Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence Newsletter – May 2014

We are pleased to present the May 2014 edition of our Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence Newsletter from the Clarke Willmott claims team.

Our aim is to provide you with a brief overview of key developments and issues in the field of serious injury and clinical negligence.

If there are any issues you wish to discuss further, please contact a member of our team by calling free on 0800 316 8892.

Meningitis Research Foundation – Trustee Appointment

We are pleased to announce that Stephen Trump, Partner in our personal injury department, has been appointed as a Trustee by Meningitis Research Foundation.

Stephen is looking forward to working with his fellow Trustees.

Baby Lifeline Training – Medico-Legal Issues for the Maternity Team

The clinical negligence team are pleased to support Baby lifeline Training, which aims to promote safety for mother and baby and improve excellence in the provision of maternity care in the UK.

Anna Neil spoke to delegates at the Anatomy of Clinical Negligence Claims training day held in Bristol last month. Delegates attended from a number of NHS Trusts around Bristol and the South West and included Doctors, Midwives and Health Managers. This course aimed to provide health workers involved in the provision of maternity care, with an understanding of the law and legal process underpinning negligence claims. It was also a fantastic forum for exploring the impact of negligence and negligence claims on clinicians and claimants. The course explored what causes patients to pursue complaints and claims and how some complaints and claims could be avoided with open discussion and honest candour on behalf of clinicians when mistakes are made.

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Mental Capacity – Reviving Settled Cases

A recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Dunhill v Burgin has raised the possibility of long settled cases being re-opened, in circumstances where it has subsequently been found that the Claimant lacked mental capacity to provide consent to accept a damages award in a case at first instance.

Joanne Dunhill sustained a head injury in an accident in 1999. She settled her claim for damages, at the door of the Court, in 2003 in the sum of £12,500.

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South West Hospitals fail to meet infection targets

After several years of falling hospital infection rates, the news that The Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Trust Treliske Hospital and Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital have missed their infection control targets for 2013/14 comes as a surprise and a concern for patients. In both cases Clostridium Difficile infections accounted for the failure, with Derriford recording 34 cases against a target of 25 and RCHT exceeding its target of 20 by more than 100% with 41 recorded cases. All other South West hospitals were within required limits.

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Failure of diagnosis by GP and A&E

Case report

When a 30 year old attended her GP complaining of headaches and tiredness, she was not initially surprised to be turned away with a diagnosis of an unspecified virus. When she went back to the GP twice more and attended the local hospital A&E Department in the meantime, with worsening symptoms, including neck pain, nausea and most distressingly, loss of vision, she and her family were deeply concerned at the lack of action taken. Various suggestions that she had flu, sinusitis or a migraine appeared to ignore the symptoms of which she complained. No further investigations were recommended. It was only after consulting an optician, who immediately realised the seriousness of her situation, that she was admitted to hospital as an emergency, initially with a suspected brain tumour. Whilst that fear proved unfounded, she was suffering from a rare and damaging condition, intercranial hypertension, resulting in a permanent reduction in her vision of 80%.

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