post

Complaints about Medical Treatment

If you are not satisfied with the medical treatment that you or a loved one has received, and have suffered an injury which you think could have been avoided, a first port of call for many will be to lodge a complaint. This informal approach for many can be enough to feel like your concerns have been answered.

 

NHS Hospitals

The hospital you would like to complain to will usually have a PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) based in the hospital itself. Its role is to offer confidential advice and support on matters to do with the hospital – including helping filing a complaint.

Where possible it is best to make a written complaint, containing details of your complaint, giving dates where you can and summarising the most important points which you would like to raise and setting questions you would like answers to.

After you have submitted your complaint the hospital should be able to advise you on how long they will take to respond and how to escalate your complaint not happy with their response.

 

GP Surgeries, Dental Practices and Private Hospitals

Each GP Surgery, Dental Practice or Private Hospital may have their own bespoke complaints procedure for how they deal with patient complaints, but as a general rule, the best mode of contact would be to send a written summary of what has happened, providing a list of questions which you would like to be addressed and sending this for the attention of the practice manager/legal department.

 

Making a medical negligence claim

Complaints are not the same as medical negligence claims. Many people choose to pursue a complaint alongside a medical negligence claim, or may have already started the process when they start speaking to solicitors to investigate a medical negligence claim. An important distinction to make is with a complaint, there is no financial redress. You may be offered an apology or be updated to policy or procedural changes if applicable, but there is no guarantee.

 

Time limits

When making a complaint, you should aim to submit your complaint within 12 months of your injury. There are circumstances where you can submit a complaint after this time period, but there is no guarantee that the healthcare provider will be able to handle your complaint if this is the case.

 

The time limit for pursuing medical negligence claims is 3 years from the date of the injury suffered, or the date that you reasonably became aware that you may have suffered negligent harm. As the investigative process takes time, it is always best to be mindful of these time limits and start investigating as early as possible.

 

If you would like to discuss a potential medical negligence claim, please call 0151 645 0055 to speak to one of our specialists.

post

The largest maternity scandal to ever hit the NHS has found that poor maternity care through The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust led to 295 avoidable baby deaths or brain damage cases .

There has been catastrophic failing over nearly 20 years according to the inquiry led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden.  The final Ockenden report can be found here.

https://www.ockendenmaternityreview.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/FINAL_INDEPENDENT_MATERNITY_REVIEW_OF_MATERNITY_SERVICES_REPORT.pdf

Several mothers also died through failings in medical care.  There was an overzealous pursuit to guide mothers to give birth naturally rather than being offered a freedom of choice and where a Caesarean would have been a much safer option.

It is reported that The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust didn’t perform their own investigations of misconduct properly were in a format not recognised by the NHS.  The Trust downgraded some investigations initially.

Of the 295 babies who died, it is likely that had they received appropriate care they would have survived.  There are 65 cases of Cerebral Palsy and severe brain injuries that are likely to have been avoidable.  It is also likely deemed that 9 women who died through labour, who would have reasonably been expected to survive if they had been treated correctly.

Numerous factors are at play including The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s failure to learn lessons from previous failings, staffing pressures and shortages, aggressive forceps deliveries and reluctance to listening to mums.

The report has looked at cases involving over 1400 families.  There were repeated failings in care from one incident to the next.  “ineffective monitoring of foetal growth and a culture of reluctance to perform Caesarean sections”. Dozens of children suffered life changing injuries as a result of the failures.

The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust is not the only Trust where questions have been raised about maternity care and similar investigations are being requested across the country.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by this scandal, or have concerns about maternity 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.independent.co.uk/news/health/shrewsbury-telford-hospital-maternity-scandal-nhs-live-b2046627.html

BBC Radio 2 (Jeremy Vine/Rob Sissons)

post

In March I was saddened to learn from BBC news about a lady who had initially ignored symptoms usually associated with lung cancer and instead put them down to Covid.

The BBC reported that a lady from Wales developed a cough in September 2021 and initially put it down to Covid and did not seek help.  When symptoms persisted and she did seek help she was shocked to learn that she was in fact suffering from lung cancer and by the point of diagnosis her condition was terminal.

The article goes on to highlight the need for screening for lung cancer in Wales as a way to make diagnoses early and give sufferers a fighting chance at survival.  This lady’s consultants suggest that screening would save many people.

When I read the article it made me wonder how many people are putting coughs; chesty symptoms and breathlessness down to Covid and long Covid?  How many people are suffering in silence and not asking to be investigated?  How many people are calling out for help but are being told by medical professionals that a recent Covid diagnosis is responsible for their symptoms and not getting the opportunity to have their symptoms investigated?

Early indications from experts that we work with are that there are potentially tens of thousands of patients that have not yet had a cancer diagnosis.  Usually there are a lot more cancer diagnoses made in a year than has been the case in the past 2 years and our experts wonder whether this is because people aren’t coming forward or symptoms aren’t being investigated.  The reasons for this could be putting symptoms down to something else such as Covid; not wanting to bother GPs when people know they are already very overstretched; seeking help and when they are initially dismissed do not go back until they are investigated.

Only time will tell as to how many missed opportunities there have been to diagnose cancer because Covid symptoms masked what was really going on but in the meantime people must remain vigilant and seek help when symptoms could be something sinister.  It is always better to have things checked.

If you or someone you know fears that a diagnosis could or should have been made earlier please get in touch with us and one of our dedicated medical negligence team would be happy to arrange an appointment with you to discuss your concerns.

 

Lydia Brindley, Legal Director

post

https://resolution.nhs.uk/resources/extravasation/

NHS Resolution, the organisation that manages negligence claims against the NHS, have recently published their findings into claims for extravasation injuries suffered by NHS patients between April 2010 and December 2021. During the period 214 claims have been settled in favour of the Claimant.

The document helpfully also details ways that medical staff can avoid these events in the future including ongoing staff education of both local and manufacturers guidance, which will hopefully reduce these injuries going forward.

What is an extravasation injury? 

Extravasation is defined as ‘the accidental leakage of any liquid from a vein into the surrounding tissues, which can cause serious harm to the patient (NHS England, 2017)’

Causes of extravasation injury

NHS Resolution identified the following as some of the contributing factors to extravasation injuries;

  • Incorrect medication infusion pump pressures
  • Wrong route of administration
  • Failure to act on patient complaints of pain or discomfort
  • Delay in identifying extravasation injury
  • Staff not following manufacturers or local guidance on administration of intravenous drugs

Here at Graystons Solicitors we believe that nobody should attend to receive medical treatment and suffer an injury as a result of such errors.

How we can help.

At Graystons Solicitors we have experience in supporting clients who have suffered extravasation injuries to bring a claim for damages. The damages pursued help our clients to recover compensation for their pain and suffering along with expenses related to time off work and cosmetic treatment to improve the appearance of the injury.

Contact us today for a free no obligation discussion.

 

post

As reported by DevonLive it was found after an unannounced inspection from the Care Quality Commission in December 2021 that patients at Torbay Hospital (Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust) have been put at risk of ‘avoidable harm’.

This is due to the few staff members working, not having the time to express their concerns about the lack of staff within the hospital or little being done to resolve this issue. They found some wards did not have enough staff to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide them with the right care and treatment.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many hospitals remain under pressure with a reduction of staff working extremely hard to keep up with the demands in the hospital. However, when the care falls below a reasonable standard, for example a lack of staff on the ward resulting in them being unable to monitor all patients and their needs, this puts patients at risk of avoidable harm.

It was found that staff were not always completing risk assessments for each patient to remove or minimise risks of people’s safety. Staff were not keeping detailed records of patients care and treatment and they were often not clear or up to date.

The hospital continues to ‘require improvement’ in their latest CQC’s rating. The trust has confirmed they need to find ways to manage risks better and reduce the chance of patients coming to harm.

This is an issue we find patients are experiencing more frequently over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the demanding pressures on NHS staff. Unfortunately, because of this many more patients are suffering and experience poor care which would be avoidable if they had the time to complete the necessary risk assessments.

If you believe that you, or a loved one have suffered harm due to suspected clinical negligence, we may be able to investigate a potential claim for you, please contact us and one of our specialist solicitors will be happy to speak with you. Please call us on 0151 645 0055. Alternatively, you can email us on enquiries@graystons.co.uk and we can arrange to call you.

 

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).”