Delay in diagnosis and treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
A 42 year old woman should have received earlier blood tests that would have prevented a delayed diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis of approximately 3 years. As a result of the advanced rheumatoid arthritis going untreated, she developed severe damage to her joints, particularly her hands, elbows and foot. She was restricted in the work she was able to carry out and needed more assistance from her family with day to day tasks. She would experience deterioration and with significant ongoing pain, became depressed. Liability was admitted and the case was settled for £165,000 on the basis of her symptoms and care needs having been accelerated by several years.
Serious and permanent disability through delayed diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
A lady in her 60s pursued a case against Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Her case had previously been rejected by another solicitor following preliminary investigations. We obtained independent expert evidence which criticised a failure to act on an x-ray in 2007. The x-ray displayed clear evidence of rheumatoid arthritis. A 7 year delay in diagnosis and treatment sadly caused permanent and disabling injuries. She sustained damage to multiple joints, deformities in hands and reduced mobility such that alternative single story accommodation was required. Extensive care would be required for the rest of her life.
Liability was denied throughout, but the case settled for over £700,000 at a round table meeting prior to a Trial.
Air embolism causing stroke and permanent brain injury during mitral valve repair
Our client was a gentleman in his 60s who underwent an operation to repair a valve in his heart. Complications occurred during the operation and a large amount of air was noted in the heart during the operation. The operation was technically complex and the manner in which the air was allowed into the heart was not entirely clear. Our independent experts were supportive of the case and concluded that the air could only have entered the circulatory system through negligence. Sadly they concluded that the air had travelled to the brain and caused a stroke. This led to significant cognitive difficulties which meant our client was unable to properly manage his financial affairs and lacked capacity. He had impairment of the following higher mental functions:-
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of initiation
- Difficulty with multitasking
- Difficulty with sequencing
- Difficulty with language function
- Impaired insight
- Impaired judgement
- Difficulty planning and decision-making
- Slow mental processing
Proceedings were issued against the private hospital, surgeon and anaesthetist. Although liability was strongly denied, the matter was eventually settled and the court approved a global settlement of £600,000.
Diabetes mismanagement causes permanent brain injury
We obtained supportive independent expert evidence which prompted Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to admit failures in care when treating our client (a gentleman in his 60s). They accepted failures in respect of:-
- Referring to the Diabetes Inpatient Specialist Nurses following his initial hypoglycaemic event
- Treating hypoglycaemic episodes according to Protocol
- Performing adequate blood glucose monitoring and ensuring that the patient was offered a snack
Unfortunately, as a result of the failures, our client went into a hypoglycaemic coma. He suffered from an acquired brain injury and a profound personality change which was understandably distressing for his family. His mobility was more restricted and he became aggressive, angry and frustrated, which was hugely different to his personality before with his family describing him as a funny, loving and engaging man. After approximately 2 years he died from an unrelated illness and his widow pursued a case which was subsequently settled for £57,500.
Damages for unnecessary lateral release operation
A 47 year old man underwent an unnecessary lateral release operation on his knee. It was alleged that the operation was unnecessary and that he had only been consented for a simpler arthroscopy operation. As a professional football coach, the gentleman was clear that he would not have agreed to the more complex procedure if it had been properly warned of the risks and benefits of the procedure. He suffered a prolonged period of recovery and his earnings were adversely affected. Whilst liability was denied by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, the matter eventually settled for £24,000.
Liability was admitted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust failed to act on scans at 34 and 36 weeks gestation which showed that foetal growth was restricted. It was admitted that earlier action would have avoided the subsequent stillbirth. Both the mother and father suffered significant psychological trauma in addition to enduring the stillbirth itself. The case was eventually settled for £57,000.
It was alleged that a breast implant had been negligently ruptured at the time it was inserted. This was not discovered for several months and the young lady suffered pain and distortion of her breast with associated psychiatric injury as a result. Revision surgery was eventually carried out privately around 15 months following the original procedure. The case was settled without an admission of liability and prior to the issue of court proceedings for £24,250.
Lack of informed consent for vasectomy
A GP claiming to have a specialist interest in vasectomy, had failed to warn of a risk of at least 5% of chronic/long term pain from a vasectomy. The gentleman was 52 when the vasectomy was carried out and maintained that he and his partner would have opted for alternative contraceptive methods if they had been properly warned of the risks of chronic pain. Due to complications a total of 4 operations were carried out, but unfortunately the operations were unsuccessful if alleviating the pain, which was anticipated to be permanent. The pain interfered with social activities, ability to work and the man’s sex life. Settlement was eventually agreed for £27,500 without an admission of liability.
Death linked to failure to provide gastric protection medication
A widower pursued a case in relation to his late wife who had suffered a perforated gastric ulcer leading to acute peritonitis and the need for emergency surgery. The lady deteriorated and the following year needed surgery on a hernia caused by the first surgery. She deteriorated further following the second operation and sadly died. Investigation revealed criticisms of the fact that Diclofenac had been prescribed for a long period of time without a drug to protect her stomach such as Omeprazole. This was particularly unwise due to the age of the patient who was in her 70s. A considerably amount of pain and suffering was attributed to the GP’s failure in the build up to the death. The Defendant denied liability but settlement was eventually agreed in the sum of £40,000.
Delayed diagnosis and treatment of Vitamin B12 deficiency
It was alleged that there was a delay in acting upon test results and symptoms relating to the Claimant’s Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Liability was admitted by the GP in question. The Claimant’s condition deteriorated rapidly leading to permanent peripheral neuropathy which affected his balance and severely affected his mobility. Treatment could have been given earlier in the form of Vitamin B12 injections which would have avoided the deterioration.
The gentleman became reliant on crutches to walk and was unlikely to ever return to his previous employment in the foundry industry. It was claimed that there would be ongoing need for additional care and assistance, physiotherapy, psychiatric therapy for depression and alternative accommodation. The case was settled a few weeks before trial for £750,000.
Sciatic nerve injury following hip replacement
A 60 year old lady underwent a total hip replacement but was left with a leg length discrepancy of over 2cm and injury to her sciatic nerve and “drop foot”. As a result she required a tendon transfer operation, but continued to have restricted mobility with a walking distance of approximately 100 yards. She had to take early retirement and lost earnings and pension entitlements as a result. Ongoing care, assistance and orthotics were costs were likely to be incurred. Liability was eventually admitted by the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and the case was settled for £215,000.
Fall in hospital contributes to death
It was alleged Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had failed to carry out adequate falls risk assessments for an elderly lady being admitted to hospital. She should have been noted as being at very high risk of falls and pressure sores. It was alleged that the 91 year old lady’s previous health problems were not given enough consideration. These included; Impaired eyesight, dementia with confusion, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, angioplasty left leg in 2002, CVA (stroke), anaemia, COPD and atrial fibrillation.
After being in hospital for 2 days the lady fell, fracturing her ankle. This was inoperable, given her frail state and she remained immobilised and deteriorated in hospital. She sustained pressure sores and eventually died about 7 weeks after her initial admission.
Liability was only partially admitted and the claim was eventually settled for £15,000.
Various allegations were raised in relation to an expectant mother’s management during pregnancy by North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust. For example, it was alleged that it should have been recognised the mother was suffering from gestational diabetes and that there a failure to use the McRobert’s procedure during delivery which would have made safe delivery of the baby much more likely.
Unfortunately the delivery was prolonged because of a shoulder dystocia and it was suggested that the failures all contributed to the eventual injury to the new-born boy. A brachial plexus injury was caused to the shoulder which caused restrictions in later life. In the future it was likely that there would be constraints with heavier lifting and more physical jobs such as in the armed forces would not be possible. Liability was denied but settlement was eventually agreed and approved by the court for £120,000.
Death following delayed referral for suspected bowel cancer
We were instructed by the daughter of a lady who sadly died at the age of 71. Altered bowel habit for more than 6 weeks in a lady over 60 should have warranted a referral under NICE guidelines by the GP/practice nurse. Unfortunately, a delay in referral for investigations and treatment meant that the cancer became more invasive and our experts concluded that this delay ultimately caused her death the following year. Had she been referred earlier, prompt surgery would have saved her life.
A case was pursued against a GP and nurse practitioner based in Leeds. Liability was initially denied although breach of duty was later admitted on behalf of the nurse practitioner. It was denied that the delay had caused the death, but the matter was subsequently settled for £45,000.
Delay in diagnosing and treating spinal fracture
It was alleged that Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust were negligent in failing to diagnose a vertebral fracture following a fall of approximately 15 feet from a ladder. The 53 year old gentleman was discharged the same day despite it being admitted that it being later admitted that spinal fracture was visible on the scans taken at hospital. It was alleged that the fracture subsequently deteriorated and that upon return to hospital, approximately 3 weeks later, the risks of any surgery were increased.
It was expected that there would be ongoing pain, restricted mobility and increased care needs as a result of the delay. The value of the claim was disputed, but settlement was eventually agreed for approximately £136,000 less repayments due to the Department for Work and Pensions.