Clinical Negligence Success Stories

Failure to carry out surgery risked client's life

Mrs H, a retired lady was rushed to hospital with a perforated bowel which had in turn caused peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdomen. Peritonitis is a life threatening condition that requires urgent surgery to repair the damage to the bowel and wash out of the abdomen.  Unfortunately, despite presenting at Accident and Emergency with symptoms strongly indicating that Mrs H was suffering with peritonitis, the diagnosis was missed, and Mrs H's condition deteriorated in hospital over the next couple of days.  Her consultant eventually identified the need for urgent surgery but despite concerns raised to him by junior doctors, intended to perform surgery that was inappropriate for Mrs H and her condition.  The surgery has subsequently been described by the surgeon's colleague as "a disaster waiting to happen".

Inevitably, Mrs H's condition deteriorated further, increasing the risk to her life.  The hospital reacted to the concerns raised regarding the surgeon's competency.  The surgeon in question was then dismissed and he was referred to the General Medical Council to carry out a review of his fitness to practice.

A new consultant was appointed to look after Mrs H and she attempted to remedy the damage that the previous surgeon had caused.  Unfortunately, the damage was largely irreparable due to the delay in making the correct diagnosis followed by inappropriate and sub-standard surgery.  Mrs H has suffered with extreme pain and suffering, distress, hair loss, multiple operations and delayed partial recovery.  Unfortunately, she also suffered with a heart attack caused by the prolonged sepsis and has been left with a permanent stoma which is distressing, embarrassing and restricts her daily activities and hobbies. 

Despite procedural difficulties caused by the case's proximity to the date of limitation, Ceri-Ann Taylor was able to achieve a settlement in the sum of £90,000 for Mrs H, who feels reassured that the surgeon was dismissed and has since been struck off the register for not being fit to practice. Mrs H is satisfied that he is therefore prevented from repeating his mistakes and putting more lives at risk.

If you or anyone you know has concerns regarding this or a similar issue and would like some specialist legal advice please call us on 0800 694 0441, email at: or click here to complete an online enquiry form. We have offices in Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro.


Delayed heart surgery man awarded £120,000

Nigel, a 54 year old man visited his GP with chest pains and breathlessness, but despite his having several risk factors for a heart condition, the GP misdiagnosed them as merely acid reflux. Unfortunately Nigel suffered a major heart attack some days later, and his heart condition was serious enough to need major surgery, which was delayed by the GP's error.

Liability was denied on the basis that the late diagnosis had made no difference to the overall outcome regarding Nigel's health.

His life expectancy has been reduced and he suffers from shortness of breath, general weakness and depression. He is unable to work save in a very sheltered environment. He is still demotivated and undergoing treatment for depression.

The expert evidence was evenly balanced and there was a significant risk that the claim might fail were it to get to court.

Stephen Trahair represented Nigel and secured a negotiated settlement of £120,000 which reflected this risk. This will help Nigel to pay for the aids which he needs at home, and with his lost earnings.

If you or anyone you know have been affected by similar circumstances and would like some specialist legal advice please contact us on 0800 694 044, email us at: or click here to contact us by other means.

Consultant's failure in duty of care results in loss of baby

A mother of three was in her ninth pregnancy but had sadly only managed to deliver three live children. Due to her previous medical history and the fact that she had suspected connective tissue disorder/lupus, she was classed as a high risk pregnancy and was to be extremely closely monitored.

Through this pregnancy she received a high standard of care, receiving regular scans and appointments with her specialist midwife.

At 35 weeks gestation, she had a growth scan which showed her baby's growth was slowing down. She was told, for the following two weeks, she needed to attend the hospital twice a week for fetal monitoring, to check her baby's heart beat.

During the second week of these checks she was referred, following a scan, to a consultant as there were concerns over the loss of fluid around the baby. The locum consultant failed to carry out any of the routine checks but reassured her that her baby would be fine and asked her to return in two days to be induced.

The worried mum returned to the hospital as directed. It was then that she was given the heart breaking news that her baby did not have a heartbeat and had died in utero.

Both parents were, understandably, devastated and suffered depression. The mother was so distraught that she had a sterilisation as she could not bare the thought of experiencing another pregnancy. However, this procedure had such a negative impact on her mental health, she paid privately to have it reversed.

Adele Cotterell, a member of the specialist birth injury team of the clinical negligence department at Foot Anstey represented the mother and achieved a settlement of £78,500.

The money awarded will enable the family to move on with their lives and seek the psychiatric help and support they require in order to put their sadness behind them.

After the case had finished, both claimants remarked that Adele Cotterell had made a difficult process decidedly more bearable for them, due to her sensitive handling of their case and her 'constant support and understanding'.

If you or anyone you know have been affected by similar circumstances and would like some specialist legal advice please contact us on 0800 694 044, email us at: or click here to contact us by other means.

Failure to monitor mother adequately resulted in stillbirth

The birth of two very big babies and other issues should have led to Jeanette's third pregnancy being categorised as high risk and consultant led, this unfortunately was not the case and resulted in the stillbirth of her third child.

Jeanette's first two children were big babies, her son weighed 10lb 4oz upon delivery and her daughter weighed 9Ib 7oz. Both children also had shoulder dystocia during delivery.

The midwife failed to take Jeanette's obstetric history into account. Due to the weight of her children, she should have received a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). However, as the midwife failed to take her history into account this test was not offered.

When she went into natural labour with her third child she had started experiencing reduced fetal movements and attended hospital. Upon admission she was examined but the midwife was unable to locate her son's heart beat. An ultrasound scan was performed and it was, sadly, confirmed that her son had died.

Had Jeanette been referred to a consultant, a plan would have been made to deliver her son at 38 weeks. Similarly, had a GTT been carried out, this would have indicated further monitoring. On the balance of probabilities, had Jeanette's son been delivered at 38 weeks, he would have survived.

The family were devastated, Jeanette was diagnosed as suffering with severe PTSD as a direct consequence of her son's stillbirth.

Adele Cotterell acted for Jeanette and secured her over £67,000 in compensation. Jeanette has given the money to her children to improve their quality of live, ensure they go on holiday etc – this is being thought of as a gift from their brother.

After the case had finished, Jeanette thanked Adele for all the support she provided and said the successful outcome has meant she is able to move on with her life.

If you or anyone you know have been affected by similar circumstances and would like some specialist legal advice please contact us on 0800 694 044, email us at: or click here to contact us by other means.

Deafness following delayed meningitis diagnosis results in £55,000 compensation

Following a previous bout of cough and fever 16 month old Ché began to vomit, he developed a rash on his hands, feet and chest and his fever returned. His parents were so concerned that they called the out of hours doctor in the early hours of the morning, he suspected chicken pox and said to take him to their GP if they remained concerned.

The rash spread and Ché's condition deteriorated, he had difficulty moving his head. His parents took him to see the GP where he was diagnosed with a viral infection.

The following morning, Ché started vomiting again. They could not get to see the GP until midday so phoned the hospital who advised them to get into the GP straight away, where he was diagnosed with a further viral infection.

Ché's parents continued to be worried and returned to the GP Surgery later that day where they saw a different Doctor who arranged for Ché to be admitted to hospital. On arrival at the hospital his inertia, vomiting and dehydration were still present but his rash had cleared. On examination he was considered clinically dehydrated and as such was placed on a drip and diagnosed with stomach flu or possible urine infection.

As Ché's condition failed to improve overnight, a lumbar puncture was performed whereupon meningitis was diagnosed, he was eventually placed on antibiotics and remained in hospital for over a week.

Once home Ché began to show some strange characteristics - such as head banging, smacking his face and biting himself. Changes to his diet were made which helped with the behavioural problems. He underwent further investigations which revealed a severe hearing loss in the right ear.

As Ché got older he started to have problems at school as he could not hear properly and tended to shout so was accused of being "loud".

A few years later, Ché had further examinations, he had profound hearing loss in his right. He also had some mild hearing loss in the left ear. Both were permanent.

Claire Stoneman, a partner in the clinical negligence team helped the family to secure £55,000 in compensation for Ché, based on the fact that had meningitis been diagnosed earlier then his hearing loss may not have been as severe or even occurred at all.

Claire said: "Everyone needs to be aware of the signs of this disease. Failure to diagnose and treat meningitis at the earliest opportunity can have devastating and sometimes fatal consequences.

"Further information on the signs, symptoms and effects of meningitis can be found at an organisation with which we have developed strong links".

The money will help the family to get the right aids and equipment to ensure that Ché, who is now at secondary stage of his education, can lead as normal a life as possible and give him the best opportunities for the future.

Should you have any concerns about the treatment of or delay in diagnosis of meningitis then please feel free to contact our specialist team on 0800 694 0441, email us at or click here to contact us by other means.

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