Compensation for Medical Negligence

The care received in hospitals in the UK is generally of a high standard, but sometimes mistakes are made, which can have tragic consequences for patients and their families.

Misdiagnosis Leads to Fatal Injury

In one such case, medical errors led to the death of a woman in Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2010. Her husband has only recently received compensation for his loss, reports the BBC.

Alison Taylor, who was only 29-years-old, had attended the hospital during a weekend after developing leg pain a few days after giving birth. No ultrasound was available at the weekend, and her pain was diagnosed as cramp. It turned out that she was suffering from deep vein thrombosis, which led to a fatal pulmonary embolism.

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust eventually apologised to Mr Taylor and agreed a compensation payment. The exact amount is not known, but it is thought to be in six figures. The Trust also said it has carried out an overhaul of its obstetric practices, and ultrasound facilities are now available seven days a week.

Compensation for Birth Injury

In a second tragic incident, a boy was left with life-changing injuries at birth, reports the Daily Post.

He was born at Wrexham Maelor Hospital in 2002 but was starved of oxygen during the labour and delivery and sustained cerebral palsy. He has severe learning difficulties and is reliant on round-the-clock care.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board denied liability for the boy’s injuries, but has apparently agreed to settle the case for 60% of what was originally claimed.

His compensation includes a lump sum of £1.7 million, plus annual index-linked payments of £100,000-a-year, rising to £132,000 once he turns 19.

The judge approving the settlement praised the boy’s parents for their devotion to their son and said that the compensation should help in the provision of his care.

Government Proposes Fixed Fee Regime

Last month, the UK Government launched a consultation exercise over plans to impose a new, fixed cap on all clinical negligence cases up to £25,000 in England and Wales.

The proposals were given a cautious welcome by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

“A fixed fee regime for more straightforward cases could be workable but the priority has to be the development of a quick and efficient system,” explained Neil Sugarman, president of APIL. “It should then be possible to fix legal costs to reflect the speed and efficiency of the new process.”

“We now have an opportunity to continue our work with the Department of Health to try to ensure the legal process works properly and that patients will be able to obtain the legal help they need,” he said.

“Above all, we need an end to the ‘deny, defend and delay’ approach by medical professionals when something has gone wrong, which is all too common,” he added. “It makes legal proceedings take far too long, generates unnecessary cost and untold human misery for those who have been injured.”

“The best way to cut costs is, of course, for the medical profession to learn from its mistakes and prevent needless injury from happening in the first place and we welcome the fact that this is acknowledged at the outset of the consultation document,” Mr Sugarman concluded. “But when the worst happens, a quick, efficient route to compensation to help people get back on track is the very least patients should be able to expect.”

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