Mar
24
2014

Back Injury Month- Medical Negligence

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Cause of Injury

What’s My Claim Worth have extensive experience in dealing with medical negligence compensation claims, in fact we have a dual qualified doctor/solicitor on the team to assess all our claims. Our team understands the issues affecting you, both physical and psychological, and we’ll fight to achieve the best outcome for you. Medical negligence is a broad term relating to an act or omission by a medical practitioner which causes pain or injury to the patient. This could include:

  • Delayed or failed diagnosis
  • Medication and pharmaceutical errors
  • Missed broken bones and fractures
  • Dental negligence
  • Injuries occurring in pregnancy and childbirth
  • Surgical errors
  • Accidents whilst being treated
  • GP errors

No matter what your circumstances are, if our medical negligence lawyers believe you have a strong claim, we will offer to persue on your behalf – whether against a private hospital or the NHS.

Delayed Diagnosis Negligence

A worrying report has indicated that breast cancer survival rates in the UK are lower than in other developed European countries. Delays in diagnosis and substandard care are being blamed for the alarming figures. The report has been carried out by Dr Laura Woods from the Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In 2010, another study claimed that breast cancer survival rates within the UK were not accurate due to data inputting errors and under reporting, but Dr Woods has questioned the reliability and plausibility of this study. She says that the errors in data inputting and reporting by pathologists and cancer registry staff would have to be grossly negligent to equate for the deficit in UK breast survival rates compared to those of other developed European countries.delayed-diagnosis

In our experience, it is not just breast cancer patients who experience delays in diagnosis and substandard care. One notable case, we successfully pursued a GP who repeatedly failed to refer an elderly client for investigation of a mole on her back, which was changing colour and shape. When the GP finally referred the lady, it was sadly too late for successful treatment and she passed away. Had she been referred sooner, as the GP should have done, she would have been likely to have had successful treatment and survived. We recovered the sum of £100,000 by way of compensation for the lady’s husband.

Do you have a potential medical negligence claim?

If you have been affected by a delay in the diagnosis of cancer or substandard care (poor care) of any kind of cancer, then you may have a claim for compensation. Please contact us for advice if you feel you have suffered any form of clinical negligence. Please note that there are strict time limits in place for making a claim for compensation, but our specialist clinical negligence solicitors will be able to advise you specifically on the facts of your own case.


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Case Studies

Mrs Henry had a long history of back pain but on 9th March 2009 this got worse in that she suffered more back pain and new symptoms of pins and needles in her leg and genitals. Mrs Henry was very worried about these symptoms and so attended A&E at her local hospital. The junior A & E doctor failed to carry out a thorough clinical examination, failing to test for problems with Mrs Henry’s spinal cord and instead diagnosed a flare up of her pre-existing back pain and discharged her home without any treatment or follow up.

Mrs Henry’s symptoms then got worse over the next day in that she found that she could not empty her bladder fully. By the next morning, Mrs Henry found that she had been incontinent of urine in bed without being aware of it and had worse pins and needles and numbness in her left side. The out of hours GP attended her at home and immediately diagnosed possible cauda equina syndrome, a severe disc prolapse in the spinal cord which is a medical emergency. The GP arranged for an ambulance to take our client back to the local hospital that morning where she underwent an MRI scan and the diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome was confirmed. Mrs Henry underwent emergency back surgery to treat the spinal injury.

Unfortunately, because of the delay in diagnosing and treating this injury, Mrs Henry has had a poor outcome from this operation in that has left sided weakness such that she cannot move and control her left foot and has numbness on the left side of her body, including her genitals. She also has bowel and bladder symptoms. Mrs Henry now needs to use a wheelchair for most of the time, even at home, whereas before this injury she did not need this. Mrs Henry really struggles to cope at home because her bungalow is not wheelchair accessible. As such, Mrs Henry has to rely on her friends and family very heavily to undertake all aspects of her daily life, including getting washed and dressed, cooking and cleaning. She even needs help to get in and out of a car because of her numb left leg.

 As a result of her disability, Mrs Henry sought legal advice from Quality Solicitors Oliver & Co who were able to help her with every step of her claim. With the assistance of Linda Schermer, our Head of Clinical Negligence and dual qualified as both a Solicitor and a Doctor, we were able to immediately accept instructions to help Mrs Henry. It was essential to get a good witness statement from Mrs Henry and the fact that the clinical negligence department has medical as well as legal expertise greatly assisted in obtaining this as we knew what questions to ask and what information was crucial to a successful claim. We obtained copies of our client’s records, took witness statements from her and her family and obtained supportive expert evidence from an A & E doctor who was of the view that the cauda equina syndrome should have been diagnosed when Mrs Henry initially attended A & E. We also obtained supportive neurosurgery expert evidence.

The expert was of the view that if Mrs Henry had undergone earlier surgery, she would have had a better outcome and would have avoided the bladder and bowel symptoms and the left sided weakness. She would not have needed a wheelchair in her home. As Mrs Henry’s disability was so severe, we obtained a report from an occupational therapist who was able to make recommendations for formal care for Mrs Henry, relieving the burden of her family having to provide this care. We also obtained a report from an architect regarding the suitability of Mrs Henry’s home and the architect recommended that she have a new bungalow adapted to meet her needs in a wheelchair, for example a kitchen that she could access to regain her independence. 

A report from a psychiatrist was obtained as the Mrs Henry struggled to cope with her new level of disability. The hospital initially denied that they had done anything wrong but undeterred, we continued to assist Mrs Henry by continuing with her claim and starting formal Court proceedings. At this stage, the Defendant admitted that they did not treat Mrs Henry in the way that she should have been and that they breached their duty of care to her.

An initial very low offer of settlement was made but this was not accepted as we felt strongly that Mrs Henry deserved a high level of compensation to reflect her disability. The claim therefore progressed through the Court process and Mrs Henry achieved a much higher settlement, obtaining £530,000.00. The money will make a huge difference in the Claimant’s day to day life as she is able to adapt her home to meet her needs and pay for care to assist her in every day activities so that she can enjoy her family’s company rather than needing them to help her.

 Testimonial

I am 100% satisfied with Mrs Liz Fry! She was brilliant throughout my claim and was always there for me. Mrs Liz Fry supported me 100% and she was always easy to contact which put my mind at ease. Mrs Liz Fry always made me feel like I had nothing to worry about and I would highly recommend her to my friends and family. 


There is Hope…

Patient safety should be high up in every medical professional’s list of priorities. However, there are times when your doctor or GP could miss vital signs of cancer, miss the presence of vital broken bones, prescribe the incorrect medication or even leave objects in your body after surgery “by mistake” (yes this happens believe it or not). 

So what do you do if you discover you’ve experienced medical neglect? Who do you turn to? Is there anyone that could give you advice? This week we’d like to shine the spotlight on a fantastic charity that puts patient safety and justice at the forefront. 

Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA)

Extract from the AvMA’s Website

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is the charity for patient safety and justice. As well as being passionate about our charitable mission, AvMA is committed to working in an ethical and open way.

Below, Peter Ransley, Founder of AvMA explains how it all began…

“Once upon a time there was a hospital where the doctors were all good and caring, and the nurses were all angels.  No, this wasn’t a fairy story, but its near relation, a television soap.  I wrote some episodes of a BBC series called Angels twenty years ago and brought up the revolutionary idea of a doctor making a mistake.

MF32159“Doctors don’t make mistakes”, the producer said

“We all make mistakes”, I protested

“Not on Angels”, she said

Nevertheless, after a bit of horse-trading, during which I agreed to concentrate on the really important subject of the episode, Belinda’s love affair, she relented.  I constructed a situation where there were two Mrs Browns on the ward and one of them was given the other’s drug by mistake.  As a result she has a stroke and will be unable to work again.  I made her a single mother with two dependent children.  Sarah, a student nurse, who witnesses the incident, knows that the effect on Mrs Brown’s life will be disastrous, but if she knew the truth, she could at least claim compensation.

Does Sarah tell?  I put the question to nurses on the ward of a teaching hospital where my wife worked as a social worker.  Their answers were the real moment when AvMA began.  Not one said she would.

I looked for a real case and found a Mrs Brown with two dependent children.  Her name was Stella and what happened to her was such an unbelievable nightmare I can still recall my anger when I taped her story, more than twenty years ago.

Stella went into the Whittington Hospital in North London for a routine sterilisation by keyhole surgery.  After the operation she was in considerable pain.  The doctor said it was due to paralytic ileus where the gut goes on strike and will not push the waste through.  It would right itself on its own accord.  In fact, much more seriously, her bowel had been damaged and blocked.  Her acute pain was denied by her doctor and nurses, until eventually she was rushed into where, by good fortune an expert bowel surgeon was on hand who saved her life.  The hospital denied liability for years, and it was only Stella’s persistence than won her compensation.

Her story, which I dramatised in a BBC play Minor Complications exposed the system for dealing with what are euphemistically called “adverse incidents” as a sham.  Her medical expert, when asked by Stella’s barrister if he would testify in court said he would, but it would not be necessary.  The hospital would pay.  The penny dropped for Stella, and for me when she told me.  There never had been a defence.  The hospital played the long legal game of denial, until the plaintiff got fed up, exhausted, ran out of money, or died.

It was as blatant as that.  When the play was first broadcast in 1980 it drew a number of people round our kitchen table, including a lawyer called Arnold Simanowitz, who shortly afterwards gave up his practice to begin AvMA with a prayer and a small grant from the GLC.  The rest is by no means history.”

To keep up with latest new stories and updates on AvMA, visit their website, Twitter and Facebook page below:

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