Compensation Claim for a Stillborn Birth due to Hospital Negligence Resolved Out of Court

A compensation claim for a stillborn birth due to hospital negligence has been resolved out-of-court for an undisclosed five-figure amount.

In October 2009, Katie Page from Droitwich in Worcestershire was a week overdue for the birth of her first child. Katie´s pregnancy had progressed normally, despite being identified as “high risk” due to a family medical history of thrombosis. Indeed, Katie herself suffered from Factor V Leiden thrombophilia, and an inducement of her baby had been arranged for a few days later.

During the night of October 5th/6th, Katie experienced mild contractions and a subsequent reduction in her baby´s movements. The following morning Katie telephoned the Day Assessment Unit (DAU) and was told to drink plenty of cold water and contact the hospital later if she was still concerned.

That afternoon, Katie again experienced mild contractions but still no movement from her baby. She telephoned the hospital once again and was told to call back later with an update. Shortly after midnight, Katie´s husband – Robert – telephoned the hospital to say that his wife was experiencing constant pain and he was told to bring Katie to the hospital.

However, rather than being seen by an obstetrician, Katie was attended by a midwife; who performed a vaginal inspection rather than conduct a CT scan and sent Katie home again – even though her inducement was booked for a few hours later. At 9.00am in the morning, Katie called the hospital once again to enquire about the inducement, and was told that no beds were available.

Several more attempts throughout the day proved no more successful and at 7.00pm that evening Katie went to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital requesting that she be admitted. At 9.45pm Katie was eventually admitted onto a labour ward, but an assessment of her condition did not take place until 11.15pm – when a midwife could not find the foetal heart beat and summoned the obstetric registrar.

Ultrasound scans confirmed Katie´s worst fears – that her child had died in the womb – but she still had to endure a prolonged induce labour the following morning to deliver her stillborn son – which Katie and Robert named Harry.

After seeking legal advice, Katie and Robert made a compensation claim for a stillborn birth due to hospital negligence – claiming that had Katie been admitted when she had first contacted the hospital, Harry might have been delivered safely and survived. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability for Harry´s avoidable death, and the undisclosed settlement of the couple´s compensation claim for a stillborn birth due to hospital negligence was negotiated.

Read More

Settlement of Claim for Brain Damage Caused by a Hospital Infection Approved in Court

The settlement of a claim for brain damage caused by a hospital infection has been approved at the Royal Court of Justice in favour of a thirteen-year-old girl.

Ayesha Canning-Kishver from Coventry in the West Midlands was born at Birmingham City Hospital in July 1999 thirteen weeks prematurely. Weighing only 1lb and 12 ounces, and suffering from mild periventricular leukomalcia, Ayesha was transferred to the special neonatal care unit within the hospital, where she seemed to be making a recovery from her condition over the following week.

However, while she was in the neonatal care unit, Ayesha contracted staphylocoous epidermidis and klebsiella – both hospital “superbugs which are caused by bacteria entering the body via the medical devices that were keeping Ayesha alive. Because of her illnesses Ayesha almost died, and she suffered brain damage while she was being resuscitated after being starved of oxygen.

Ayesha will now need around the clock care for the rest of her life; and, on her daughter´s behalf, Shahana Kishver made a compensation claim for brain damage caused by a hospital infection against the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust – claiming that a breach in the hospital´s duty of care led to a delay in Ayesha´s symptoms being diagnosed and appropriate action taken.

The NHS Trust denied its liability for Ayesha´s injuries, and contested the claim for brain damage caused by a hospital infection – arguing that medical staff at the hospital were blameless for Ayesha contracting the superbugs and suffering brain damage, and that the injuries were attributable to Ayesha being born prematurely.

In 2008, a High Court hearing found that the NHS Trust was indeed liable for Ayesha´s injuries and the claim for brain damage caused by a hospital infection was adjourned so that reports could be compiled on Ayesha´s future needs.

At the Royal Court of Justice this week, Mr Justice Neil Butterfield heard that a settlement had been agreed upon that will see Ayesha receive a lump sum compensation payment of £1.3 million immediately, with annual tax-free and index-linked payments of £70,000 until Ayesha reaches the age of eighteen – when they will increase to today´s equivalent of £90,000.

After hearing an apology read to the family by a representative of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust, Judge Butterfield approved the settlement – commenting that “this should not be viewed as a lottery win – rather it will be used to fund the lifetime of care that Ayesha will need”.

Read More

Report Finds Admission of Hospital Negligence Reduces Number of Claims

A report into the University of Michigan´s Medical Error Disclosure Program has found that an early admission of hospital negligence reduces the number of compensation claims made against the hospital.

The University of Michigan Hospital adopted the Medical Error Disclosure Program in 2001, at a time when it was receiving up to 250 hospital negligence claims each year due to a patient suffering an injury or the avoidable deterioration of an existing condition.

Under the program, staff are encouraged to report potential problems and “near misses” so that steps can be taken to address issues that might lead to claims of hospital negligence in the future. Staff are also encourage to admit to patients and hospital authorities when avoidable mistakes have occurred, so that the hospital can act quickly to contact the patient and attempt to find a resolution without litigation.

By approaching patients at an early stage with an apology and a potential solution, the hospital has found that the early admission of hospital negligence has resulted in potential hospital negligence claims being dropped. By explaining what went wrong – and what can be done to rectify the situation – the hospital believes that patients feel they have been treated appropriately and are less inclined to sue.

In cases where patients have already engaged solicitors, the hospital authorities are willing to meet with both the patient and the solicitor in an attempt to find a reasonable solution in the shortest possible time. The admission of hospital negligence in these cases does not always result in a compensation settlement and the hospital now reports that is receives fewer than 100 claims for hospital negligence compensation each year.

By implementing the Medical Error Disclosure Program and suggestions made by medical staff, the average rate of new hospital negligence claims per 100,000 “patient encounters” has fallen from 7.03 to 4.52. In addition to saving costs with fewer hospital negligence compensation settlements to pay, the University of Michigan Hospital also saves of legal fees and litigation costs – with the average number of cases going to court each month having fallen from 2.13 to 0.75.

Read More