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 clinical misdiagnosis of meningitis.
Kate Pierce from Wrexham, North Wales, was just nine months old when she developed the infection and was brought to Wrexham´s Maelor Hospital. A junior doctor diagnosed Kate with viral tonsillitis and told her parents it was permissible 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 had not been.
Kate´s parents took Kate but, when her condition deteriorated further, returned to the hospital the following day. Upon their return Kate was correctly diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and transferred to Liverpool´s Alder Hey Children´s Hospital. However, Kate had already sustained serious brain damage and now suffers from chronic lung disease, severe epilepsy and is registered both blind and deaf.
The family sought 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 examination of 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 medical negligence Kate´s family will receive will be decided at a hearing later this year.
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 hospital negligence 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.”
A woman who had her stomach erroneously removed after being misdiagnosed with cancer has won her hospital medical malpractice claim and received an undisclosed settlement from Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust.
The 74-year-old woman from Rugeley, Staffordshire, underwent the operation in 2004 after doctors told her that a tumour in her stomach was malignant. Later ahw discovered from support medical staff that her test results had been misinterpreted and that the tumour was benign.
As a result of her operation and the subsequent long recovery period the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has lost a significant amount of weight and suffers from painful digestive problems. She has been unable to continue in the voluntary work she did before the operation and now requires regular care and assistance.
The undisclosed out-of-court hospital medical malpractice claim settlement has been calculated to include the psychological trauma of being told that she had a life-threatening tumour inside of her and the deterioration in her quality of life due to the unnecessary surgery. It will enable the woman to receive a higher level of care in the future and support to help her recover from her emotional experience.
A couple from Staffordshire have been awarded an undisclosed hospital medical malpractice settlement after their son coughed up a tube which had been left in his throat following a surgical procedure.
Claire Thomas of Cannock, Staffordshire, had just given birth to her son, Owen, at the Stafford Hospital in February 2007 when the incident occurred. It had been a difficult birth, and because he had experienced should dystocia during the delivery, an endotracheal tube had been inserted into his throat to enable him to breathe.
Due to the birth issues, Claire and Owen were still in the specialist care unit at Stafford Hospital ten days later when Owen started choking. Claire slapped him on the back, and Owen coughed up the six inch tube which had been left in his throat after the surgical procedure.
After taking legal counsel, Claire and her husband, Kevin, filed a hospital medical negligence claim against the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which has now been resolved for an undisclosed sum. Owen, their son, has fortunately suffered no long-term consequences as a result of the hospital mistake.
A renowned magician, whose doctor´s overlooked a severed tendon in his hand which threatened to end his career, has been awarded 15,000 pounds in an out-of-court settlement of his wrong diagnosis compensation claim.
Kyle Summers (40) from Burbage, Wiltshire, had attended the Accident and Emergency Department of the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton after a cup he had been cleaning broke in his hand. Doctors at the hospital took an x-ray of Kyle´s left hand to ensure that there was no china lodged in his thumb and then stitched the wound up and allowed Kyle to return home.
When Kyle started to experience difficulty performing his normal magic tricks, he decided to have the hand looked at by his GP, but because the notes made at the hospital indicated that there was no damage to the tendon – even though the cut on Kyle´s thumb had been deep enough to reach the bone – the GP and a physiotherapist decided that the tendon had swollen.
It was after an additional check-up six weeks later that the true cause of the problem was identified. Kyle had to undergo two operations to insert a rod in his wrist and attach a thicker tendon before the injury began to heal. Only after months of intense specialist physiotherapy did Kyle regain the dexterity in his hand to enable him to work again.
After seeking legal counsel, Kyle sued the George Eliot NHS Trust for medical negligence and, in an out-of-court settlement, received 15,000 pounds for the missed diagnosis of his severed tendon.