Derby medical negligence claim solicitorsDerby medical negligence claim solicitors

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Case Study

Instructions received in connection with a claim for clinical negligence under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Law Reform (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1934. The Claimant’s husband had attended the Defendant’s hospital on 12 July 2004 with an exacerbation of his asthma and asked for a repeat prescription of his brown inhaler. He was seen by a nurse, who failed to carry out a peak expiry flow rate measurement, contrary to the hospital protocol and who did not put him on a nebuliser. He had been advised by the nurse he saw that he needed to be referred to his General Practitioner and that she was not able to make a diagnosis and treat his presentation. This was at approximately 17.30 hours. He had been asked to wait as a doctor was expected to attend in an hour, but, as he only lived a short distance from the Defendant’s hospital, he was allowed to go home. However, once home he suffered an acute asthma attack and although an ambulance was called which took him to Good Hope Hospital, despite their best efforts, he was pronounced dead at 20.42 hours. Upon the receipt of instructions, the deceased’s medical records were obtained and considered. A consultant respiratory physician, who was instructed to prepare a report on breach of duty and causation, considered that the failure to record the deceased’s peak flow was a direct breach of the hospital’s protocol and that the deceased’s overall care and assessment fell below a standard which could reasonably be expected. He further considered that on the balance of probabilities, appropriate treatment would have prevented the further deterioration which caused respiratory arrest just over half an hour after he left the Defendant’s hospital, an event from which he could not be resuscitated. A care report was requested in respect of the loss of the deceased’s services. A telephone conference with counsel and the consultant respiratory physician was attended. Following the receipt of the care report, a letter of claim was sent to the Defendant. The Defendant was informed that there were two major errors by the nurse, the first being that the deceased’s peak flow rate was not recorded and the second being that the nurse failed to recognise the implication of an oxygen saturation of 92%, a severe disturbance in an asthmatic subject, suggesting a major disturbance of ventilation, usually due to patchy mucous plugging. Information in respect of the calculation of the financial dependency claim was requested by the Defendant’s solicitors. The Defendant’s solicitors confirmed that the Defendant had failed to take a peak flow measurement when the deceased attended casualty and that had a peak flow measurement been taken, appropriate treatment would have been provided to him, and on the balance of probabilities, his death would have been avoided. The Defendant admitted breach of duty and causation, save that the extent of the past and future dependency claim remained in issue. A copy of the consultant respiratory physician’s report was sent to the Defendant’s solicitors. The consultant respiratory physician, who was instructed to provide a report as to the Claimant’s life expectancy, confirmed that the Claimant’s life expectancy was 80 years of age and that the deceased’s life expectancy should be shortened from the previously estimated 27 years to 25 years as a consequence of his likely continued exposure to passive smoking. An interim payment of £3,000.00 was received from the Defendant. Responses to the Defendant’s questions relating to the deceased were provided by the consultant respiratory physician. A without prejudice offer in the sum of £100,000.00 was made by the Defendant. A claim form was issued. A telephone conference with counsel and the care expert was attended. The Defendant’s without prejudice offer was repeated and the Claimant’s preliminary schedule of loss and damages was served. The Defendant was informed that the schedule was preliminary, owing to the investigation of a possible loss of pension claim. An increased without prejudice offer in the sum of £130,000.00 was made by the Defendant.