post

On 27th April 2022, the High Court ruled that Government broke the law by failing care home residents who died of contracting COVID-19. The Government’s policy of discharging patients from hospital to care homes at the beginning of the pandemic was deemed to be “unlawful” and “irrational.

Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers died after contracting Covid, partially succeeded in their claims against the Health Secretary and Public Health England.

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that:

policies contained in documents released in March and early April 2020 were unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.”

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham suggested the guidance should have required patients to isolate from other patients for 2 weeks to avoid Covid spreading within the homes and added that these issues were not addressed until a further document in mid-April 2020.

The common law claim succeeded against the Secretary of State and Public Health England in respect of both 17 March 2020 and 2 April 2020 documents to this extent:

“the policy set out in each document was irrational in failing to advise that where an asymptomatic patient, other than one who had tested negative, was admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for 14 days”

The judges rejected other claims by Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris made under human rights legislation, and against NHS England.

It is estimated that more than 20,000 elderly or disabled care home residents died from COVID-19 in England and Wales between March and June 2020.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by this or have concerns about treatment from another NHS Trust please do not hesitate to contact us at Graystons on 0151 645 0055.  We will be happy to speak to see if we can help you in relation to suspected clinical negligence.

Please be assured there is no initial charge for getting in touch with us and if we are able to assist you in relation to a potential medical negligence claim, we may be able to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win No Fee Agreement).

 

Sources: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/04/27/discharging-covid-patients-care-homes-unlawful-high-court-rules/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/covid-government-unlawful-care-homes-b2066462.html

post

As reported by the BBC, an inquiry led by Dr Geraldine Strathdee, is investigating the deaths of 1,500 patients who died whilst under the care of NHS mental health service being provided in Essex.

The inquiry was established in January 2021 following concerns raised by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, after the death of two young males whilst under the care of NHS mental health services in Essex.

Dr Strathdee and her team will be looking into 21 areas of care provided by the mental health services in Essex, including the management of drug regimes, assessing the risk of patients who self-harm and/or attempt suicide, and the physical restraining of patients. So far, the inquiry has identified three main failings

  • Patients and their families being given too little information about their treatment and chances of recovery.
  • Big differences in the quality of the care patients received
  • Serious concerns about patients’ physical, mental and sexual safety while on a ward

Whilst it is encouraging that an inquiry is now underway, and has highlighted the massive failings on the part of the NHS Trusts involved, it has been criticised for being “non-statutory” and therefore not having the power to compel witnesses to testify.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected medical negligence relating to mental health care, one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options. Please be assured there is no initial charge for discussing this with us, along with how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).

post

Although each case is investigated and looked into based on the individual experiences that you or your loved one has been through, in order to be successful in bringing a medical negligence claim, all claims have to fit within the structures of the law.

Breach of Duty

You will hear your lawyer talk about liability and whether there has been a ‘breach of duty’. In investigating your claim, we will need to prove, backed up with medical evidence, that the clinicians involved in your care breached their duty of care which they owe to all of their patients. Crucially though, it is not enough to simply say that we are not happy with their care generally; we have to be able to prove that the level of care which they provided, or the clinical decisions that they made, failed to meet the standard of a reasonable body of other practitioners in that area of medicine.

Causation

Furthermore, if we have established that there has potentially been a breach of duty in your care, to proceed further in our investigations, we have to then go on to show that there is what is referred to in legal terms as ‘causation’. By this, we mean to say that as a direct result of that breach of duty that we have proved with evidence has occurred, you have gone on to suffer harm or damage. Importantly, we have to show that if that breach of duty had not have happened, you would not have gone on to suffer the damage that you now have.

It is only when we have proved both of these components that we can look at sending our allegations to the Defendant and look into settlement negotiations.

Medical negligence cases are known for being complex, and it takes time to get to each stage of our investigations, from requesting and reviewing your medical records at the very beginning of your claim, through to instructing and obtaining independent expert medical evidence to look at proving breach of duty and causation, and evaluating the prospects of success in your claim at every stage. Generally, successful claims can take approximately 2-3 years, but this is all entirely dependent on the individual facts of the case – with some claims taking less time and others requiring more time.

Your lawyers will always try to keep you updated, and a member of the team will always try to and answer any questions or queries you have at every step of the way.

post

As reported by The Law Society Gazette, this week the Department of Health revealed plans for a new regime of fixed recoverable costs in most clinical negligence claims valued up to £25,000.

In a highly anticipated consultation, the government said that they are “committed to addressing the unsustainable rising costs of clinical negligence” by streamlining the legal process for “lower value” clinical negligence claims and introducing fixed recoverable costs.

In turn they believe that this would allow for the resolution of cases “at a lower, more proportionate” cost than under the current system and would also increase the proportion of claims resolved before involving the courts.

If introduced, claims would be allocated to either a “light track” or a “standard track” depending on their complexity and degree to which liability is agreed from the outset.

With regards to costs, these would be capped at £6,000 for standard track claims plus 20% of damages agreed. For those claims allocated to the ‘light’ track, proposed recoverable costs would be no more than £1,500 plus 10% of damages.

It should be noted that claims requiring more than two liability experts, those with genuine multiple defendants and those involving stillbirths or neonatal deaths are excluded, as are those where limitation is raised by the defendant as an issue.

While ministers insist that the proposals are intended to target legal costs rather than compensation, the reality is that the changes may mean that many specialist clinical negligence lawyers will not be able to take on those claims considered to be low value thus potentially restricting access to justice for many.

If you have concerns that you or a family member have experienced clinical negligence, we may be able to investigate a potential claim for you. You can contact Graystons Solicitors by telephone on 0151 645 0055 or by email at enquiries@graystons.co.uk.

post

You may have heard of NICE Guidelines being referred to by doctors, nurses or practitioners when they are explaining a treatment plan and their reasons or by lawyers and medical experts when considering the standard of treatment provided.

NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.  The Guidelines they produce are the result of evidence based recommendations for health and care in England.   The evidence is usually provided and brought together by a team of those in the relevant field with the most knowledge, experience and research in the area that the guideline involves.  The Guidelines are a product of shared expertise from all over the country and this expertise is brought together for the benefit of us all.

There are many many different Guidelines and they are regularly updated as time passes and knowledge changes.  There are Guidelines that cover clinical care; social care; public health; medicines practice; cancer services and antimicrobial prescribing.

The NICE website explains that the ‘Guidelines set out the care and services suitable for most people with a specific condition or need, and people in particular circumstances or settings’.  In reality the Guidelines can be used as a standard for healthcare professionals when making everyday decisions.  For example, if a doctor is faced with a particular condition they can look to the Guidelines for the recommended action in that case.

In medical negligence claims the experts often look at the relevant Guideline as a starting point for considering whether a treating clinician acted appropriately.  It is not mandatory for a clinician to follow the Guideline as after all they are guidelines rather than a set of rules.  However, it is accepted in most cases that if NICE Guidelines are not followed that a clinician would have to have a good reason for departing from the Guideline and doing something different and this should be made clear in the medical records.  An example of this would be if the person was suffering another condition that needed to be considered in their treatment plan and a particular Guideline didn’t suit their needs.  In most cases though the Guideline should be followed.

If you are concerned that you have received substandard care and NICE Guidelines were not followed one of experienced team would be pleased to discuss your query and look to assist.  Please contact us on 0151 645 0055 or at enquiries@graystons.co.uk.

Author: Lydia Brindley

post

At some point in most people’s lives, they will require hospital treatment of some kind, ranging from minor procedures to more serious and complex operations.  Naturally, this causes a lot of anxiety and worry given the risks associated with surgery.  Whilst it is understood some risks of surgery, known as recognised risks, must be accepted and consented to by the patient prior to agreeing to the surgery, sometimes incidents occur which are entirely avoidable and should never happen.

A “Never Event” is defined by the NHS as an entirely preventable and serious incident that has the potential to cause or has caused harm to a patient.

Common examples include: –

  1. “Wrong site surgery” – for example the surgeon has operated on the patient’s wrong hand, arm, eye or even organ, although this may exclude interventions where the wrong site is selected because of unexpected abnormalities in the patient’s anatomy. This should be documented in the patient’s notes.
  2. “Wrong implant / prosthesis” – for example the implant/prosthesis placed in the patient is other than that specified in the surgical plan.
  3. “Foreign Objects” retained in patient after an operation – ‘Foreign object’ includes any items that should be subject to a formal checking process at the commencement of the operation and before the operation is completed. Examples include retained swabs, needles, or other surgical instruments.  There are exceptions to this including when the item is known to be missing and the “documented” intention of the surgical staff is to remove it at a later date, or if further action to remove the item prior to completion of the operation would cause more harm to the patient.

When a Never Event occurs, the NHS Trust concerned should inform the patient involved and carry out its own independent investigation.  The purpose of this investigation is to identify the cause and to take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of such incidents happening again.

Despite this positive action, Never Events are continuing to happen.  If the safety protocols and guidelines were followed on each and every occasion, then Never Events would not occur however the most common reason for the cause of such incidents is human error.

If you or a family member have been the victim of a Never Event, please contact us at enquiries@graystons.co.uk.  Graystons have the legal expertise to offer a free assessment and help you in bringing a claim in a timely and efficient manner, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

post

Spinal Problems: Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina affects the nerve roots that tail off from the spinal cord.  Symptoms of this syndrome can have a devastating and life changing impact.  Cauda equina syndrome is usually due to spinal disc damage that has been caused in the lower part of the spine called the lumbar region.  Damage may be caused by a single excessive strain or an injury which may have caused a herniated disc.

Symptoms can either occur very rapidly, or in the alternative may present in a slow manner – beginning as lower back pain that slowly progresses to difficulties in passing water or stools (or both!) when going to the toilet.  The severity of the symptoms depends on the degree of the compression to the spinal cord and where precisely the nerve roots are being compressed.

Luckily this is a rare disorder, however because it can be such a life changing condition, it is important to be aware of the red flags.  The reason why this is so important is because there is only a small window of opportunity to receive emergency treatment.  If this window of opportunity is missed it can potentially mean that the symptoms that may be affecting you, such as foot drop, incontinence, & numbness are irreversible.

  • Urinary retention: the most common symptom. The patient’s bladder fills with urine, but does not have the usual sensation or urge to urinate.
  • Urinary and/or faecal incontinence. The overfull bladder can result in incontinence of urine. Incontinence of stool can occur due to dysfunction of the anal sphincter.
  • Sensory disturbance, which can involve numbness in the ‘saddle’ area including the, genitals and buttock region.
  • Weakness or paralysis of usually more than one nerve root. The weakness can affect the lower extremities.
  • Pain in the back and/or legs (also known as sciatica).
  • Sexual dysfunction.

Any patient with any of these red flag symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.  Medical physical examinations, MRI & CT scans can identify whether Cauda Equina Syndrome is present.

Those experiencing any of the red flag symptoms should be evaluated by a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic spine surgeon as soon as possible. Prompt surgery is the best treatment for patients with this syndrome.

 

***

We at Grayston Solicitors specialise solely in Medical Negligence Law.  If you have concerns about the medical treatment that you or a loved one has received, including misdiagnosis or failure to treat Cauda Equina Syndrome, please contact us to see if we can help you in bringing a clinical negligence claim for compensation.  You can call us on 0151 645 0055 for an obligation-free chat.  If we are able to assist you we may be able to act for you on a No Win No Fee Agreement (Conditional Fee Agreement).

 

 

 

post

As reported by the Independent, Ambulance delays continue to put patients at undue risk. It is estimated that approximately 12,000 patients a year could be suffering severe harm as a result of Ambulance delays and long waits outside Accident & Emergency. It is estimated that 1 in 10 patients could suffer severe harm, such as a cardiac arrest, loss of a limb or brain damage.

The systemic problems within the health and social care system were highlighted in a report published by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), expressing that there is a lack of capacity and staff to meet rising patient demand.

The AACE report concluded that “unacceptable levels of preventable harm are being caused to patients”. The report also warned that these issues had been highlighted in 2012 and not enough had been done to resolve or at least reduce the issues.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected clinical negligence, one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options, including a formal complaint and a legal claim. There is no initial charge for discussing this with us and we will talk you through your options, including how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).”

post

As reported by itv news, a woman died as a result of sepsis, signs of which had been missed by numerous health professionals during a 3-week period following an abortion.

At inquest it was found that she had died of natural causes contributed to by neglect with Louise Rae, Coroner for Blackpool, noting there had been “gross failings” in her hospital care and “basic failings” from her GP and pharmacist. She commented that “it is staggering that she was spoken to in primary and secondary care and sepsis was not considered”.

While some of the delays in her care were attributed to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, it was found there remains a general lack of awareness around sepsis following medical abortions with the coroner calling for a better understanding of maternal sepsis.

The Deputy Medical Director of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation, Dr Grahame Good, issued an apology to the family and confirmed that the Trust fully accepted all of the findings of the inquest. He acknowledged that there were “clearly things that could have been done differently” with regards to the care and “while they may not ultimately have saved her life, could have played their part.” He provided assurances on behalf of the Trust that there had been a full investigation into the circumstances of the death, which has also been considered by The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch and recommendations made.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected clinical negligence, one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options, including a formal complaint and a legal claim. There is no initial charge for discussing this with us and we will talk you through your options, including how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).”

post

The Cauda Equina (horses’ tail) is a bundle of roots at the lower end of your spine which communicates with your brain and sends nerve signals back and forth regarding the sensory and motor functions of your lower limbs and the organs in your pelvic region.

Cauda Equina syndrome is very rare and is caused by nerves in the lower back suddenly becoming severely compressed. Symptoms include- sciatica on both sides, weakness, or numbness in both legs, numbing around genitals or anus and urinary retention/ incontinence (which is not usual for you). These symptoms can appear rapidly or over the course of several weeks/ months and CNS can be identified on an MRI, CT scan or Myelogram.

Cauda Equina syndrome requires emergency hospital admission and surgery to relieve the pressure on your nerves. It is very time sensitive and the best time to be treated is within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms. The longer Cauda Equina is left untreated, the greater the chances are of permanent paralysis and incontinence, impaired bladder or bowel control, difficulty walking and other neurological/ physical problems.

If you undergo surgery to treat Cauda Equina and it has impacted your ability to walk you may need physical therapy, and you may be advised to see a specialist if you have any incontinence/ sexual dysfunction. For long term treatment you may be given certain medication for your pain management or for better bladder/bowel control.

Cauda Equina may lead to a medical negligence claim if any reported symptoms are missed, this can result in the necessary MRI scan or surgery being delayed. If this is the case, then Cauda Equina deteriorates, and the symptoms become permanent.

If you have concerns that you or a family member have received substandard medical treatment and an injury has been suffered as a direct consequence, we may be able to investigate a potential claim for you, please contact Graystons Solicitors on 0151 645 0055.  Alternatively, you can email enquiries@graystons.co.uk and we can arrange to call you.