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Medical Negligence

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News of new sepsis test is good news but increased awareness is still essential

It was announced in February that a new sepsis test, which promises to diagnose the potentially life-threatening condition within three minutes, would be available on the NHS within the next three to five years.

The new test has been developed by scientists at Strathclyde University in Glasgow who are confident that it “could save thousands of lives”.

According to The UK Sepsis Trust, sepsis kills 52,000 people per year. National guidelines set out by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) advise that medical professionals should provide antibiotics to patients even before a sepsis diagnosis is confirmed.

It currently takes up to 72 hours to diagnose sepsis however, timely treatment can prevent this serious condition from developing into further complications such as multiple organ failure.

The symptoms to be aware of in adults include:

·         A high temperature

·         Chills and shivers

·         A fast heartbeat

·         Fast breathing

More severe symptoms can also include the following:

·         Dizziness or feeling faint

·         Confusion or disorientation

·         Nausea or vomiting

·         Diarrhea

·         Not passing water over a prolonged period

·         Cold, clammy, pale or mottled skin

We are sadly seeing too many cases where sepsis treatment has been delayed due to medical professionals failing to follow the national guidelines leading to avoidable patient deaths.

While some of the symptoms of sepsis are very similar to other conditions, the NICE guidelines clearly state that antibiotics should be provide in a timely fashion - even if sepsis is suspected but is yet to be formally diagnosed.

Our specialist team of leading medical and legal specialists have represented families for more than 20 years, including several recent sepsis cases.

If you believe that your family has suffered significant harm or an avoidable death as a result of medical negligence, our friendly team of specialists are here to help on 01253 766 559.

Read more about the sepsis cases we have acted on below.

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Sepsis - knowing the symptoms of this potentially life-threatening condition

February was sepsis awareness month in parts of Cumbria. A potentially life-threatening condition, sepsis is the body’s strong reaction to an infection and if not treated quickly, can lead to organ failure and death.

According to the NHS, there are more deaths as a result of sepsis than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined. Recognising the symptoms early is vital, as is administering timely antibiotics within one hour of sepsis being suspected.

National guidelines set out by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) advise that antibiotics should be provided even before a sepsis diagnosis is confirmed.

We recently representing the parents of a 15-month-old girl who died from sepsis as a result of medical negligence. Her well informed parents suspected that she was suffering from the condition as soon as they took her into hospital and they repeatedly asked medical staff when she would be given antibiotics over a 16-hour period.

Sadly, the hospital involved failed to listen and failed to act leading to her entirely preventable death just two days later.

According to the UK Sepsis Trust, 25,000 children are affected by sepsis every year and five people die as a result of the condition every hour in the UK.

Sepsis is entirely treatable if caught early and antibiotics are provided quickly in line with the national NICE guidelines.

Symptoms include:

·         High fever

·         Skin looks mottled, bluish or pale

·         Body is abnormally cold to the touch

·         Fast breathing

·         A rash that doesn’t fade when pressed

·         Fits or convulsions

·         Repeated vomiting

·         Not passing urine for 12 hours

·         Not feeding

Our specialist team of leading medical and legal specialists have represented families for more than 20 years. We have recently acted for several families when medical professionals failed to recognise and failed to respond to sepsis symptoms in line with national guidelines - with devastating consequences.

If you believe that your family has suffered significant harm or death as a result of medical negligence our friendly team of specialists offer free initial advice on 01253 766 559.

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Liverpool inquest starts following the alleged preventable death of 15-month-old girl

An inquest into the alleged avoidable death of 15-month-old Evie Crandle has started in Liverpool.

Evie had been taken to Whiston Hospital, in Merseyside, at 11.40am on 14th April 2018 with a high fever of 39.8C. She was refusing her breakfast and was vomiting. Her lips were alternating in colour between pink and blue and she was lethargic.

Medical staff dismissed her parents repeated queries, both on arrival and throughout that day, regarding a sepsis diagnosis and repeated requests for Evie to be given antibiotics.

Medical staff discharged the family at 4.30pm with Evie only provided with ibuprofen and calpol up to this point despite several tests and symptoms indicating sepsis. Evie’s parents brought her back to hospital within two hours because they were so concerned.

Evie was only given IV fluids more than 15 hours following her first admission when her condition had significantly deteriorated and she died two days later at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where she had been transferred following an admission into critical care.

Evie’s parents, 31-year-old Sam McNeice and her partner 35-year-old Phil Crandle, said: “Evie was our beautiful little girl and she made our lives perfect. We celebrated what would have been her 2nd birthday less than three weeks ago with family and friends enjoying her favourites of pizza and ice cream.

“We still can’t believe that she has gone and we cry every single day. We were very aware of the symptoms of sepsis when Evie suddenly became ill. We asked the nurse immediately on arrival at Whiston Hospital whether Evie had sepsis but she reassured us that she was not concerned about Evie and that she probably had a urine infection.

“Evie met the criteria to start the sepsis pathway at triage but this didn’t happen. Evie’s condition continued to get worse throughout the day and we repeatedly asked medical staff if she had sepsis and when she would be given antibiotics but this was ignored. Several tests were carried out verifying the presence of an infection and her body temperature was so hot that we had her stripped and in front of a fan at one point. Her hands and feet were very cold and we were very clear in our minds that she had sepsis but no one acted on this until it was too late.”

Representing the family at the inquest medical negligence lawyer Diane Rostron commented: “This is a truly tragic case. Evie’s parents were very well informed about the symptoms of sepsis and had persistently tried to alert staff. Despite Evie’s health clearly deteriorating and various tests showing that she was suffering from an infection, the family were sent home only to return a little over two hours later as further signs of sepsis became present.

“It is incredible that by 8.30pm that evening that Evie had still not been given the urgent treatment that she required. Her parents were instead advised that medical staff planned to give her intravenous fluids but that no one was available to administer the treatment.

“Phil and Sam were so desperate that Phil even offered to help with the procedure himself. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has very clear sepsis guidelines in place. The NICE guidelines clearly recommend that within one hour of sepsis being suspected, and even before a definite diagnosis, antibiotics must be given.

“Several medical staff at Whiston Hospital were involved in the care of Evie that day and all failed to follow the national guidelines resulting in what we believe was Evie’s entirely avoidable death.

“We look forward to the Coroner’s findings and sincerely hope that the NHS Trust now puts urgent measures in place to ensure not only that all its staff are adequately trained in recognising sepsis symptoms, but also that the Trust ensures that all staff adhere to the NICE guidelines. The staff not only failed to follow the national guidelines, but also failed to follow the Trust’s own guidelines.”

Sam and Phil continued: “We are now expecting our second daughter and feel absolutely terrified. Evie was born at Whiston Hospital but we will be having our second child elsewhere as we can’t face being anywhere near there and have serious concerns about the staff. We need to know why the hospital ignored the national sepsis guidelines and its own protocols and why our daughter is no longer with us.”

Evie’s parents are being supported by child bereavement charity Love Jasmine and the bereavement team at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

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Catalogue of errors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital leads to the avoidable death of a six-year-old girl

Recent news of the preventable death of an autistic six-year-old girl following multiple missed opportunities to properly diagnose and treat her, is sadly an incident that is becoming all too common.

The girl’s parents reported that medical staff had treated them with ‘arrogance’. The parents also stated that the medical professionals involved had blamed their failings on the little girl being ‘uncooperative and non-compliant’.

Suffering with diarrhoea and other symptoms which should have prompted a simple course of rehydration treatment with intravenous fluids being administered, instead, hospital staff failed to follow guidelines and her condition developed into sepsis.

This tragic story is not an isolated incident. All too often we hear clients who have suffered following medical negligence at different hospitals across the country tell us that medical staff simply did not listen, they did not follow the guidelines in place to prevent these incidents, they did not provide proper care.

For this family, and all those who have suffered with significant injuries or who have lost a member of their family due to medical errors, recognition of the mistakes made and regret over the loss suffered goes some way to easing the pain.

To suffer the loss of a child is every parents’ worst nightmare. To have those whose care a child’s health was entrusted not only fail in their medical duty to deliver safe patient care, but to subsequently also fail to show accountability for their devastating mistakes and go as far as blaming the child, is incomprehensible.

It has been reported that staff were responsible for no less than 13 separate failings, including a delay in providing antibiotics when the presenting symptoms suggested that she had developed sepsis.

A life-threatening condition, the administration of antibiotics in a timely fashion as soon as sepsis is diagnosed is vital. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that antibiotics must be given within an hour of sepsis being suspected and diagnosed. The symptoms of sepsis can be found here.

Our team of medical and legal specialists offer more than 20 years’ experience in dealing with medical negligence incidents. We listen when other professionals have failed to do so. If you, or your family, have been significantly injured as a result of medical errors, contact a member of our friendly team on 01253 766 559 or email a summary of the circumstances to dr@addies.co.uk

For more information on the families we have already helped, click here.

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 Errors made during maternity and neonatal care continue to take lion’s share of medical negligence payouts

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Errors made during maternity and neonatal care continue to take lion’s share of medical negligence payouts

Medical negligence compensation has risen four-fold across the country to £1.6 billion during the 10 years up to 2016/17 according to figures from the National Audit Office.

Maternity and neonatal care represented 10% of all claims in 2016/17 but accounted for half of the total compensation awarded.

While the Department of Health pledges to “…halve the rates of neonatal deaths, stillbirths, maternal deaths and brain injuries caused during or shortly after labour by 2025”, medical errors continue to devastate lives.

Small delays in taking appropriate action during the critical period before, during and shortly after childbirth, can lead to lifelong disabilities.

These cases are thankfully rare however, when mistakes are made during the period when mother and baby are at their most vulnerable, the effects last a lifetime - changing the lives of entire families.

Compensation for birth related injuries are extensive. Delays of just minutes or the failure of medical professionals to properly monitor a baby’s health during childbirth can result in injuries that affect every aspect of their development from that point onwards.

These avoidable failings in medical care can mean the difference between a perfectly healthy baby being delivered to a baby facing lifelong care needs, the inability to ever work and sometimes even the inability to form relationships.

The practicalities of the disabilities caused are just part of the heartache suffered by the families involved. The joy of the birth of a new member of the family is replaced by worry and trauma.

Birth injuries can include: birth asphyxia; birth trauma (skull fractures and brain haemorrhages); cephalohematoma; cerebral palsy; epilepsy; hydrocephalus; hypoxia; ischaemic brain damage; jaundice and meningitis.

The resulting day-to-day complications can make daily activities extremely difficult. The compensation sought in these circumstances aims to cover the cost of essential items, care, adaptations and transport to ease some of these difficulties.

Equipment such as wheelchairs may be required. Adapting the family’s living space or building a new home to fit their needs, therapies and the cost of lifelong care is accounted for.

Loss of earnings, where appropriate, and other costs such as transport to medical appointments or school are all considered when we calculate how much our clients are entitled to following medical negligence.

Our team uniquely comprises leading medical and legal specialists with more than 20 years’ experience. Our relentless pursuit of the truth has led to millions of pounds of compensation for clients significantly injured when medical care has fallen below adequate levels.

Specialising in childbirth injuries, we are experts in unravelling the fine details to prove when and how errors have been made. We work with several experts to accurately calculate how much is required by our families to support past, current and future needs.

For a confidential chat with our friendly team call 01253 766 559 or email dr@addies.co.uk 

 

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Birth trauma can affect more than just mother and baby

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Birth trauma can affect more than just mother and baby

It’s Birth Trauma Awareness Week between 1 – 8 July 2018 and it’s a topic that needs more attention, more conversations, and more understanding and support for those affected.

According to the Birth Trauma Association, around 20,000 women a year are affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of the trauma experienced during childbirth and a further 200,000 women may have some of the associated symptoms.

The devastating effects of birth trauma are not limited to mother and baby however. Our specialist team recently successfully won a damages claim for a grandmother who suffered with PTSD following the birth of her granddaughter.

As medical and legal experts in birth injuries and trauma, we understand that medical negligence has far reaching implications and that incidents of PTSD are common.

Awareness campaigns can help women feel less isolated and encourages support networks to be built. When medical negligence occurs in maternity units, and babies suffer avoidable injuries, the psychological effects on mums – and wider family members - can be extremely damaging.

Birth trauma can result following a long or difficult labour or if medical intervention occurs leaving mother and baby significantly physically injured. The mental scars can be as devastating as the physical injuries caused but can often go untreated or are sometimes misdiagnosed as post-natal depression.

Wider family members who are present at a traumatic birth can also be impacted emotionally as they witness the difficult events leaving long-lasting symptoms including anxiety and depression. 

We have heard from many women who shared their birth trauma stories with us on our  page and also from clients and it’s a sad fact that for many, the experience of birth trauma has resulted in life changing decisions as many choose not to have more children for fear of having a repeated experience.

As maternity services continue to struggle in some parts of the country, these incidents are likely to continue happening in our hospitals. The Government has pledged an increase in midwives while the quality of maternity services is in focus following the recognition from the health secretary earlier this year that more than half of the NHS compensation fund is spent on maternity cases.

Childbirth is a critical and vulnerable time. We are often told by clients who have suffered injuries due to medical negligence that their concerns were simply not heard. It is time for these issues to continue being under the spotlight to prevent further incidents of birth injuries and trauma and to allow for greater support.

Representing families for more than 20 years, we understand the impact of psychological injuries on the lives of those affected. This can range from difficulties in returning to work or reduced work-related responsibilities, to the inability to continue living life as before due to anxiety and other associated issues.

We factor this in when we fight for compensation taking a holistic view of the injuries caused.

If you and your family have suffered significant injuries before, during or after childbirth, we can help. Contact a member of our friendly team for a free initial consultation on 01253 766 559.

 

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Coroner returns rare finding of neglect following death of Lytham man

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Coroner returns rare finding of neglect following death of Lytham man

Blackpool assistant coroner Claire Doherty yesterday delivered a verdict of death by natural causes due to neglect following the death of 45-year-old Paul Wilkinson at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in May 2017.

The father of three was admitted as a priority patient into Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Friday 26 May complaining of severe abdominal pain and died just six days later from multiple organ failure and sepsis.

The Lytham based salesman had been perfectly healthy until two weeks prior to admission when he started suffering with muscle aches. A visit to his local GP resulted in a diagnosis of a suspected rheumatological condition and steroids were prescribed which initially eased his symptoms.

His partner, a former bowel cancer screening nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Louise Johnson said: “I am pleased that the coroner’s verdict has confirmed what I already knew but it’s very hard for our family. Paul had not slept well due to significant pain and was rushed to hospital at 6am on the Friday before the Bank Holiday weekend and admitted to A&E as a priority case.

“Paul was not one to complain but he was left in the corridor for more than an hour at one point and was shouting out in pain. The staff didn’t take his pain seriously despite two indicators showing that he had an infection. Over the course of the next six days his condition just got worse but he was initially only seen by junior doctors. No one seemed to take his condition seriously although he was displaying several very serious symptoms.”

Instructed to represent the family medical negligence specialist Leanne Devine at Addies commented: “We are very pleased with the coroner’s finding of neglect as we believe that Paul Wilkinson would have made a full recovery had he been given adequate medical care at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“Paul was admitted as a priority patient but was given the level of care in the first few critical days as someone suffering a common cold. He should have been prescribed antibiotics on day one which could have saved his life.

“There were no trained nurses available to care for him and his medical care was initially left to junior doctors and healthcare assistants. Paul suffered very poor care during his final days and despite being admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital as a priority, was not seen by a consultant until 54 hours later during which his health progressively deteriorated.

“Our investigations to date have found that there were multiple failures in giving Paul the medical attention and treatment required. Paul’s condition deteriorated rapidly during his six day stay and we believe that his death was entirely preventable. We will now be pursuing the Trust for medical negligence.”

Paul leaves behind 10-year-old twins and a son aged two and a half years old.

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Inquest starts following alleged preventable death of Lytham man

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Inquest starts following alleged preventable death of Lytham man

An inquest following the unexpected death of 45-year-old Paul Wilkinson will take place at the Blackpool & Fylde Coroner’s office starting on Monday 30 April at 10am.

Admitted into Blackpool Victoria Hospital last year on Friday 26 May complaining of severe abdominal pain, the father of three died just six days later from multiple organ failure and sepsis.

The Lytham based salesman had been perfectly healthy until two weeks prior to admission when he started suffering with muscle aches. A visit to his local GP resulted in a diagnosis of a suspected rheumatological condition and steroids were prescribed which initially eased his symptoms.

His partner, a former bowel cancer screening nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Louise Johnson said: “Paul had not slept well due to significant pain and was rushed to hospital at 6am on the Friday before the Bank Holiday weekend and admitted to A&E as a priority case.

“Paul was not one to complain but he was left in the corridor for more than an hour at one point and was shouting out in pain, but he was simply given some paracetamol. The staff didn’t take his pain seriously despite two indicators showing that he had an infection. Over the course of the next six days, his condition just got worse, but he was initially only seen by junior doctors.

“I was going back and forth from the hospital to look after our three children and witnessed medical staff simply reacting to his individual symptoms as they presented themselves rather than looking at the bigger picture to identify the real cause of his pain. I was desperately shocked at the lack of care given to Paul even though he was visibly getting worse and experiencing a lot of pain.

“No one seemed to take his condition seriously although he was displaying several very serious symptoms. Paul was visibly terrified when he was sent to ITU three days after he first went in. I never thought that that would be the last time that I’d speak to him.”

Instructed to represent the family at the inquest, medical negligence specialist Leanne Devine commented: “Paul suffered very poor care during his final days and despite being admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital as a priority, was not seen by a consultant until 54 hours later during which his symptoms progressively worsened.

“There were no trained nurses available to care for him and his medical care was initially left to junior doctors and healthcare assistants. Our investigations to date have found that there were multiple failures in giving Paul the medical attention and treatment required. Paul’s condition deteriorated rapidly during his six day stay and we believe that his death was entirely preventable. Paul’s family have also instructed us to pursue a claim of medical negligence against the Trust following the inquest findings.”

The inquest will hear from no less than 15 witnesses over the course of four days. Paul leaves behind 10-year-old twins and a son aged two and a half years old.

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Failure to deliver basic patient care leads to £multi-million medical negligence claim

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Failure to deliver basic patient care leads to £multi-million medical negligence claim

A Sri Lankan family recently found themselves at the centre of media attention after their son, born healthy via a caesarean section, later suffered a catastrophic brain injury due to medical negligence.

Now aged eight, he suffers with cerebral palsy as a result and is significantly impacted with impaired cognitive and physical abilities.

As medical negligence specialists supporting families who have suffered significant injuries due to medical errors, our cases often include mastering very complex medical circumstances and unravelling precise granular details to get to the truth.

In this case however, the baby boy was delivered in a perfectly healthy condition. His young 21-year-old mum did not speak English however, and was shy of character. 

Following his birth, he cried a lot and his mother attempted to get the attention of the attending midwives but her concerns were reportedly dismissed and she was discharged from hospital early.

We can only presume that this was her first child. As a new mother, it was vital that she received medical advice on how and when to feed her new-born and what to do should her baby experience problems with feeding as can sometimes be the case.

Speaking very limited English however, medical staff failed to involve an interpreter to ensure that this new mum left the hospital knowing exactly how to sustain and care for her baby.

During a subsequent home visit, the little boy was found with a pale appearance and was lethargic. It transpired that he had not been fed for 15 hours and he had very low blood pressure leading to irreversible brain damage.

Pregnancy and birth can lead to unexpected medical complications. In these circumstances medical staff are duty bound to provide the best possible care for mother and baby carrying out any appropriate tests, adequately and correctly reading the results, and delivering any required care in a timely manner.

This mother simply needed an interpreter and in this unique case, the lack of the appropriate level of patient care has changed her son and whole family’s lives forever.

During our medical negligence investigations working with some of the best medical minds in the country, our cases are often very difficult to prove because the difference between a child being born perfectly healthy and catastrophically injured can sometimes be down to a difference of just a few short minutes of delayed action.

This family simply didn’t receive the most basic patient care of adequate communication and supportive instructions on how to care for their new baby and advice on what they could do if they ran into any problems feeding him.

Having successfully delivered a health baby, the medical staff involved then sadly fell short of giving this patient the support she needed to look after her child. The media have reported that the family could receive multi-million-pound medical negligence compensation following the incident.

This level of NHS payout would be entirely appropriate to cover the lifetime needs of this boy who will need ongoing support via therapy, specialist equipment and likely requirement for home adaptations to make every day living easier.

The NHS Trust responsible in this case has reported that improvements have been implemented since this incident took place. What this case has highlighted is that medical duty of care doesn’t simply end when a baby is delivered.

To read more about the medical negligence compensation we have secured for families click here

If you believe that your family has suffered due to medical negligence, contact our specialist team of medical and legal experts on 01253 766 559 or email us with a summary of the NHS Trust involved, the dates of the incident and brief details of the injury at dr@addies.co.uk.

 

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital worst in the country for A&E waiting times

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Blackpool Victoria Hospital worst in the country for A&E waiting times

Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s A&E department is the worst in England for hitting the 4-hour maximum waiting time for patients according to new NHS figures. 

The hospital only managed to see 40.1% of A&E patients within four hours of their arrival in December 2017, compared to a national average of 77.3% and against an NHS-wide target of 95%. No other English NHS Trust fell below 57%. Additionally, when looking at A&E patients across England who were forced to wait over 12 hours to be seen, more than 1 in 7 were in Blackpool Victoria.

With timely treatment often essential when dealing with A&E patients, these figures for Blackpool Victoria Hospital represent a potentially significant threat to patient safety.

Wendy Swift, Chief Executive of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Chairman of the Fylde Coast A&E Delivery Board, said in a press release: 

“The health system across the Fylde was under severe and sustained pressure over the Christmas period and this challenging situation continued into the New Year. During this time pressures on our services led to an unusually large number of A&E breaches in early January. 

“Our primary concern during this period was the safety of patients and the compassion and commitment of staff ensured that the level of patient care remained high through these challenging times.”

Ms Swift went on to explain: 

“We have been undertaking extensive work to stream non-emergency patients into more appropriate settings such as our walk-in centres and our urgent care centre, working with local GPs. That means the most acutely ill patients with complex needs are treated in the emergency department and they need more care and attention from our senior clinical teams prior to admission to ensure they get the best possible care.”

This latest scandal comes in the wake of the revelation in September 2017 that Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust has one of the highest rates of unnecessary deaths of any NHS trust in England. It was found that the Trust had experienced an unexpectedly high number of deaths in the 12 months up to March 2017 – the second year in the row that this has been the case.

The figures for unnecessary deaths are generated by comparing the actual number of deaths in an NHS trust to predictions made by the Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) scheme. The SHMI figures are based on various factors and are designed to show how many patients would be expected to die at a specific hospital if were run to an acceptable standard.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital was also previously highlighted in a 2013 review by the NHS’s medical director looking into 13,000 needless deaths across 14 NHS trusts.

Unfortunately, this pattern of failings at Blackpool Victoria Hospital reflects our own experience dealing with clients who are former patients of the hospital. We have supported a number of people pursuing medical negligence claims against Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust due to failings in the care they received. 

While we have achieved success for many of these clients, securing substantial financial settlements in a number of cases, the need for this kind of action strongly suggests that significant improvements need to be made at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and throughout the local NHS trust.

If you believe you have been a victim of medical negligence at Blackpool Victoria Hospital or anywhere else in England and Wales, we can offer the support you need to claim compensation. 

You can get in touch with our highly experienced medical negligence solicitors now by calling 01253 766 559 or emailing dr@addies.co.uk. Please be assured that any information you share with us will be treated with the strictest confidence.

 

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Grandmother awarded compensation for suffering PTSD after watching daughter give birth

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Grandmother awarded compensation for suffering PTSD after watching daughter give birth

My client's six year fight for justice.

As reported by Henry Bodkin in The Sunday Telegraph, please see below:

NHS hospitals face paying millions in compensation to family members whose loved-ones undergo botched medical procedures after a grandmother successfully claimed for suffering PTSD following the birth of her granddaughter.

Experts say the High Court ruling “turns the tide” in favour of family members claiming compensation in cases of medical negligence.

Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust were ordered to make the pay-out after a chaotic delivery which left the new-born with permanent neurological damage.

The unnamed baby, which came out “flat and purple with a swollen head”, did not start breathing for 12 minutes – her mother and grandmother believed she was dead.

Until now, family members traumatised from witnessing negligent medical procedures or their aftermath have found it extremely difficult to successfully claim damages. 

While patients groups have welcomed the new ruling, it could mean health bosses, wary of large legal bills, start limiting the number of relatives present during hospital procedures.

Nigel Poole QC, head of King’s Chambers and a medical negligence specialist, said: “I would not underestimate the importance of this decision.

“There are potentially a lot of people who could bring a claim like this.”

The High Court found the midwives at Calderdale Birthing Unit did not properly anticipate the risk of delivering a 10lbs baby.

The girl suffered an acute profound hypoxic ischaemic insult as a result of an unnecessary 11-minute delay in delivery in April 2011.

Mr Justice Goss also found the midwives had deliberately prevented a specialist obstetrician from entering the room during a crucial stage in the emergency, and that the hospital subsequently destroyed medical records after the legal action had begun.

The mother had raised concerns about the size of her baby during antenatal appointments, but the “offhand” midwives had told her “big babies just slip out”.

In the event, the girl’s shoulder became jammed behind her mother’s pelvic bone.

Historically, courts have been very reluctant to award damages to family members who witness traumatic scenes in hospital on the basis that it would open the floodgates to thousands of claims, and  that relatives should expect a degree of unpleasantness when they go to hospital.

However, Mr Justice Goss found that watching a complicated birth which resulted the appearance of a stillborn baby was “sufficiently horrifying” for both mother and grandmother to claim for PTSD.

Suzanne White, a medical negligence expert at Leigh Day, said that hospital chief executives normally try their best to settle these types of case behind closed doors because they want to avoid setting a precedent.

“This ruling puts the cat among the pigeons,” she said. “The NHS don’t like this kind of case because there could be a huge number of them.”

Rolf Dalhaug, of the campaign group 17 Dads, had to fight for compensation for his PTSD when one of his twins, Thor, lost his life during a delivery using forceps at Lincoln County Hospital in 2013.

Last night he welcomed the new ruling recognising the effect medical negligence can have on close family.

“The NHS don’t recognise it at all, I think it’s something they choose to actively supress,” he said. “I think this ruling is massively important and will have a big effect going forward.”

Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust has said it will appeal against the decision.

Line from trust: "The trust recognise and regret that a number of lives have been adversely affected by the events of this case."

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