Our team at Hudgell Solicitors sees the devastating and life-changing impact medical negligence has on patients and their families. Our team of medical negligence claims solicitors supported families in these five cases which each highlight why patients should never fear asking questions of doctors, their diagnosis and treatment plans, if they have concerns.
Misdiagnosis – Grandmother would have lived ‘another 10 years at least’
Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of conditions can have life-changing consequences for patients. At Hudgell Solicitors, we’ve seen many serious causes, including failures to diagnose issues such as cancer and meningitis. Both medically misdiagnosed cases (where an incorrect diagnosis is made) and undiagnosed cases, (where a condition goes completely undetected over a period of time) can both prove life-threatening. Experts said Mary Badham, 65, would have lived for at least another 10 years had her bowel cancer being identified at the earliest opportunity. When referred to a specialist by her own GP after displaying ‘red flag’ symptoms of bowel cancer, the specialist dismissed it as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) without carrying out a colonoscopy. Two years later, Mrs Badham discovered she had cancer and that it was terminal. She died less than three years later, aged 72, having being denied 10 years of life.
Medication errors – Patient lost almost all vision due to side effects of his medication
We all head to see our doctor hoping to be sent home with medication which will help us make the fastest possible recovery to good health, but our teams have seen many instances of wrong prescriptions and medication being issued, often with serious consequences for the patient. This can include incorrect medication or dosages being given, medication being prescribed for too long or to someone who is allergic, or as simple as a patients receiving medication whilst in hospital intended for someone else. In one recently settled case, a 77-year-old patient lost almost all of his sight after doctors failed to take him off medication known to cause loss of vision as a side effect. Sight loss had been a known side effect of the medication being used to treat a lung infection, but when the patient complained of blurred vision, doctors failed to take him off the medication, leading to almost complete loss of sight.
Surgery without consent – Failed spinal procedure carried out on patient without consent causing injury
You may think it unlikely that surgeons would carry out an operation or procedure without a patient’s full consent – but think again. NHS Trusts in England paid out more than £1.4bn in claims during 2015-16 for such errors, leading to new guidelines recently being announced under which doctors will have to explain all the options to their patients, including the ones they themselves would not recommend, and let them choose for themselves before surgery. The Royal College of Surgeons has expressed concern that many NHS trusts are not allowing enough time for the consent process to be carried out properly during consultations. Father-of-two David Stewart had a lumbar puncture procedure, which tests for conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system, carried out on him when the hospital had failed to ask his permission, or that of any of his family members. The hospital Trust later admitted that the procedure had been carried out to a poor standard, and he went on to suffer prolonged leg and back pain, which had a massive impact on his quality of life.
Errors following scans – Patient died after hospital failed to check results of urgent MRI scan
Misinterpretation of X-rays and scans happens far too often, leading to late diagnosis or the complication being missed completely. This can be very serious, and in the case of Colin Mayes from Swansea, proved fatal. The Trust running Morriston Hospital admitted being liable for the death of the 42-year-old patient after medical staff failed to check the results of an urgent MRI scan for three days – completely missing a brain abscess from which he died. Staff on weekend duty allowed his condition to rapidly deteriorate following his admission, as they were completely unaware he needed urgent treatment. They only checked the results of the MRI scan and realised their error the day after he died. Mr Mayes, who had no previous history of serious illness and was the sole carer for his wife Christine. He had been sent to hospital by his GP with a suspected stroke after suffering headaches and weakness for a number of days.
GP Negligence – Doctors repeatedly sent home patient who had bleed on the brain
A recent survey commissioned for Hudgell Solicitors revealed that a quarter of people (25%) said they felt their doctors simply didn’t give them enough time at their appointments, with one in 10 saying they feel a visit to a GP now rarely solves their health problem. That was sadly the case for patient Alex Rea, who was sent home on eight separate occasions from his local GP surgery before he was finally sent for a CT scan which revealed a bleed on his brain. Mr Rea had been suffering from continuing headaches and sickness, but was not only sent home from his doctors, but also twice by his local hospital A&E. The bleed caused him to suffer brain damage, leaving him partially sighted.