The family of a young girl who died due to hyponatraemia has settled their claim for medical negligence after an appendix operation against the Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.
In June 2001, nine-year-old Raychel Ferguson attended the Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry for what was supposed to be a straightforward operation to remove her appendix. Although the operation was successful, Raychel reacted to fluid from an intravenous drip which caused an abnormally low level of sodium in her blood to develop, and her brain cells to expand.
Raychel was rushed to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, but her reaction to the fluid was too severe for the injury to be treated and she died from hyponatraemia several hours later.
Raychel´s parents – Ray and Marie Ferguson – made a compensation claim for hospital negligence after an appendix operation against the Western Health and Social Care Trust following an investigation into Raychel´s death which revealed that she was one of four children who had died at the hospital where the incorrect administration of intravenous fluid was a contributing factor to their deaths.
Only last year did the Western Health and Social Care Trust admit liability for Raychel´s death and issue an apology to her family.
Ray and Marie Ferguson´s compensation claim for hospital negligence after an appendix operation continued, and was scheduled to be heard at the High Court in Belfast for the assessment of damages now that liability had been admitted. However, shortly before the hearing was due to get underway, it was revealed that the family had accepted an out-of-court settlement of their claim amounting to £40,000.
The relatively low settlement for the death of a child was explained as being higher than the statutory compensation limit of £11,800. Had the Fergusons pursued with their legal action, the High Court judge could have imposed the compensation limit, and therefore the offer of compensation for hospital negligence after an appendix operation was accepted by the Ferguson´s on the advice of their solicitors.