Woman Awarded Compensation for the Failure to Conduct an MRI

A young Los Angeles woman has been awarded more than $7 million compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI, due to which she lost her leg to cancer.

Anna Rahm from Woodland Hills in Los Angeles was just sixteen years of age when she attended the family chiropractor in January 2009, complaining of a back pain that had started the previous summer and that had spread down to her right leg. After two months of unsuccessful treatment, the chiropractor suggested that Anna attend the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center and undergo an MRI Scan.

Anna’s treating physicians at Kaiser Permanente initially refused to conduct the scan. Three months later, when Anna´s condition had deteriorated further, her mother convinced Anna’s primary care physician that the scan was necessary. The MRI was eventually performed on July 2nd, 2009, when a large and aggressive tumor – a pelvic osteosarcoma – was discovered in Anna´s pelvis.

Anna subsequently underwent ten weeks of chemotherapy but, due to the osteosarcoma failing to lessen, had an above-the-knee amputation of her right leg, the removal of half her pelvis and spine fusion surgery in October 2009. Anna resumed chemotherapy to rid her body of the rest of the cancer, but was unable to complete the full course of treatment due to developing a C.diff infection.

Eventually Anna´s treatment resumed, and was concluded in June 2010. It is still necessary for her to undergo a regime of check-ups, lab work, PET scans, bone scans, CAT scans and MRIs – and Anna understandably is prone to bouts of depression and phantom limb pain. Doctors believe that she is now 90% clear of the cancer and should not have to undergo chemotherapy again.

In July 2010, when Anna was still seventeen years of age, her parents – James and Lynette Rahm – made a claim for compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI when it was first requested. They alleged – on their daughter´s behalf – that the pelvic osteosarcoma was aggressive and fast-growing and, had it been diagnosed in March 2009 instead of in July 2009, Anna would have had other treatment options other than the amputation of her leg.

The Southern California Permanente Medical Group contested the claim, saying that the same surgery would have been necessary had the diagnosis been made in March 2009 because of the cancer´s location. However, a jury at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County found in Anna´s favor and awarded her $7,151,990 compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI.

The award of compensation for the failure to conduct an MRI is likely to be reduced by just over $1.5 million for the jury awarding more than the allowable $250,000 limit for pain-and-suffering awards in medical malpractice cases in California.


Compensation Claims for Negligent Burns Treatment Resolved in Court

Two compensation claims for negligent burns treatment at a Philadelphia hospital have been resolved after a hearing at the Court of Common Pleas.

Antonio Crespo and Edward Torralvo were working at one of the latter´s rental projects in June 2011, when both men suffered burns to their fingers from handling hydrofluoric acid while cleaning bricks. Antonio and Edward waited until the following day before attending the emergency room at the Temple University Hospital, where they were treated by the hospital´s burns specialist Dr. William Hughes and resident consultant Theresa Pagana.

The two men had injections of lidocaine and calcium gluconate directly into their fingers and were given nerve blocks. However, the treatment failed to work and resulted in both men experiencing more pain in the fingers. When Antonio returned to the hospital two days later with swollen and discolored fingers, one doctor likened his condition to frostbite and, in July, he was treated for gangrene and had the tips of his left index and middle finger amputated.

Edward also had to undergo drastic treatment to resolve the pain in his fingers and still suffers from tingling and numbness. Antonio still has extreme sensitivity on the top of his amputated middle finger and may have to undergo further surgery.

After seeking legal advice, both men made compensation claims for negligent burns treatment against the Temple University Hospital, Dr. Hughes, and Theresa Pagana, alleging that the treatment they received should never have been administered by injection. They supported their claims with expert evidence that the injections could have prevented the blood flow in their fingers and hindered the drugs´ effectiveness.

Liability in the compensation claims for negligent burns treatment was denied by the defendants. Their defense was that the injections were necessary because the two men had waited too long before seeking medical treatment and the recommended course of action – the administration of calcium gluconate in the form of a gel massaged into the fingers – would not have worked so long after exposure to the acid.

The compensation claims for negligent burns treatment went to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. It was heard by a jury before Judge Karen Shreeves-John, who – at the end of an eight-day hearing – found in Antonio´s and Edward´s favor. The jury awarded Antonio – who was an aspiring musician – more than $4.5 million compensation for the avoidable amputation of his fingertips, and Edward $500,000 for the nerve damage he had sustained due to medical negligence.


Developments Escalate in Las Vegas Claim for Elder Abuse

The discovery of a previously unreported complaint form has implicated an assistant physical therapist in a Las Vegas claim for elder abuse.

The Las Vegas claim for elder abuse was made by the widow and daughter of Fredrick Knell – an eighty-nine year old resident of the Las Ventanas nursing facility in Summerlin, who was taken to the St. Rose Dominican Hospital on May 21, 2014, with a fracture of the left femur and severe bruising. Medical staff at the hospital also documented bedsores that were attributed to “severe neglect”.

Fredrick had surgery on his leg and was given a blood transfusion two days later. Tragically he never recovered from the trauma and died at the hospital in September.

While lawyers acting on behalf of the family were investigating the circumstances of Fredrick´s fractured leg, the presence of a complaint form came to light during an interview with the Director of Social Services at Las Ventanas – Sharon Shepherd. Ms. Shepherd told the lawyers that she had been told not to release the form, but the lawyers got a court order for Las Ventanas to hand it over.

The complaint form reveals that on the day prior to Fredrick´s admission to hospital, he had asked a nurse to call the police. According to the nurse´s report, Fredrick had pointed to his knee and told her “the therapist”. The nurse – Jackie Kinsey – did not call the police as she had been asked, but completed the form and forwarded it to her managers.

Following the discovery of the previously unreported complaint form, Charles Maribbay – an assistant physical therapist – and his employer, Aegis Therapies Inc., have been added as defendants in the Las Vegas claim for elder abuse. “The failure to disclose the document originally speaks for itself,” one of the lawyers told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The lawyer also told reporters that the director of nursing and the therapy manager at Las Ventanas were designated to investigate the complaint. Allegedly the section of the form that indicates what action was taken and whether the complaint was resolved remains blank. “This is a horrible, horrible case where even the police were requested to be called, but the facility did nothing,” the lawyer said.

Unless resolved beforehand, the Las Vegas claim for elder abuse is scheduled to be heard before Judge Gloria Sturman at the Clark County District Court in March 2017.


Judge Awards $9.6 Million Compensation for Medical Malpractice at Birth

A judge has awarded a 3-year-old Californian girl $9.6 million compensation for medical malpractice at birth against the doctor who delivered her.

At 11:00pm on 29th April 2012, the unnamed girl´s mother was admitted to the Banner-Lassen Hospital in Susanville, California, in the advanced stages of labor. At the time of her admission she was dilated 4cm. By 2:00am the following morning, she had dilated to 9cm, but never progressed to 10cm.

From 2:00am, the fetal heart rate went from normal to variable, before showing more significant drops. At 3:45am, the mother´s consultant – Dr. Paul Davainis – told her to start pushing even though she was not fully dilated. At 5:00am, after more than an hour of pushing, Dr. Davainis ordered a C-section. A surgeon arrived at 5:15am, by which time the fetal heart rate was undetectable.

The baby girl was finally delivered at 5:28am with her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. She was limp and blue, and needed to be resuscitated and intubated. She was then transferred to the UC-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento suffering from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy caused by a lack of oxygen.

As a result of the delayed C-section, the little girl cannot walk, talk or care for herself. She is blind, suffers occasional seizures and is fed by a tube into her stomach. She will need full-time care for the rest of live – which is only likely to be until she reaches her mid-20s.

On the little girl´s behalf, her mother claimed compensation for medical malpractice at birth – alleging that Dr. Davainis had been negligent by waiting too long to perform a C-section despite evidence of fetal distress. On 28th October, Judge John Mendez at the Sacramento Federal Court found in her favor, and last week announced the settlement of compensation for medical malpractice at birth.

The judge awarded the girl a total of $9.6 million compensation for medical malpractice at birth to account for her pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of income. The bulk of the compensation settlement will be used to pay for her ongoing care. The girl´s mother was also awarded $250,000 compensation for medical malpractice at birth to account for the emotional trauma she experienced during the delivery of her daughter.


Parents Awarded Compensation for a Lack of Care in a Nursing Home

An Orange County jury has awarded the parents of a boy who died after a seizure $10.2 million compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home.

Kevin Barr was born seventeen weeks premature in 1997. At birth he weighed just more than one pound and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. When he was nine-years-old, Kevin became a full-time resident at Lonika´s Home Inc. in Mission Viejo, California – a specialist medical facility that promised it could provide 24-hour care.

However, early in the morning of 7th February 2012, Kevin was found in an unresponsive state following a seizure. None of the staff were able to perform CPR, and there was a delay of almost an hour before staff called 911. Tragically, Kevin died during the delay; and, when emergency services responded to the 911 call, staff at the nursing home failed to provide Kevin´s medical records.

Kevin´s parents – Mark and Michele Barr – sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home. In their lawsuit against Lonika´s Home Inc., Mark and Michele alleged that nursing staff had failed to give Kevin his anti-seizure medication, had avoidably delayed calling 911 and had attempted to cover up the cause of his death to prevent an autopsy.

The care home denied that it was liable for Kevin´s death and argued that he had died due to Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy Syndrome. The facility also denied that they had avoidably delayed calling 911 or attempted to cover up the cause of Kevin´s death by destroying his medication and concealing his medical records.

The claim for compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home went to the Superior Court of Orange County in Santa Ana, where it was heard by a jury in the court of Judge James J Di Casare. The jury was presented evidence to support Mark and Michele´s allegations of negligence and also to prove that the defendant had attempted to conceal evidence of negligence after Kevin´s death.

At the end of the eight-week trial, the jury found in Mark and Michele´s favor. The jury unanimously agreed that Kevin´s death was attributable to willful misconducted and that Lonika´s Home Inc. was guilty of “malice, oppression and fraud” in trying to cover up its negligence. Mark and Michele were awarded $5.7 million compensation for a lack of care in a nursing home and a further $4.5 million in punitive damages.


Family Awarded Compensation for a Fatal Fall from a Stretcher

The family of a woman who died following an accident prior to an ambulance transfer has been awarded compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher.

On January 31st 2009, Barbara Grimes (67) from Plymouth in Massachusetts underwent her regular dialysis treatment at the Fresenius Medical Care Center, and was being taken to an ambulance that was to take her home to the Golden Living Center, when the stretcher on which she was being transported collapsed and tipped over. As Barbara fell from the stretcher she hit her head on the pavement and suffered a massive blunt force trauma. She died from a brain hemorrhage four days later.

On behalf of his sister´s estate, Barbara´s brother – Peter Zacarelli – claimed compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher, alleging that the company responsible for taking Barbara home – American Medical Response (AMR) of Massachusetts had failed to train and supervise the Emergency Medical Technicians in charge of the stretcher. Peter claimed that the Emergency Medical Technicians had failed to properly secure the locking mechanism on the stretcher and had conducted a negligent turning maneuver that had caused the stretcher to collapse and tip over.

AMR disputed that it was liable for Barbara´s death and argued that what had occurred was a tragic incident outside of any negligence. Although admitting that the locking mechanism was not properly secured, AMR argued that the stretcher collapsed partially and unexpectedly, and it was Barbara´s weight shift that caused it to tip over. AMR added that it had a training and supervision policy in place which was stronger than the advisory issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Unable to resolve the case by negotiation, the claim for compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher went to the Superior Court of Middlesex County where it was heard by a jury before Robert B Gordon. After seven days of testimony, the jury took two and a half hours to find in Peter´s favor and awarded Barbara´s estate $1,425,000 compensation for a fatal fall from a stretcher to account for Barbara´s pain and suffering during the last days of her life. Barbara´s three next of kin were also awarded $25,000 each.


Man Resolves Claim for Negligent Care following Knee Replacement Surgery

A man from Coldwater, Michigan, has resolved his claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery at a hearing of the Branch County Circuit Court.

In September 2011, James Dorstal (72) underwent knee replacement surgery at the Community Health Center of Branch County. During his recovery from the operation, James was fitted with a continuous passive motion device to assist with his rehabilitation and to minimize any post-operative swelling.

However, the nurse caring for James mispositioned his knee at an angle of 75 degrees – rather than the recommended 40 degrees – resulting in James suffering unnecessary trauma to his knee. James can now only walk short distances with the help of a cane, and is unable to enjoy his previously normal activities.

James sought legal advice and made a claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery against the Community Health Center of Branch County. James claimed in his action that, if the continuous passive motion device had been fitted properly, he would not have his current mobility problems or had to undergo a second operation to remove excess scar tissue that had developed post-operatively.

The Community Health Center of Branch County contested the claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery. In the health center´s defense, it was argued that the motion device had been fitted properly and that the mobility issues James was experiencing were normal after undergoing knee replacement surgery. The health center maintained that it had not deviated from the acceptable standard of care.

The claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery went to the Branch County Circuit Court, where experts from both sides presented evidence to the jury. After a three-day hearing and less than an hour of deliberations, the jury found unanimously in James´ favor – awarding him $225,000 in settlement of his claim for negligent care following knee replacement surgery.


Jury Awards Compensation for an Injury due to a Tracheostomy

A jury in Pennsylvania has awarded a plaintiff $2.78 million compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy after a hearing at the Delaware County Court.

Bonnie Semple (56) was taken to the Crozer-Chester Medical Center in March 2009 after being injured in an auto accident. Bonnie was unconscious but underwent surgery for internal bleeding and a lacerated liver, during which time she was intubated.

After recovering from her surgery, Bonnie was diagnosed with swelling in her airways. She was prescribed steroids, but when the swelling failed to respond to medication the original tube used for the intubation was replaced with a smaller one so that Bonnie could breathe more easily.

Bonnie was discharged from the medical center in mid-April, but returned in early May with an infestion in her neck and chest. Her doctors found that her airway had collapsed and a review of her condition by a surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania noted that Bonnie had a “high tracheostomy”.

Reconstruction surgery to rebuild Bonnie´s larynx and trachea was unsuccessful and Bonnie will have to breathe through a tube for the rest of her life. Bonnie can only speak by using a special valve attached to the tube and her reliance on the breathing apparatus has prevented her from being as active as she previously was, and made it dangerous for her to be around water.

Bonnie claimed compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy against the Crozer-Chester Medical Center and the surgeon who performed the tracheostomy – Dr. Muhammad Budeir. Both defendants denied the allegations, arguing that the tracheostomy had been performed correctly and that Bonnie´s infection had developed as the result of non-compliance with her home care regimen.

It was also argued that, due to being morbidly obese, Bonnie´s “short, thick neck” had prevented her from being weaned from the original endotracheal tube; however, at the Delaware County Court in Pennsylvania, a jury found in Bonnie´s favor – awarding her $2.78 million compensation for an injury due to a tracheostomy.


Claim for Paralysis due to Medical Negligence Resolved in Court for $12.5 Million

A man´s claim for paralysis due to medical negligence has been resolved at the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County, PA, for $12.5 million.

On 17th June 2011, fifty-seven year old Kenneth Del Grosso from Upper Darby in Delaware County, PA, went to the Emergency Room of Delaware County Memorial Hospital complaining of a pain in the left side of his neck and tingling in his left arm.

Kenneth was admitted overnight during which time his condition deteriorated and he developed a fever. He was evaluated by the hospital´s infectious disease specialist – Bonnie Rabinowitch – who identified symptoms of a spinal cord epidural abscess and ordered an MRI.

However, radiologist Ben-Zion Friedman and neurologist Hussam Yacoub failed to identify a cervical abscess on Kenneth´s spine and an emergency operation was avoidably delayed – surgery only being conducted at Rabinowitch´s insistence.

Due to the avoidable delay in undergoing surgery to remove the abscess, Kenneth is now paralyzed from the chest down and has lost the function of his bowel and bladder. He is unable to wash, clothe or feed himself and has to rely on his wife Elizabeth for all his daily needs.

Kenneth made a compensation claim for paralysis due to medical negligence of the three doctors primarily responsible for his treatment – Rabinowitch, Friedman and Yacoub. The three defendants denied their liability for Kenneth´s paralysis, arguing that the outcome would have been no different had he undergone surgery sooner.

The claim for paralysis due to medical negligence went to the Court of Common Please, where it was heard by a jury over two weeks. At the end of the hearing the jury found in Kenneth´s favor, attributing Friedman 67 percent liability and Yacoub 33 percent liability for his injuries. Rabinowitch was not considered to have contributed to the medical negligence.

The jury awarded Kenneth almost $12 million compensation in settlement of his claim for paralysis due to medical negligence to account for his past and future medical expenses, his loss of income and loss of amenity. Elizabeth was awarded $500,000 compensation for her loss of consortium.


Court Upholds Settlement of Compensation for Oxygen Deprivation at Birth

The Philadelphia Superior Court has upheld a $32.8 million settlement of compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth awarded to a six-year-old girl.

On 14th November 2008, Leslie Proffitt gave birth to daughter – Lillian – by an emergency cesarean section that had been necessitated by a sudden drop in the fetal heartrate. However, a significant delay in escalating the situation to Leslie´s attending physician had resulted in Lillian being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

One of the two nurses responsible for the delay – Christine Winter – only had six months practical experience and had never been trained in the procedures to follow when a fetal heartrate monitor registers a sudden drop. The second nurse – Lana Jones-Sandy – had attempted to help Winter during the emergency, and did not have the thought to advise Leslie´s attending physician of the situation.

Lillian was born limp and blue-gray in color. She was resuscitated and transferred to the Children´s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was diagnosed with brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen. Due to the lack of oxygen prior to her delivery, Lillian is now a spastic quadriplegic and requires full-time care.

Leslie – on her daughter´s behalf – claimed compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth against the Phoenixville Hospital as employer of the two nurses. The hospital denied liability for Lillian´s injuries and the case was heard by a jury in January 2013 at the Chester County Court.

The jury found in Lillian´s favor and awarded her $32.8 million compensation for oxygen deprivation at birth. However, the Phoenixville Hospital appealed the verdict – claiming that the delay in escalating the emergency situation happened at the beginning of the delivery process, and not at the end when Lillian suffered brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen.

The appeal was heard recently by the Philadelphia Superior Court, where a three-judge panel upheld the verdict of the Chester County jury. In their written verdict, Judge Paula Francisco Ott wrote: “Phoenixville Hospital fails to recognize that the delay, no matter when it occurred in the delivery process, subjected Lillian to the additional 10-13 minutes of oxygen deprivation that ultimately led to her injuries.”


Man Awarded $3.7 Million Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Skin Cancer

A man from New York has been awarded $3,706,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer by a jury at the Nassau County Supreme Court.

In June 2012, John Ficke (52) had a biopsy performed on a lesion on his sternum, which was diagnosed by pathologist Dr. Asher Rabinowitz from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manhattan as a dysplastic melanocytic nevus – the equivalent of a benign mole.

Still concerned by the lesion, John underwent a second biopsy the following June that revealed he had a desmoplastic melanoma – a rare cancer of the skin that was considered malignant. Further tests revealed that the cancer had metastasized and entered one of John´s lymph nodes.

John started radiation treatment, but in February 2014 was diagnosed with stage-IV lung cancer. John started more aggressive chemotherapy treatment, but the size of the tumor in his lung tripled. A change of chemotherapy reduced the tumor´s size, but his condition has been diagnosed as terminal and John is expected to survive no longer than five years.

John sought legal advice, and his lawyer had the initial biopsy from 2012 re-examined. The expert pathologist working on John´s behalf found that Rabinowitz had misdiagnosed the original biopsy and gave the opinion that the error constituted a departure from an accepted standard of medical care.

With this evidence, John claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer against Rabinowitz and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The pathologist denied that he had been negligent, and produced evidence showing that a rare, desmoplastic melanoma would not normally be located on the sternum.

Despite denying liability, Rabinowitz and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons made an offer of compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer amounting to $675,000. The offer was rejected, and the case went to the Nassau County Supreme Court, where it was heard by a jury before Judge F. Dana Winslow.

After nine days of evidence, and six hours of deliberations, the jury found in John´s favor. They awarded him $3,706,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer, which included $3,256,000 for his pain and suffering and $450,000 towards his wife´s past and future loss of services.


Jury Awards $3 Million Compensation for Unnecessary Skin Graft Surgery

A man who burned himself in a cooking accident has been awarded $3 million compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery by a jury in Philadelphia.

On May 1st 2011, Wismond Brissett (45) was frying fish in his kitchen when the cooking grease caught fire. The flames from the burning grease flared up and burned Wismond – who was not wearing a shirt – on his chest and arms.

Wismond quickly extinguished the fire and was driven to the South Jersey Regional Medical Center by his girlfriend, where he was treated for first and second degree burns on eight percent of his body surface.

Wismond visited his family doctor a few days later, and was referred to Dr. David Watts of the Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Institute; who diagnosed Wismond as having first, second and third degree burns over fifteen to twenty percent of his body.

Dr. Watts told Wismond that he needed surgery very quickly to give the skin the best chance to heal, and he scheduled Wismond in for outpatient surgery the next day.

When Wismond returned the following day, skin was taken from his thighs and grafted to both forearms and the right side of his chest. However, after the surgery, Wismond was left in a considerable amount of pain and, as there was also significant scarring, Wismond sought the opinions of several other doctors.

The doctors unanimously agreed that Wismond´s wounds would have healed without surgery and left only minor scarring. They found that burns that had been characterized by Dr. Watts as third degree had healed very well where surgery had not been performed – indeed, far better than any burns the plastic surgeon had treated.

Wismond sued Dr. Watts for compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery; supporting his claim with testimony by a competent surgeon that Wismond had not experienced any third degree burns. His expert witness also stated that Dr. Watts had scheduled surgery too soon after the cooking accident.

Watts denied that he had been negligent and found his own expert witness who said that the plastic surgeon´s treatment of Wismond had met the required standard of care. With no mediated or negotiated settlement obtainable, the claim for compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery proceeded to court, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Shirley Robins-New.

After four days of testimonies, the jury took just one hour to find in Wismond´s favor, and they awarded him $3 million compensation for unnecessary skin graft surgery.


Birth Injury Compensation for Damaged Nerves Awarded at Court

A boy from Grand Falls in Michigan has been awarded $9.43 million birth injury compensation for damaged nerves after a jury hearing in Kent County.

Digby Maring (now 4½ years of age) was born weighing 9 lbs in October 2009. His mother´s pregnancy had been without complications until Digby developed shoulder dystocia during the later stages of his delivery. The physician in charge of the delivery – Stacyann Steen M.D. – ordered the family attending the birth out of the delivery room while she tried to free Digby´s shoulder but, due to using excessive force, Digby was born with damaged nerves in his shoulder and now only has 10% use of his arm.

Dr. Steen´s responses when questioned about Digby´s arm was that it would be better by the next day; but, whereas many less-traumatic nerve damage injuries can heal within several days or weeks, Digby´s condition failed to improve. In December 2009, Digby was diagnosed with avulsion nerve root injuries caused by excessive force. It transpired that during Digby´s delivery three nerve roots had been ripped from his spine – causing permanent nerve damage.

Through his mother – Emily – Digby claimed birth injury compensation for damaged nerves against Dr. Steen and her employers – Advantage Health Physicians PC. Medical experts supporting the claim said that Digby´s nerve damage had been caused by Dr Steen “torquing” the infant´s head to free the trapped shoulder. Dr. Steen denied the allegations that she had failed to implement the necessary standard of care and used excessive force during Digby´s delivery.

With no resolution reached through negotiation or mediation, the claim for birth injury compensation for damaged nerves went to the Kent County Circuit Court where it was heard before Judge Mark A. Trusock. At the hearing, lawyers representing Digby claimed that his damaged nerves would be a hindrance to his earning capacity later in life and that he would need specialized care and attention while he was growing up and during adulthood.

After a four-day hearing, the Kent County jury voted 6-1 in favor of Digby´s claim, and awarded him $9.43 million birth injury compensation for damaged nerves to account for his past and future pain and suffering, and for his future loss of earnings.


Medical Negligence Claim for an Avoidable Stroke Resolved in Court

A jury in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, has awarded $7.4 million compensation to a man after hearing his medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke.

On April 16, 2010, Finis Cuff (61) from Darby in Delaware County visited his physician – Dr Douglas L Keagle – at the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital for a check-up and to have his blood pressure measured. Finis had, for many years, suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes, and he had already been prescribed medication to address both health issues.

Dr Keagle recorded a blood pressure reading of 184/94, and he told Finis to continue with his medication. On his next check-up, Finis´ blood pressure had risen to 200/80. Dr Keagle increased Finis´ medication and told him to return in four weeks; but, two days later, Finis suffered a large hypertensive stroke.

Due to the stroke, Finis lost the use of his right arm and both his legs, and had to rely on his wife for day-to-day care. However, Finis´ wife died in tragic circumstances when she suffered a fatal asthma attack and – unable to call for help or attend to her needs – she died in front of him.

After seeking legal advice, Finis made a medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke against Dr Keagle – alleging that as a direct proximate cause of the doctor´s failure to intervene and provide appropriate medical attention, Finis´ elevated blood pressure was allowed to elevate to the level at which he suffered a stroke.

Dr Keagle contested the medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke, and argued that Finis´ stroke had been brought on by years of self-neglect. The defense prepared on the doctor´s behalf claimed that Finis smoked a packet of cigarettes a day and took no medications to control his diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia between 2006 and 2008.

It was also claimed by the defense that Finis had been diagnosed (in 2008) with high cholesterol and obesity, and that the stroke was not attributable to high blood pressure, but atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries – which had developed over many years due to Finis´ refusal to follow the advice given to him by Dr Keagle.

With no negotiated resolution to the medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke, the case went to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, where it was heard by a jury before Judge Spiros Angelos. After a seven day hearing, and four and a half hours of deliberations, the jury returned a partial verdict in favor of Finis – assigning him 39% comparative negligence.

The adjusted settlement of his medical negligence claim for an avoidable stroke was $7.4 million and included $3.5 million for his pain and suffering, $2.6 million for future medical expenses and care needs, and $350,000 for future loss of earnings. The remainder of the settlement ($950,000) was awarded to the estate of Finis´ wife.


Claim for an Injury due to a Negligent Hair Removal Treatment Resolved in Court

A claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment has been resolved in court with the plaintiff being awarded $1.5 million.

Paige Peterson (22), a student from Hunterdon County in New Jersey, made her claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment after visiting the Hunterdon Family Practice and Obstetrics Clinic in Flemington in July 2010, and undergoing hair removal treatment on her arms.

The physician who attended Paige – Dr. Lisa Plunkett – had performed the treatment on Paige several times before but, soon after this appointment, Paige developed rectangular-shaped second-degree burns from her wrists up to the middle of her forearms.

It took a year for the 1.5 x 0.5 inch stripes along Paige´s arms to diminish – during which time she had to wear sunscreen lotion under long-sleeved clothing. When she was allowed to dispense with the precautions against further damaging her skin, Paige found that when her arms tanned, the burned portions of her arms remained pale.

Page subsequently made a claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment against Dr. Plunkett – alleging that the physician had deviated from the standard of care for laser hair removal treatment by performing the procedure while Paige had significantly sun tanned arms.

In her legal action, Paige claimed that the laser device used in the hair removal treatment cannot differentiate between dark hair and dark skin pigmentation, and this resulted in the laser burning her skin. She also claimed that the injury was permanent and that she will have to wear long-sleeved clothes for the rest of her life.

The claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment was contested by Dr. Plunkett, whose legal representatives argued that Paige´s condition was caused by a naturally occurring and known reaction to the treatment. Unable to come to a negotiated settlement, the case was heard by a jury at the Hunterdon County Supreme Court before Judge Michael F. O´Neill.

After nine days of testimony and 3 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Paige – awarding her $1.5 million compensation in resolution of her claim for an injury due to a negligent hair removal treatment.


Patient Who Lost Sight during Operation Wins Claim against Surgical Consultant

A compensation claim against a surgical consultant has been settled at the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County in favor of a patient who lost his sight due to medical malpractice.

In 2008, Bruce Drainer met with surgical consultant Dr Hagop DerKrikorian at the Riddle Memorial Hospital in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, to seek treatment for a back complaint that had started as a work injury three years previously and had subsequently been diagnosed as a degenerative disc disease.

Dr DerKrikorian advised Bruce that he should undergo surgery to repair his damaged spinal discs, but Bruce resisted having an operation until January 2012. According to information obtained from court papers, the pre-operation procedures went to plan; Bruce was anesthetized prior to the operation and placed in the prone position.

When Bruce awoke from the anesthesia, he was unable to see. When he fully recovered from the operation, it also became apparent that the operation had failed to repair his damaged spinal discs and he was still in considerable pain. Bruce subsequently underwent two further surgeries to resolve the problem.

After seeking legal advice, Bruce made a compensation claim against the surgical consultant. An investigation into the operation found that during the surgery Bruce developed arterial hypotension. It was also alleged that the length of the operation – in excess of eight hours – was the cause of Bruce losing his sight, and that he had received too much of one intravenous fluid and too little of another. It was also claimed that Bruce´s blood pressure had been inadequately monitored throughout the procedure.

Defense lawyers contested the claim against the consultant surgeon and argued that Bruce´s post-operative blindness could have been due to any number of factors. They pointed to his medical record of treatment for obesity, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, severe degenerative joint disease and suspected sleep apnea, and highlighted his diabetes which – they claimed – “was not well controlled”.

The claim against the surgical consultant was heard by a jury before Judge Charles Burr II at the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County. The jury heard that operations to repair spinal disc damage often take more than four hours and that no risk factors had been identified prior to surgery that would pre-dispose Bruce to post-operative blindness.

Bruce´s lawyers countered by arguing that if the surgery had been performed within a reasonable amount of time, Bruce´s arterial hypotension treated effectively, the correct volumes of intravenous fluids administered and Bruce´s blood pressure monitored correctly, he would not have suffered post-operative blindness. The jury found in Bruce´s favor, and awarded him $21.8 million in settlement of his claim against the surgical consultant.


Woman Recovers Compensation for Heart Attack Misdiagnosis after Court Hearing

A woman has been awarded $4 million by an Alabama jury in compensation for a heart attack misdiagnosis which led to the death of her husband.

Terry Hallmark (40) from Carbon Hill in Walker County started to complain of chest pains and feeling sick on the morning of January 11, 2008. Two days later he attended the Walker Baptist Medical Center, demonstrating the signs and symptoms of a heart condition, but he was sent home after being examined by Dr Charles E Shipman and diagnosed with a stomach bug.

Terry continued to feel unwell, and on January 15 he collapsed clutching his chest and told his wife – Donna – to call 911. Terry was taken by ambulance to hospital, but could not be revived and died the same day.

After seeking legal advice from a medical negligence attorney, Donna claimed compensation for the heart attack misdiagnosis – alleging that the standard of care delivered by Dr Shipman was inadequate and that the Emergency Room doctor should have considered a cardiac problem and ordered a blood test to rule out cardiac damage or an ischemia.

Dr Shipman contested that he was at fault for Terry´s death, and the claim for compensation for a heart attack misdiagnosis was heard by a jury at the Walker County Circuit Court in Alabama before Judge Hoyt M. Elliot.

After a seven-day trial, the jury delivered a verdict in favor of Donna, and awarded her $4 million in medical negligence compensation for the heart attack misdiagnosis – believed to be the most substantial settlement of a medical negligence case in Walker County.

Speaking after the verdict had been announced Donna´s medical negligence attorney said that the size of the compensation settlement sends a message to ER doctors about what they must do before sending a sick patient home. Dr Shipman´s attorney declined to comment until a decision is made on whether or not the doctor will appeal the verdict.


Brain-Damaged Woman to get Compensation for Administration of Wrong Medicine

A woman who suffered brain damage after being injected with a nasal decongestant instead of an anesthetic has been awarded $5.1 million compensation for the administration of the wrong medicine by a court in Philadelphia.

On 7 June 2010, Jacqueline DiTore attended the Abington Surgical Centre in Pennsylvania for elective surgery her nose. Prior to starting the surgery, Dr Warren Zager asked a nurse to prepare an injection of 1 percent lidocaine as an anesthetic and cotton wall balls soaked in Afrin to control the bleeding during the procedure.

The nurse poured the Afrin into an unlabeled cup in order to soak the cotton wool balls before preparing the anesthetic; but a second nurse mistook the contents of the cup to be lidocaine and drew the liquid up into a syringe which she then handed to the doctor.

Dr Zager injected the Afrin into Jacqueline´s nose and then started to prepare for the surgery. The anesthetist noticed that Jacqueline´s heart rate had dropped to 36 beats per minute and – unaware that Jacqueline had been injected with Afrin – administered glycopyrrolate (an anticholinergic) which brought Jacqueline´s heart rate back up to 80 beats per minute.

When Dr Zager returned to his patient, Jacqueline still had a sensation in her nose and the doctor asked for more 1 percent lidocaine – but was told that the surgery only had 2 percent lidocaine. It was then that the error was discovered, but Dr Zager chose to proceed with the surgery and used the 2 percent lidocaine to anesthetize Jacqueline´s nose.

Following the injection of lidocaine, Jacqueline´s heart rate leapt to 140 beats per minute with a blood pressure of 260/150 and at that point labetalol was administered (a drug used to lower high blood pressure). This caused Jacqueline´s blood pressure to bottom out and she went into cardiac arrest. Jacqueline passed out and was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital where she was resuscitated.

As a result of the cardiac arrest, Jacqueline suffered brain damage and now has impaired cognitive abilities, difficulty with her sight and speech, and short-term memory loss. Doctors told her that her condition is likely to deteriorate as she gets older and, after seeking legal advice, Jacqueline claimed compensation for the administration of the wrong medicine against the Abington Surgical Centre and Dr Zager.

Both defendant´s denied that they were responsible for Jacqueline´s injury, contesting that Dr Zager was right to continue with the nasal procedure as the lidocaine that was administered in the second injection did not compound the effect of the Afrin and therefore did not contribute to her reaction. It was also argued that Jacqueline was “high-functioning”, and that her injuries were not as bad as they had been portrayed.

Jacqueline´s compensation claim for the administration of the wrong medicine went before Judge Thomas M. Del Ricci at the Montgomery County Court in Philadelphia and, after considerable deliberations, the jury found Dr Zager 38.5 percent negligent and the Abington Surgical Center 61.5 percent negligent – awarding Jacqueline $5.1 million compensation for the administration of the wrong medicine.


Girl Awarded $32.8 Million Compensation for Birth Injuries due to Nursing Negligence

A girl has been awarded $32.8 million compensation for birth injuries due to nursing negligence following a hearing at the Chester County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania.

On 14 November 2009, Leslie Ciechoski was admitted to the Phoenixville Hospital, having gone into labor after a relatively smooth pregnancy. However, at around 1.00am the following morning, her baby´s fetal heart rate dropped from a normal level of 150 beats per minute to 60 beats per minute – with the probable cause being a kink in the umbilical cord which prevented oxygen being transported to the fetus´ brain.

Two of the nurses on duty – Christine Winter and Lana Jones-Sandy noticed the decline in heart rate, but failed to advise Leslie´s OB-GYN – Dr. Amy Cadieux – and the dangerous situation was only acted upon when Dr. Cadieux visited her patient at 1:20am.

Dr Cadieux instructed the two nurses to summon an anesthesiologist and contact their supervisor in order that an emergency Cesarean Section operation could be performed; but it was not until 1:29am that the hospital supervisor was contacted and not until 1:36am that the anesthesiologist could be located.

Lily Ciechoski was delivered at 1:49am, and diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy as the result of oxygen starvation. Now four years of age, Lily has difficulty controlling her neck and speaks very little. She suffers from spasms in her arms and legs which make it difficult for her to walk.

On Lily´s behalf, her mother claimed compensation for birth injuries due to nursing negligence after a medical expert determined that, had Lily been delivered 15 to 17 minutes earlier, she would have only suffered minimal birth injuries.

The expert testified at the Chester County Court hearing, after which hearing Judge Robert Shenkin dismissed the Phoenixville Hospital and Dr Cadieux from the proceedings and the jury was sent to deliberate how much compensation for birth injuries due to nursing negligence Lily should receive.

After nine hours, the jury returned with a settlement figure of $32.8 million – which consisted of $800,000 for Lily´s lost earning potential in the future, $1 million for past and future non-economic “loss of amenity” and $31 million for future medical and care expenses.


Compensation Claims for Diagnostic Errors Outnumber other Malpractice Lawsuits

Researchers at the John Hopkins University have revealed that compensation claims for diagnostic errors outnumber any other type of medical malpractice lawsuit.

A team led by Associate Professor of Neurology David E Newman-Toker at the Baltimore University studied medical malpractice compensation claims settled between 1986 and 2010, and found that 28.6 percent of all medical malpractice compensation claims were due to diagnostic errors.

The criteria for identifying compensation claims for diagnostic errors were that a diagnosis had been missed, wrong or delayed – as detected by a subsequent correct diagnosis – from which the plaintiff had suffered a preventable loss of life, injury or avoidable deterioration of an existing condition.

Cases were also included in the study in which a plaintiff had received treatment for a condition which was not present, and the conclusion drawn by Professor Newman-Toker and his team was that “There’s a lot more harm associated with diagnostic errors than we imagined.”

The professor added, “Overall, diagnostic errors have been underappreciated and under-recognized because they’re difficult to measure and keep track of owing to the frequent gap between the time the error occurs and when it’s detected. These are frequent problems that have played second fiddle to medical and surgical errors, which are evident more immediately.”

The research showed that the majority of compensation claims for diagnostic errors originated from mistakes made in outpatient care and Emergency Rooms (68.8 percent vs. 31.2 percent for inpatients), but inpatient diagnostic errors were more likely to be fatal or result in a permanent disability (48.4 percent vs. 36.9 percent).

The report concluded from the study showed that diagnostic errors resulted in death or disability almost twice as often as other error categories (surgical mistakes and medication errors came in second and third) and that the settlement of claims for diagnostic errors accounted for 35.2 percent of the total medical malpractice compensation paid out during the period – $38.8 billion.

Based on the results of the study – which only covered instances of diagnostic errors which resulted in a lawsuit – researchers estimate that the number of patients who suffer a preventable loss of life, injury or avoidable deterioration of an existing condition could be as high as 160,000 each year.

Professor Newman-Toker said “experts have often downplayed the scope of diagnostic errors, not because they were unaware of the problem, but because they were afraid to open up a can of worms they couldn’t close.”



Judge Upholds Settlement of Surgical Complications Compensation Claim

A Pennsylvania judge has upheld the $19.5 million settlement of a surgical complications compensation claim made by the widower of a woman who underwent polyp removal surgery and later died from complications.

Mariann Pomroy (57) from Langhorne in Pennsylvania attended the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on 22 October 2008 to have a polyp removed from her colon. At the time of her surgery, Mariann had a number of health problems including renal disease, and had a previous medical history of multiple abdominal surgeries.

After the operation, Mariann´s surgeon – Dr Ernest Rosato – noted that the surgery had been more complicated than had been anticipated due to extensive adhesions from previous procedures, but gave no indication that the operation had not been successful.

However, while she was recovery from the surgical procedure, Mariann started to experience abdominal pain, had elevated blood potassium and decreased urine output. Her medical records showed that, as her health deteriorated, Mariann was transferred to intensive care and – on 2 November 2008 – underwent emergency surgery for intra-abdominal sepsis and gastrointestinal bleeding.

The second operation revealed an area of separation between Mariann´s right colon and terminal ileum which exposed some of her bowel. Because the bowel had swollen through the edema, Mariann´s abdominal cavity could not be closed until a third operation on 8 December 2008 – after which she remained hospitalized until March 2009, when she was considered sufficiently stable to be transferred to a long-term care facility.

While she was at the long-term care facility, Mariann had to undergo several surgical revisions for the treatment she had received at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She suffered a stroke, developed acute renal failure and ventilation dependent respiratory failure – all of which caused her severe and permanent disabilities. Mariann passed away on 12 August 2010.

After seeking legal advice, Mariann´s widower – George Pomroy – made a surgical complications compensation claim against Dr Rosato and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, claiming that Mariann´s death had been caused by medical malpractice and that the defendants had failed to conduct appropriate consultations prior to surgery, failed to properly close the anastomosis and failed to recognized the breach in the bowel which resulted in the second and subsequent surgeries.

The hospital and the executors for Dr Rosato – who had died since performing the procedure – denied the surgical complications compensation claim and the case was heard at the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in February 2013. After a week-long trial, the jury delivered a verdict in favour of George Pomroy, and awarded him $19.5 million in compensation for the wrongful death of his wife due to surgical complications.

The defendants appealed the verdict, but earlier this week Judge Mary Collins upheld the jury´s decision to award George Pomroy $19.5 million in settlement of his surgical complications compensation claim – stating that Dr Rosato (by way of his executors) had breached his duty of care to Mariann by performing colon surgery instead of a less-risky endoscopic procedure, which would have been more appropriate considering Mariann´s previous medical history.


Court Approves Compensation for Hospital Mistakes

A court in Leeds has approved a settlement of compensation for hospital mistakes made during the birth of a young girl who now suffers from athetoid cerebral palsy.

Judge Mark Gosnell at the High Court in Leeds was told of the circumstances preceding the birth of Ruby Curtis from Garforth in West Yorkshire; who was born at St James Hospital in Leeds on 28th August 2005, having suffered from a lack of oxygen in the womb due to the failure of hospital staff to identify that her mother´s uterus had ruptured.

The court heard that Ruby´s mother – Lisa – had been given medication to aid her contractions, but staff were slow to notice Lisa´s injury and subsequently Ruby´s delivery was avoidably delayed. Ruby was born with athetoid cerebral palsy – a form of cerebral palsy which affects her head and body, all four of her limbs, and is responsible for involuntary muscular movements.

Although Ruby has learned to use her eyes to communicate, she needs assistance in all aspects of her daily life, including feeding, personal care and education. Ruby´s mother gave up working after her birth to become her full-time carer and now Ruby attends the specialist Percy Hedley School for children with cerebral palsy in Killingworth.

Ruby´s mother made a claim for compensation for the hospital mistakes after seeking legal advice and, after years of pursuing her claim, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust eventually admitted their “majority” liability for Ruby´s birth injuries and a compensation settlement was negotiated that would see Ruby receive a lump sum payment of £2.95 million in compensation for hospital mistakes with payments made annually to provide for her care thereafter.

At the High Court in Leeds, Judge Mark Gosnell was told that a settlement of compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy had been agreed, which will see Ruby receive £2.95 million as a lump sum payment to pay for her care, education costs and special accommodation near her school, with ongoing annual tax-free payments to provide the care Ruby needs when she reaches adulthood.

Approving the settlement, Judge Mark Gosnell noted that the funds would be managed by the Court of Protection and said to Ruby´s parents that the compensation for hospital mistakes should secure “a better family life for both you and Ruby”. He added that he hoped an apology read out in court on behalf of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust would give them some sense of closure.


Injury Claims for NHS Negligence Increase by More Than 18 Percent

Figures released by the Compensation Recovery Unit of the DWP have revealed an 18.4 percent in the number of injury claims for NHS negligence settled in the past year.

According to statistics recently published, the Compensation Recovery Unit recovered state benefits and healthcare costs from 16,006 injury claims for NHS negligence in 2012/2013 – an increase of 18.4 percent on the corresponding figure from the previous year (13,517) and more than 80 percent up on figures from five years ago (2007/2008 – 8,876).

The size of the increase prompted Margaret Hodge – chairperson of the Commons Public Accounts Committee – to describe the figures as “deeply worrying” and stated that the quality of healthcare provided by the NHS was a “major concern”. However, medical and legal experts had their own views on the reason for the increase.

Chief Executive of the Patients Association – Katherine Murphy – commented “I think the public has become far less tolerant about putting up with appalling failings in care, but most people only pursue legal action when every other avenue has failed” and her opinion was mirrored by a leading medical negligence lawyer who said “In the past, victims of medical accidents often had moral reservations about claiming against the NHS, despite having clearly suffered extreme negligence in some cases, but the shocking findings of the Francis report have now made hospitals fair game in the eyes of the public.”

When approached by news agencies for a comment, a spokesperson from the Department of Health said “Whilst we know the vast majority of patients get good, safe care, the best way to reduce compensation claims is to improve patient safety further – and this is a priority.” He added that the National Health Service has sought outside help to encourage “a zero-harm culture in the NHS” which will ultimately reduce the number of injury claims for NHS negligence.


Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Terminal Lung Cancer Resolved Out of Court

A family´s claim for the misdiagnosis of terminal lung cancer has been resolved out of court following the death of Frank Golby in February 2012.

Frank, who was aged 65 at the time of his death, had been referred to Coventry University Hospital in May 2010 by his family GP after complaining of a persistent cough and underwent a CT scan. The scan revealed a 1cm-wide nodule in Frank´s left lung; however this was overlooked by his doctors, who diagnosed a chest infection.

The scan was never reviewed, despite Frank returning to the hospital on several more occasions complaining of breathing problems; but, in February 2012, a chest x-ray showed that the lump had grown to five times its original size. Assurances that all was well – and that Frank would be home with his family in Whoberley within a few days – were found to be incorrect, as Frank died the following day.

Frank´s family made a claim for the misdiagnosis of terminal lung cancer after seeking legal advice, alleging that Frank would have lived for a further ten years had the cancer been correctly identified when he underwent the original scan in 2010 when the condition was treatable.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust reviewed Frank´s treatment and acknowledged that a mistake had been made. They hospital authority issued an apology to the family and the claim for the misdiagnosis of terminal lung cancer was resolved out-of-court for an undisclosed five figure sum.


Woman Awarded Compensation for Failed Gastric Band Operation

A woman has been awarded £35,000 in compensation for a failed gastric band operation after doctors negligently failed to close an incision in her stomach which led to complications.

Rachel Benefer (28) – a mother of two from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire – underwent the operation in 2007 at the Classic Hospital in Hull after her weight had risen above nineteen stones due to polycystic ovary syndrome.

Surgeons at the hospital initially thought that the operation had been a success, but Rachel developed a hernia in her small bowel due to the failure to properly close an incision in her stomach and she developed an inflammation of the abdominal wall and acute peritonitis as a consequence.

Rachel lapsed into a coma and spent five weeks in hospital – during which time she had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy procedure and have further surgery to treat the hernia. As a result of her ordeal, Rachel suffered from mild depression and has permanent scars from surgery on her abdomen.

After seeking legal advice, Rachel made a claim for compensation for a failed gastric band operation against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust and, shortly before a hearing into her case was scheduled, the Trust admitted liability for her injuries and a settlement of £35,000 was negotiated.


High Court Upholds Nurse Manual Handling Injury Claim

The High Court in London has upheld a nurse manual handling injury claim for compensation after finding the senior nurse in question not guilty of contributing to her own injuries.

In March 2008, senior nurse Sue Germaine was employed by Epsom Hospital in the Outpatients Department. Arriving early at work one morning to prepare the department for the day´s clinics, she found that contractors had moved the rows of metal seating in the waiting area to lay new flooring but have left them blocking the doors to the consulting rooms.

Sue requested the assistance of porters to move the seating back into its normal position, but was told that none would be available until after lunch. She also requested help from the maintenance department, but was told it was not part of their job description and reported the situation to the project manager who had been in charge of overseeing the contractors.

As the Outpatients Department opened – and patients were arriving who needed somewhere to sit – Sue decided to move the metal rows of seating herself. It was when she moving the last one into place that she injured her back. Sue reported her injury to her line manager and the appropriate incident and injury reports were made.

Sue subsequently had to give up her job due to her injury, and made a nurse manual handling injury claim to recover damages for the pain she had experienced at the time of her injury and compensate for her loss of income. Epsom and St Heller University Hospitals NHS Trust admitted partial liability for Sue´s back injury, but claimed that she had contributed to her injury by not following her manual handling training.

However, at the High Court in London, Judge Simon Brown QC threw out the argument of contributory negligence against Sue´s nurse manual handling injury claim; ruling that the hospital´s training had been specific to a nurse´s role and did not cover the lifting of furniture. Furthermore Judge Brown stated that guidance for nurses of patient handling was that it should be avoided “wherever practicable”. It had not been reasonably practical for Sue to avoid moving the seating in the circumstances of having asked for help and having been denied it.

Sue´s nurse manual handling injury claim will now proceed to be assessed for damages.


Compensation for Fatal Negligent Hospital Procedure Awarded to Widower

The widower of a woman who died following a “routine” hernia operation is to receive £150,000 compensation for fatal negligent hospital procedure in an out-of-court settlement.

Helen Blyth (79) underwent the hernia operation at Northampton General Hospital on 2nd March 2010 after being diagnosed with a large hiatus hernia which had entered her chest through her diaphragm. At 8.00pm on the evening of her surgery, medical staff recorded a fall in Helen´s blood pressure and, at 1.00am on 3rd March 2010, she was found unresponsive. Despite efforts to revive her, Helen died at 1.55am.

At the inquest into Helen´s death in September 2010, the surgeon who performed the operation – Mr David Cubbon Hunter – testified that Helen died due to a rare complication following surgery; however Helen´s husband – Sydney Blyth – asked lawyers to look more closely into the circumstances surrounding Helen´s cardiac arrest and death.

The lawyers – through their medical expert – found that Mr Hunter had used Pro Tack staples during the surgery despite the manufacturer´s advice that their product should not be used in procedures when the hiatus hernia was in the diaphragm. The lawyers alleged that Mr Hunter either knew of the risks involved, and chose to ignore them, or was unaware of the warning – both scenarios being negligent in his line of work.

Sydney made a claim for compensation for fatal negligent hospital procedure against Mr Hunter and the Northamptonshire General Hospital NHS Trust and, after an internal investigation, the Trust acknowledged liability for Helen´s wrongful death and settled Sydney´s claim for £150,000.


Hospital Negligence Compensation Liabilities Bankrupting NHS Claims CEO

The Chief Executive of the Medical Defence Union – Dr Christine Tomkins – has claimed that the current level of hospital negligence compensation settlements is bankrupting the National Health Service.

Speaking a guest on the BBC´s ‘Today’ program, Dr Tomkins told presenter Justin Webb that, due to the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act of 1948, settlements of hospital negligence compensation were being calculated without consideration of the services available on the NHS and therefore based on the cost of private care.

Money which could be retained within the NHS, she claimed, is pouring out of the public purse to set up “one-patient institutions” and, because of this, settlements of hospital negligence compensation were rising faster than society´s ability to pay for them.

Dr Tomkins commented that the NHS Litigation Authority has periodic payment liabilities of £18bn – sufficient to pay the yearly running costs of twelve teaching hospitals – and that if the care available on the NHS was utilised instead of being out-sourced privately, this liability would decrease significantly.

Justin Webb then introduced Clare Scott onto the show. Clare´s son Charlie was only recently awarded a hospital negligence compensation settlement valued at £7.1 million for the avoidable injuries he sustained during his birth at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital in 1998.

Clare acknowledged that some of the care and equipment from which her son will now benefit could be provided by the NHS, but said that the compensation settlement will mean Charlie no longer has to wait for assessments by her local social services before being provided with the care he needs.

Clare added that the size and structure of the hospital negligence compensation settlement gives her son the security of 24-hour care when she, or the NHS, would be unable to provide it.


Woman Receives Gynaecological Negligence Compensation after Inadvertent Termination

A woman, who was found to be fourteen weeks pregnant during a hysterectomy procedure, has successfully made a claim for gynaecological negligence compensation against the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

The unnamed woman underwent the hysterectomy procedure in November 2007, during which it was discovered that she was fourteen weeks pregnant. The procedure had been allowed to continue despite the consultant gynaecologist noticing that the patient´s uterus was “abnormally large” but, by the time the foetus had been discovered, the woman´s cervix had been removed and a continuation of the pregnancy was unviable.

The woman made her claim for gynaecological negligence compensation on the grounds that the avoidable termination of the foetus prevented her and her partner from having the son they longed for and, although she had sustained no physical injury due to the error, both she and her partner had suffered a significant emotional trauma when the consultant´s negligence had been revealed to them. She claimed that, had she known she was pregnant at the time of the hysterectomy operation, she would not have gone ahead with the procedure.

Following an investigation into the tragedy, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust admitted that an “inadvertent termination” had taken place and acknowledged their liability in the patient´s gynaecological negligence compensation claim. After negotiations with the woman´s lawyers, an out-of-court settlement of £62.000 in gynaecological negligence compensation was agreed upon.


Hospital Admits Liability in Compensation Claims for Breast Screening Errors

The North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has admitted liability in three compensation claims for breast screening errors which erroneously indicated that the women were not suffering from breast cancer.

The claims for compensation were made following the suspension of the breast screening service at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven in June 2010 after “serious problems” were uncovered by a Quality Assurance team.

After a major investigation into the routine screening service at the two hospitals concluded that insufficient follow-up tests were carried out, more than 1,600 mammograms were reviewed and 180 women were called back for further checks – with 16 of those originally given the all-clear now being treated for cancer.

In cases where the negligent interpretations of the mammograms and lack of follow-up tests had affected the women´s treatment, prognosis or life expectancy, those women were entitled to make compensation claims for breast screening errors and – after more than two years of waiting – the NHS Trust has now admitted liability in three of the cases.

Mike Walker, the Trust’s medical director said: “We are now in a position to accept liability in three cases and have apologised to the women involved. This organisation is committed to providing an excellent service and we recognise the importance of learning from mistakes of this nature. We have taken steps to ensure a similar incident does not occur and apologise unreservedly for shortcomings in their care.”

The two hospitals have now resumed the breast screening service under the supervision of experts from Newcastle.


Compensation Claim for Delayed Treatment Resolved in $8 Million Settlement

A family who made a claim for delayed treatment after their son suffered brain damage at birth are to receive a compensation package estimated to be worth six million pounds.

Joseph O´Reggio (11) from Wolverhampton, West Midlands, was delivered at the city´s New Cross Hospital in April 2001 following an alleged failure by the hospital staff to act on monitor readings from his mother – Rachel – which indicated that Joseph´s heart rate had dropped.

A specialist was not summoned to assess Rachel´s condition for nearly twelve hours – during which time Joseph suffered from oxygen starvation in the womb and was born with severe cerebral palsy – unable to speak or feed himself and requiring 24-hour care.

Joseph´s parents made a compensation claim for the delayed treatment against the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, claiming that Joseph´s injuries could have been prevented if maternity staff at the hospital had acted on the readings which were being displayed by the heart rate monitor.

The Trust initially denied its liabilities for Joseph´s injuries but, during a High Court hearing last year, admitted that Joseph should have been born an hour earlier. An agreement was negotiated in which the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust would not have to acknowledge their liability, but would make periodic payments to the family based on 80 percent of what a full settlement of compensation for delayed treatment would amount to.

At the Royal Courts of Justice it was announced that after a full assessment of the claim for delayed treatment compensation and Joseph´s anticipated life expectancy, the family would receive a package which was valued at six million pounds – sufficient for the family to move into a specially adapted home and provide care for Joseph for the remainder of his life.


102 Year Old to get Compensation for Premature Hospital Discharge

A 102 year old woman has been awarded compensation for a premature hospital discharge after she was sent home from a hospital accident and emergency department despite having sustained a broken pelvis.

Lydia Eaton from Wigmore in Kent was taken to the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham in March 2007 after experiencing a fall near her home which resulted in a broken pelvis. Medics at the hospital examined Lydia and discharged her after just eight hours, due to which – it was claimed in London´s High Court – Lydia´s condition deteriorated both physically and mentally and caused her to be moved to a specialist care home the following month.

Lydia´s daughter, Elaine Griffin, brought a claim for premature hospital discharge compensation against the Medway NHS Trust, alleging that her mother was only provided with painkillers which made her ill and lose a considerable amount of weight. Elaine also claimed that, as Lydia´s condition deteriorated, she developed sores and ulcers, and neither support nor advice was forthcoming from the hospital on how to deal with the situation.

Judge Sweeney at the High Court heard that, as Lydia lost the ability to walk independently, she was moved to a second care home where she receives constant help and supervision. He agreed with the arguments put forward by lawyers representing Lydia and Elaine that, had it not been for the negligence of medical practitioners at the Medway Maritime Hospital, Lydia would still be able to walk.

Awarding Lydia 35,000 pounds in compensation for premature hospital discharge, Judge Sweeney ordered that the funds be placed in trust to pay for Lydia´s care.


Compensation for Heart Surgery Negligence Awarded in Court

A girl, who suffered oxygen deprivation and physical disabilities for the first thirty years of her life due to a surgical error shortly after she was born, has been awarded 1 million dollars in compensation for heart surgery negligence by a jury in Los Angeles.

The girl, who was not named in court, was born at the Huntingdon Hospital in Pasadena in May 1979, and operated on the day after her birth by Dr Alan Gazzaniga to repair a problem  with the child´s heart. The Los Angeles County Superior Court heard that the septal wall in the girl´s heart which separated the left and right atriums needed rebuilding, however during surgery Dr Gazzaniga had connected the vena cava artery – the artery which returns de-oxygenised blood to the heart – to the wrong side of the septal wall.

As a result of this mistake, blood was directed into the wrong side of the heart and the girl suffered from oxygen deprivation, physical disabilities and other general health problems as she grew up. Despite ongoing medical examinations, the error was not noticed until 2007 and shortly before the woman´s thirtieth birthday in April 2009, she underwent corrective surgery at USC Hospital in Pasadena.

The surgeon who had performed the corrective surgery testified in court that Dr. Gazzaniga´s work had been “baffling” and “incorrect” and, along with two other cardiothoracic surgeons, explained to the court how the negligent heart surgery occurred and what the consequences had been. In their client´s defence, Dr. Gazzaniga´s legal representatives argued that the case was so old it should be thrown out for being brought beyond the Statute of Limitations.

The woman´s counsel disagreed, contending that it was a reasonable assumption at the time of the original operation that Dr. Alan Gazzaniga had met the required standard of care, and the claimant could not have been expected to known that her heart condition was the result of medical negligence by her surgeon prior to the discovery of the error in 2007 – which was within the Statute of Limitations as the claim for heart surgery negligence compensation had been filed shortly after the woman underwent the corrective surgery in 2009.

The judge accepted the argument and, after three weeks of litigation, the jury returned a verdict in favour of the claimant. They determined that Dr Gazzaniga had shown a lack of care during the initial surgery and awarded the woman compensation for heart surgery negligence amounting to one million dollars.


Compensation for Quadriplegic Birth Injury due to Hospital Administration Negligence

A three-year-old boy, who suffered catastrophic brain injuries when his birth was delayed due to an “outdated, insensitive, and poorly maintained” ultrasound machine, has been awarded 78.5 million dollars in compensation for quadriplegic birth injury by a jury in Philadelphia.

The Honourable Mark Bernstein and the jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas heard how the Victoria Upsey (36) from Pottstown, Philadelphia, had attended the Pottstown Memorial Medical Centre in August 2008 displaying signs of a placental abruption when 36 weeks pregnant.

A foetal scan conducted on her admission proved inconclusive and, as it was a Sunday and the ultrasound technician was off work, the consultant obstetrician conducted an ultrasound test from which he concluded that the baby had died.

However, when the ultrasound technician was called in from home to check the obstetrician´s finding,  a heartbeat was detected – at which point an emergency Caesarean operation was scheduled and Victoria´s child was delivered.

Due to the delay caused by the obstetrician´s misdiagnosis and the oxygen deprivation suffered while still in the womb, the baby was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and will require a life time of care.

After taking legal advice, Victoria made a claim for quadriplegic birth injury compensation against the obstetrician, but in the discovery process prior to the court case, it was the ultrasound machine which was found liable for his error.

When questioned by Victoria´s lawyers, the hospital’s risk manager admitted there was no evidence the ultrasound equipment had been serviced for more than 10 years; whereas the manual indicated that annual maintenance was necessary.

The lawyers argued in court that it was effectively hospital administration negligence which was responsible for the devastating injuries sustained during the child´s birth and, after a period of deliberation, the jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas agreed with them.

Finding the hospital guilty of administrative negligence resulting in injury, the jury awarded the Upsey family a total of 78.5 million dollars in compensation for quadriplegic birth injury to account for the suffering of the child, the costs of his future care, prospective loss of earnings and to compensate Victoria for the emotional trauma she had experienced.


Erb’s Palsy at Birth Injury Settlement approved at £1m

A teenage girl, who suffered an Erb’s Palsy injury due to alleged negligence at her birth, has had a Erb’s Palsy Birth Injury compensation award of £1m approved in the High Court.

Sarah O’Sullivan (14), suffered a shoulder injury during her birth at hospital in 1997 which lead to her being diagnosed with right-sided Erb’s Palsy as she grew older. Claiming that the management of her birth was not handled properly and that the injury could have been avoided with due diligence, Sarah sued the hospital and consultant obstetrician Dr. Patrick Kieran through her father, Kevin.

Both the hospital and Dr. Kieran refuted the claims made against them, but the court heard that they had agreed to a birth injury compensation settlement of £1m without admission of liability.


Compensation for Fatal Delayed Treatment Awarded to Family

A Cork hospital has “apologised unreservedly” and paid 500,000 Euros in compensation for delayed treatment to the family of a man who died from septic shock after being admitted with abdominal pains.

Barry Murphy (38) from Carrigaline in County Cork was admitted to the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital in the morning of 24th April 2008. Barry, a financial controller who suffered from Crohn´s Disease, was diagnosed with a perforated bowel but surgery was delayed until late in the evening – by which time septic shock had taken over Barry´s body – and he was pronounced dead the same evening.

Barry´s wife, Mary, and her two daughters alleged that Barry had died due to medical malpractice, and took the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital to court, claiming compensation for delayed treatment and wrongful death. The hospital initially denied liability for Barry´s death, during which time Mary suffered significant psychological damage and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

However, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice John Quirke heard that the hospital now admitted that “the level of care provided to the late Mr Murphy fell short of an acceptable standard”, and was willing to pay compensation for delayed treatment amounting to 500,000 Euros. After ensuring that the settlement offer was acceptable to Barry´s widow, Mr Justice John Quirke approved the settlement, adding his own sympathy to Mary and her two daughters for the unthinkable tragedy.


Shoulder dystocia injury claim leads to £387,000 award for boy (14)

A shoulder dystocia injury claim led to Mr Justice John Quirke having “no hesitation” in approving an award of £387,000 to 14-year-old Gavin Dowling as compensation for the afflication caused at birth. In a case brought by boy´s mother, Mary Dowling of Coon West, County Kildare, the defendants, Dr Ashraf Aziz and the South Eastern Health Board, were accused of being negligent in failing to provide sufficient care at the time of Gavin´s birth in December 1995. The child sustained shoulder dystocia injury – an ailment which lead to Gavin developing Erb´s Palsy and severe restrictions in the use of his upper arm and left shoulder.

Dr. Aziz, who was practicing in Kilkenny at St Luke´s General Hospital when the time of the alleged incident occurred, and the South Eastern Health Board denied all the claims and agreed a settlement without admission of liability.

Gavin now has adequate power in his left wrist and hand, but will always have a shoulder disability according to his parents. Corrective surgery to attempt to cure the shoulder dystocia injury has been ruled out due to the possible risks involved.

As is standard for child injury claims for compensation, court approval was necessary before the award could be made. Gavin has been doing well at school and enjoys participating in sports activities despite his injury his suffers from.


Cerebral Palsy Birth Legal Claim results in £1.6m settlement

A six year old girl, who a cerebral palsy birth injury has seen her legal claim result in an interim settlement of £1.6m.

Isabelle Sheehan was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Ms Sheehan sustained her birth due to the acknowledged negligence of Dr David Corr, who was practising privately from Bon Secours Maternity Hospital, Cork, at the time of Isabelle’s birth in November 2004.

Isabelle’s claim was made through her mother Catherine, who alleged that Dr Corr should have referred her to an expert in foetal medicine when complications started during her pregnancy. Dr Corr stated that he had made a mistake and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill heard at the High Court that an interim settlement of £1.6m had been agreed between the parties.

The £1m settlement is to cover general damages and loss of future earnings for Isabelle, and to pay for the care provided already for the child and future care until October 2013. By that date, it is hoped that a system of periodic payments will be introduced for persons with catastrophic injuries. However, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill stated that if the necessary legislation was not enacted by that time, a lump sum payment must be provided.


Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Compensation case results in £1.7m award

A young girl, who was found to have cerebral palsy shortly after her birth, has had a compensation settlement of £1.7m approved in the High Court.

Deborah French, aged 24), was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after her birth in August 1987. Her parents brought a claim for birth injury compensation against consultant obstetrician Harry Murphy and the Health Board, alleging that Dr Murphy had been negligent in the lead up to and during Deborah’s birth.

The case was settled with no admission of liability by the defendants, a course of action supported by Mr Justice John Quirke as he approved the settlement, stating that the conflicting opinions offered by medical experts may have put the family at risk of getting nothing in a trial.

The judge recommended that the funds be allocated to Deborah’s parents – Ann and John French – in annual increments of £120,000.


Ectopic Pregnancy Negligence leads to £63k award to woman

A Tipperary woman has been awarded £63,000 in personal injury compensation following an ectopic pregnancy negligence case at the High Court.

Anne English (47), who was sent between hospitals while in severe and continuous pain from her ectopic pregnancy,

She underwent treated at the St Joseph’s Hospital, Clonmel, in 1996, with a suspected molar pregnancy – an unusual condition in which abnormal growth occurs instead of foetal tissue.

Anne was treated by consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Raymond Howard, who dismissed the molar pregnancy and suggested that Anne was suffering from a condition known as acute retrocecal appendicitis. Dr Howard then made arrangements for Anne to be transferred to Our Lady’s Hospital, Cashel, for a surgical opinion.

However, as Mr Justice Sean Ryan at the High Court heard, Dr. Howard had overlooked Anne’s true condition which was a ectopic pregnancy – one in which the embryo implants outside of the womb – and, when the pregnancy finally ruptured while Anne was at Our Lady’s Hospital, she was returned to St Joseph´s Hospital by hospital despite the fact that she was bleeding heavily and being in a critical condition.

On Ann’s return, Dr Howard sent her directly to the operating theatre, where anaesthetic measures had to be taken to resuscitate her and three litres of blood were removed from her peritoneal cavity. Ms English recovered from the incident but claimed she had been severely psychologically damaged by the incident and continues to suffer from it.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan found Doctor Howard’s oversight 40 per cent liable for the injury, and the Health Service Executive 60 per cent liable for the injuries suffered by Anne, and announced a personal injury compensation award of £63,000 should be paid to Anne stating “The decision to transfer her from the Cashel Hospital to Clonmel in this state amounted to gross negligence”.


Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis by Hospital

A man, whose wife died from following a breast cancer misdiagnosis by a hospital £92,000 settlement approved in the High Court.

Ann Moriaty was just 51 years old when initially diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2005. A mastectomy operation was carried out on her the following month, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy at St. James´s Hospital in Dublin. Thereafter she was given six-monthly reviews at St. James´s, where she was considered to be doing well and in remission from the cancer.

In June 2007, Ann started to suffer from weight loss and nausea. She attended, and was admitted to, hospital in on June 11th, where a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection was made and Ann was discharged on June 15 with a course of antibiotics. A chest X-ray was taken at the time which was reviewed and considered to be complication free.

Ann attended hospital again on August 11th suffering from the same symptoms and unable to eat or drink. An outpatient appointment was put in place for August 13, where she was prescribed an anti-emetic and discharged. However, an X-ray taken on August 9th at the hospital had revealed, it was alleged, a local bulge opacity and vague shadowing in the mid-left zone.

Although the family were relieved that there had been no reemergence of the cancer, Ann´s GP was still concerned about her health. On August 14th, she was sent to the emergency clinic where she was immediately admitted and a series of tests carried out. On August 16th, Ann and her family were told that the cancer had recurred and that it was at an advanced stage.

The distraught family sought verification of the later diagnosis at St. James´s Hospital, where it was confirmed that Ann indeed had extensive breast cancer with liver, brain and lung involvement. The hospital advised the family that the extent of cancer meant Ann’s illness was inoperable and, despite undergoing further radiotherapy, Ann died in April 2008.

Alleging that had his wife’s illness been diagnosed sooner, she would have survived longer with fewer symptoms, Ann´s husband – Karl Henry of Ennis, County Clare – and son Ciarán sued for damages for personal injuries, mental distress, loss, damage and loss of dependency. Hel claimed that Ann´s death had a devastating effect on both him and their son and that the consequent HSE public investigation had also caused significant distress.

The claims were denied, but Mr Justice John Quirke at the High Court heard that a settlement offer of £92,000 in compensation without admission of liability. Counsel for the bereaved family said that they were willing to accept the settlement and, stating that this was a “very sad case”, it was approved by the judge.


Birth Injuries and Medical Negligence in the UK see large settlement made

New figures have revealed that birth injuries and medical negligence in the UK are the single biggest contributor to the increase in medical compensation cases.

The highest awards for birth injuries typically involve cases where babies are starved of oxygen at birth. Low standards of care during maternity has been a common factor in many cases.

The total amount of compensation for the serious medical negligence claims over the past 14 years was £1.8 billion, with over 600 patients receiving over £1 million. Some 314 babies were left with cerebral palsy due to during birth injuries during this period. Two recent awards illustrate the issues created by child births, which can lead a child needing lifelong long-term care: a ten year old boy was awarded £7.1 million due to severe brain damage from birth and another child received a settlement of £9.7 million compensation after being left badly disabled by a birth injury.