A number of cases of compensation being awarded to patients who were the victims of medical negligence have been reported in the media recently.
One such case involved a teenage girl who has permanent nerve damage in her shoulder as a result of medical errors when she was born.
Courtney Webb was born at Liverpool Women’s Hospital in October 1999 but during labour her shoulders became stuck, reports the Liverpool Echo. At that point, a caesarean section would normally have been carried out, but medical staff instead decided to proceed with a natural birth.
This decision caused permanent nerve damage, and Courtney developed Erb’s palsy, which causes reduced mobility in her arm.
Her compensation claim was heard in court, where the judge agreed that doctors should have carried out a caesarean section and awarded compensation that has been described as a ‘significant sum.
A spokesperson for the hospital expressed its regret for what had happened to Courtney and issued assurance that the hospital’s clinical practices have improved significantly since then.
A second case involved a girl from Northern Ireland who was starved of oxygen during her birth and as a result has been left severely disabled.
The girl, who is now eight-years-old, was born in 2007 at Antrim Area Hospital, reports the BBC. There were delays in her delivery, which led to her suffering hypoxia, causing cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Her parents lodged a claim of medical negligence against Northern Health and Social Care Trust. The case had been due to be heard at Belfast High Court, but only days before the hearing the Trust admitted full liability, and compensation amounting to £5.3 million was awarded, which will help meet the costs of the girl’s ongoing care needs.
In a third case, a 54-year-old woman suffered a fatal heart attack in hospital following delays in treatment.
Sharon Ignatowics had a form of blood cancer and attended Leicester Royal Infirmary after contracting pneumonia, reports the Leicester Mercury. She was in hospital for around a month before being discharged, but returned two days later after becoming unwell.
When she returned she experienced a series of delays, including a long wait for necessary blood tests to be carried out. When these blood tests revealed that Mrs Ignatowics was suffering from high potassium levels, medical staff failed to take any action. She died from a heart attack a short time later. The family’s grief was compounded when it became apparent that six hours had passed before medical staff realised that Mrs Ignatowics had passed away.
Three years later, the family was awarded an undisclosed amount of compensation.
A hospital spokesperson apologised for the poor care Mrs Ignatowics had received. He said that Mrs Ignatowics had been at the final stages of her cancer, and no further treatment options were available, but acknowledged that the hospital’s failings meant that opportunities to extend her life were missed and her family were denied the chance to say their goodbyes.
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