the investigation, the lawyer claims there are still cleaning issues in other treatment areas of the department.

Negotiations are ongoing to resolve the patient´s claim for a loss of sight after a routine eye procedure.

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HSE Settles Claim for the Avoidable Death of Savita Halappanavar

The Irish Health Service Executive has settled a claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar, who died from sepsis after being refused an abortion.

On the morning of Sunday October 21st 2012, Savita Halappanavar (31) attended the Galway University Hospital complaining of back pain. Unaware that Savita was suffering contractions prior to the miscarriage of her first child, doctors at the hospital sent her home.

Savita returned later that day, when doctors identified that her membranes were bulging and ordered blood tests. Savita was admitted for observation, but was told by the hospital registrar that the loss of her child was inevitable. Anti-biotics were prescribed to prevent an infection.

The following morning, Savita´s waters broke. An “await events” approach was adopted by the hospital, and when Savita asked for a termination on the Tuesday morning, her request was refused because a foetal heartbeat was still present.

By Wednesday, Savita´s condition had deteriorated significantly. She was diagnosed with sepsis and prescribed stronger anti-biotics but, when her condition deteriorated further, the decision was made to terminate the pregnancy. At this point it was discovered that the foetal heartbeat had stopped.

During surgery to remove the foetus, Savita spontaneously delivered her dead child. She was transferred to the hospital´s intensive care unit suffering septic shock, but she became critically ill and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest due to severe sepsis on Sunday October 28th.

Savita´s husband – Praveen – took his wife´s body back to India for burial and, on his return to Ireland, made a claim against the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) for the avoidable death of his wife, alleging that had an abortion been performed when it was first requested, Savita would still be alive.

The claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar attracted interest from all over the world due to Ireland´s abortion laws that acknowledge the right to life of an unborn child with equal right to life of the mother.

Two investigations were launched into the circumstances that led to Savita´s death – both finding significant failings in the standard of care provided by Galway University Hospital. In April 2013, the jury at the inquest into Savita´s death returned a unanimous verdict of death by medical misadventure.

Praveen subsequently left Ireland to pursue his career in the United States and, on his behalf, Praveen´s solicitor made an application for the claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar to be heard at the High Court.

A court date was set for March 10th but, days before the hearing was due to commence, it was announced that the claim for the avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar had been settled for an undisclosed six-figure amount.

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Woman Recovers Compensation for the Late Diagnosis of Cancer

A mother of two has recovered £50,000 compensation for the late diagnosis of cancer which resulted in her unnecessarily having chemotherapy treatment.

The unnamed woman from Swindon in Wiltshire visited her GP in March 2009 complaining of a persistent dry cough, a hoarse voice and a lump on the side of her neck. The woman – who had successfully been treated for breast cancer before in 2000 – was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Royal United Hospital in Bath.

At the hospital, the woman underwent a CT scan that indicated she may have cancer of the lymph nodes. However, a biopsy taken after the scan was too small for the preliminary diagnosis to be confirmed and, following a subsequent MRI on her neck, the woman was diagnosed with “idiopathic vocal chord palsy”.

The woman again visited her GP in July 2011 – this time with a larger lump on the left side of her neck, the same persistent dry cough and hoarse voice as before and pins and needles in her left arm. The GP arranged for his patient to have an urgent chest X-ray. The X-ray revealed breast cancer that had metastasised into the woman´s throat and left shoulder.

Six courses of chemotherapy managed to halt the spread of the cancer and resolve the pins and needles in the woman´s left arm, but such was her distress at having to unnecessarily undergo the invasive treatment, that she complained to the Royal University Hospital about the standard of care that she had received.

After the hospital denied that the standard of care she had received fell below an acceptable level, the woman sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the late diagnosis of cancer. An investigation commissioned by her solicitor found abnormalities in the 2009 MRI scan that “at the time and in the circumstances” should have prompted a second biopsy that would have enabled a correct diagnosis.

Despite legal action being threatened, the Royal United Hospital continued to deny its liability for the woman´s unnecessary chemotherapy treatment and refused to discuss a settlement of compensation for the late diagnosis of cancer. However, as soon as court proceedings were issued, the NHS Litigation Authority agreed to settle the claim for £50,000.

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Health Service Contests Value of Burst Appendix Claim

 

The value of a claim made by a woman who was rendered infertile because the NHS failed to remove her burst appendix is being disputed by the health service.

 

In 2008, the woman in question – Sarah Marquis – experienced severe abdominal pains and visited her GP. However, she was then admitted to Homerton Hospital in East London, where she was put on a course of painkillers. It was not noticed that Ms Marquis’ appendix needed to be removed. Eventually, doctors did remove the organ, but by that stage it was already “gangrenous and perforated”, causing such a severe abdominal infection that Ms Marquis was rendered infertile.

 

Ms Marquis’ illness meant that she could not return to work at DLA Piper, a top London law firm, for three-and-a-half years after her operation. After seeking legal advice, Ms Marquis made a claim for medical negligence compensation against the Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who oversee proceedings at the hospital where Ms Marquis was treated. Though the Foundation Trust admitted liability for the delay in removing Ms Marquis’ appendix – and her subsequent injuries – they contest the value for which she is making a claim. Ms Marquis is seeking compensation of £1.5 million, though the NHS say the value should be closer to £300,000.

 

The claim for medical negligence compensation proceeded to the High Court in London, where it was overseen by Judge Robert Owen QC. Ms Marquis gave evidence of how her life was changed by the burst appendix and subsequent infection, such as the missed opportunities she had to work in the United States of America, where she could have expected an increased salary. She will also never be able to conceive her own biological child.

 

The barrister for the NHS Trust, Bradley Martin, read an apology from the Trust to Ms Marquis, fully acknowledging that her injuries were their fault. However, he proceeded to say that he doubted that Ms Marquis’ “burning desire” to have children was compatible with her wish to move to the USA to advance her career, and posited that she would not have done both, choosing one over the other.
The hearing is due to continue later this month.

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Claim for Laparoscopy Negligence Resolved at Court

A claim for laparoscopy negligence has been resolved at a hearing of the High Court in London with the approval of a multi-million pound compensation settlement.

In March 2010, the claimant – who wishes to remain anonymous – was admitted to the Hope Hospital in Manchester to undergo a laparoscopy procedure to remove a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. At the age of 22, the woman worked as a hairdresser, was in a serious relationship and had an active social life.

However, during the laparoscopy procedure, the woman´s aorta was punctured. The patient suffered such significant blood loss that her circulation collapsed and her heart stopped. During the medical emergency, the woman´s brain was starved of oxygen and she is now permanently brain damaged.

Due to the brain damage, the woman is unable to represent herself legally and a claim for laparoscopy negligence was made on her behalf by her mother. In 2012 the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability and a hearing was scheduled to determine how much compensation for laparoscopy negligence the woman should receive.

Before the hearing could take place, a settlement of the claim for laparoscopy negligence was negotiated. The deal involved a lump-sum payment of £2 million plus annual index-linked payments for the rest of the woman´s life. Like all claims made on behalf of claimants unable to represent themselves, before the settlement could be finalized it had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently at the High Court in London, Mrs Justice Swift was told about the circumstances that led to the woman´s catastrophic brain injury. The judge heard how the claimant depends on a wheelchair for her mobility, has severe cognitive deficits and will always require 24-hour care. An apology was also read to the court on behalf of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.

Approving the settlement of the claim for laparoscopy negligence, Mrs Justice Swift commented that the claimant (now 27 years old) was generally cheerful and had a good sense of humour and said: “I hope that this substantial settlement will at least ensure she has the best possible quality of life in the years to come and I wish her and the other members of her family the very best for the future”.

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Costs Awarded against NHS after Nine-Year Cancer Misdiagnosis Case

More than £1 million pounds costs have been awarded against the NHS after a nine-year cancer misdiagnosis case was settled for £91,300.

In November 2006, David O´Reilly from Chichester in Sussex died from metastatic colorectal cancer – five years after a lesion in his colon was overlooked by a consultant conducting an endoscopy. A second medical opinion the following year misdiagnosed David´s symptoms as bowel cancer when there was still time to treat his condition and prolong his life.

Following David´s death, his widow – Sue – made a compensation claim against the NHS for the premature death of her husband and the emotional trauma she had suffered. Sue also had to move back to her family´s home in Australia so that she could get support caring for her youngest child – Shane – who suffered from cerebral palsy.

Once settled in Australia, Sue applied for the cancer misdiagnosis case to be heard in New South Wales. The NHS Trust objected to the transfer of the case, but – as Sue was unable to travel to the UK while caring for her son – the New South Wales Supreme Court agreed to Sue´s request in 2010. Sadly, soon after the medical negligence case got underway, Shane died due to complications related to his cerebral palsy.

With Sue now able to travel, the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust requested that the medical negligence case to be transferred back to the UK. The judge presiding over the case – Mr Justice Peter Garling – agreed to the application, and was made a temporary examiner by the Royal Court of Justice so that he could continue hearing the medical negligence claim in the UK.

When the medical negligence case was concluded, Judge Garling found in Sue´s favour and awarded her £91,300 compensation for the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust´s breach in its duty of care.  However, the legal costs of pursuing the claim had run into millions, and the NHS Trust contested that it should not be liable for the full amount.

A proposal was entered that the NHS Trust should only pay 25% of Sue´s legal fees – a proposal that would have bankrupted Sue if it was upheld. However, Judge Garling dismissed the NHS Trust´s argument, and awarded the full amount of the costs of the medical negligence case against the NHS for the misdiagnosis of cancer against the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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Landmark Case Changes Rules for Birth Injury Compensation Claims

A landmark case has potentially changed the rules for birth injury compensation claims when a mother is not given the level of risk associated with a specific course of action.

The case in question is Montgomery v. Lanarkshire Health Board, which was brought by Nadine Montgomery of behalf of her son Sam, who was born at the Bellshill Maternity Hospital in Lanarkshire suffering from a brachial plexus injury and cerebral palsy.

Despite everything being done at the hospital to ensure the delivery of a healthy child, Nadine claimed that she had not been given the option of a Caesarean Section delivery despite women suffering from Type 1 diabetes being more likely to have bigger children.

Nadine alleged that her consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist – Dr Dina McLellan – should have advised her of the risks of delivering her son naturally, especially as Nadine is only five feet tall and petite in stature.

Dr McLellan denied that she had been negligent in failing to offer the option of a delivery by Caesarean Section, saying it was “not in the maternal interests for women to have Caesarean Sections” when there was not a “a high probability of a grave outcome”.

When the case went to the Outer House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, judges heard that there had only been a 9% – 10% chance of Sam suffering shoulder dystocia during his delivery, and Nadine´s claim against NHS Lanarkshire was dismissed. Nadine appealed to the higher Inner House of the Court of Session, but her case was also dismissed.

Undeterred, Nadine took her case to the Supreme Court in London, where a panel of judges overturned the Edinburgh courts´ interpretation of the rules for birth injury compensation claims and awarded Nadine £5.25 million compensation.

In a written verdict Lord Kerr and Lord Reed commented “There can be no doubt that it was incumbent on Dr McLellan to advise Mrs Montgomery of the risk of shoulder dystocia if she were to have her baby by vaginal delivery, and to discuss with her the alternative of delivery by caesarean section.”

The judges also stated that there was no medical evidence to support Dr McLellan´s statement that it was “not in the maternal interests for women to have Caesarean Sections” and said that social and legal developments “point away from the relationship between the doctor and patient based on medical paternalism”.

Changing not only the rules for birth injury compensation claims but also the course of future doctor-patient relationships and what might be considered as “informed consent”, the judges added “it would be a mistake to view patients in the modern world as uninformed, incapable of understanding medical matters or wholly dependent upon a flow of information from doctors.”

The Supreme Court ruling is significant inasmuch as patients will now have the right to be advised of all possible treatments and to decide for themselves the levels of risk they are prepared to accept – a ruling welcomed by Niall Dickson – the Chief Executive of the General Medical Council – who said “We are pleased that the court has endorsed the ­approach advocated in our ­guidance on consent. [Doctors] must work in partnership with their patients, listening to their views and giving them the information they want and need to make decisions.”

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Settlement of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy due to Hospital Negligence Approved at High Court

A settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence – estimated to have a value of £10 million – has been approved by a judge at the High Court in London.

Ayla Ellison was born in April 2007 at the Furness General Hospital, after having been starved of oxygen in the womb and suffering devastating birth injuries. Now seven years of age, Ayla suffers from severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. She is almost completely blind and has to be fed via a tube. Ayla also experiences dreadful and painful muscle spasms, for which the only remedy is to be immersed in a hydrotherapy pool.

On their daughter´s behalf, Daniel and Carla Ellison from Ulverston in Cumbria claimed compensation for cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence from the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. The NHS Trust acknowledged liability in 2012 and admitted that errors had been made in the management of Ayla´s birth. The NHS trust started making interim payments of compensation for cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence while an assessment into Ayla´s future needs was conducted.

When a settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence was agreed, the case went to the High Court in London for approval. At the High Court an apology was read to the family by David Walker – the Medical Director of the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust – in which the NHS Trust said it sincerely regretted the injuries that Ayla had suffered and the distress caused to her family.

Mr Justice Warby heard that, as part of the settlement, the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust had agreed to fund the purchase a home in Richmond so that Daniel could continue his job in the capital as a consultant engineer and remain close to his family. The remainder of the settlement included a lump sum of £295,000 and annual tax-free, index-linked payments for the extent of Ayla´s life – a settlement with an estimated value of £10 million.

The judge approved the settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence and commended Ayla´s parents for the “calm and intelligent” manner in which they had coped with their daughter´s birth injuries. Mr Justice Warby also commented “I have no hesitation in accepting that the stated intention of Daniel and Carla Elliston to move to London to build a new family life there is a sincere, genuine and heartfelt one.”

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Family Claims Compensation for a Kernicterus Birth Injury due to a Failure to Treat Newborn Jaundice

A family from Devon is claiming compensation for a kernicterus birth injury which left their son brain damaged and needing life-long care.

Khan Gold from Honiton in Devon was born at the Exeter Hospital on April 15th 2013 – a perfectly healthy child although, not uncommonly, suffering from jaundice. He was allowed home with his mother Laura-Faye the following day, and was visited by three different midwives over the next four days who assured Laura-Faye that Khan´s continuing jaundice was nothing to worry about.

However, on April 20th, Laura-Faye noticed that her son was arching his back as if in pain. She was advised to bring him into the hospital, where Khan was diagnosed with kernicterus and transferred to intensive care. Khan was given an immediate blood transfusion, but the bilirubin that Khan´s underdeveloped liver had failed to remove from his blood stream had entered his brain and he is now permanently brain damaged.

Khan is likely to be severely disabled and need care for the rest of his life. Doctors are uncertain whether the little boy will ever be able to walk or talk and – after taking legal advice – the family made a claim for compensation for a kernicterus birth injury against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust on the grounds that the only advice they were given by midwives prior to Khan´s admission to hospital was to expose him to the sun.

In their claim for compensation for a kernicterus birth injury, Khan´s parents allege that midwives failed to follow NHS guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice and should have escalated the situation in a timely way to the family´s GP or the hospital paediatrician. Solicitors representing the Gold family have also suggested that there were training issues at the hospital which need to be addressed.

Angela Pedder – the Chief Executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – has written to the family apologising for the failures which led to Khan developing kernicterus. Since Khan was diagnosed with the illness, key changes have been made at the Exeter Hospital which include that all babies born with jaundice should be tested for kernicterus.

Negotiations are ongoing in respect of the family´s claim for compensation for a kernicterus birth injury, with the final settlement expected to be in seven figures.

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Compensation Claim for Perineal Tear Injury Resolved Out of Court after Two-Year Wait

A woman´s claim for a perineal tear injury has been resolved out of court after an NHS Trust denied its liability for the injury for more than two years.

In February 2010, Dalia DuMaurier gave birth to a daughter at the County Hospital in Stafford. Dalia´s pregnancy with Isabeau had been trouble-free and healthy, but unfortunately during the delivery process Dalia suffered a perineal tear.

The tear was noticed by the consultant physician attending Dalia and repaired; however, within the following months, Dalia developed complications such faecal incontinence, a rectovaginal fistula and a parastornal hernia.

Having to now wear a colostomy bag and receive regular treatment for her injuries, Dalia (30) from Rising Brook in Staffordshire was forced to give up a career in nursing. She also had to undergo therapy to help her cope with the changes in her lifestyle.

After a medical investigation, the cause of the complications was identified as an inadequate repair to the perineal tear. Dalia took legal advice and made a claim for a perineal tear injury against the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, alleging that she would not have suffered the complications had the tear been adequately repaired at the time.

The NHS Trust denied its liability for Dalia´s injuries for more than two years until an independent enquiry revealed that in all probability Dalia´s injuries were caused by the consultant physician either stitching the wrong location or failing to spot a second tear.

Negotiations began to resolve Dalia´s claim for a perineal teat injury and a settlement of £390,000 was agreed out-of-court to compensate her for her avoidable injuries. The settlement will be held in a personal injury trust to account for the cost of Dalia´s ongoing treatment.

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