The Surgeon with the God complex

In a high profile news story this week, a surgeon who allegedly carried out completely unnecessary operations has been convicted of intentionally wounding patients. Ian Paterson, 59, from Altrincham in Greater Manchester has been granted bail and is due to be sentenced late this month. During the 7-week hearing some of the surgeon’s victims gave statements about how Paterson misled them into thinking that they had serious medical issues and carried out operations for conditions that in many cases the patients were not even suffering from. One female victim who underwent surgery by Paterson six times in seven years said that he “…tried every trick in the book to avoid accountability for his disgusting crimes. Mr Paterson charmed and manipulated his patients into trusting him. I for one trusted him with my life.” The victim had been told by Paterson that she had breast cancer and went through extensive surgery to remove the cancer, then a full mastectomy to remove the breast. It was later found that she had not been suffering from breast cancer at all and that he had made up the results so as to continue performing dangerous and unnecessary surgery. As well as working privately at the Little Aston and Parkway Hospitals in the West Midlands, Paterson carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on NHS patients, costing one NHS Trust around £17.8 million in damages and legal costs. Sometimes even good doctors make mistakes, sometimes crucial pieces of machinery can fail, and sometimes a simple error of judgement on the part of someone treating you can cause significant pain and damage. Fortunately it is very...

7 Year fight for medical negligence compensation finally over for widower

The widower of a woman who died from a blood clot just 16 days after the birth of her daughter has won a medical negligence case and undisclosed compensation from the Leicester Hospital where she died. Darren Taylor of Braunstone, near Leicester had to fight for seven years before the hospital admitted that mistakes had been made in his wife’s treatment. She died from a pulmonary embolism that was caused by a deep vein thrombosis (also known as DVT) in one of her legs that was due to pregnancy. When Mrs Taylor was found collapsed in the bathroom of their family home in March 2010, she was rushed to Leicester Royal Infirmary, but the doctor who saw her did not follow the hospital’s guideline on investigating suspected DVT on the basis that at that time, ultra-sound scans were not carried out at weekends. It is believed that if a scan had taken place, the DVT would have been noticed and appropriate action could have been taken to avoid the development of the pulmonary embolism, and hence save her life. In addition to the pain caused by the death of his wife, the situation was made even more insufferable by the NHS Trust’s insistence of its innocence of any negligence regarding the death. Speaking after the case, Mr Taylor said: “I am relieved that this is all over. It has been a long, hard seven years, but I am happy we have got the NHS to own up and the Trust says that lessons have been learnt.” If you or someone you care for has suffered as a result of...

77-Year-old woman dies after choking on doughnut in hospital

A 77-year-old lady from Leicester died after choking on a doughnut that she was given while staying in hospital. The lady had been admitted to the Evington Centre’s Mental Health ward at Leicester General Hospital, run by the Leicestershire Partnership Trust, in June last year. She had undergone a behaviour assessment – which included looking into her eating habits – and was placed on a “soft food” diet to avoid any potentially dangerous incidents. However, contrary to this she was given foods such as toast and pizza by staff who were supposedly caring for her. When she began to eat a doughnut on the 25th July while left on her own, she began to choke. By the time the emergency team arrived the lady had suffered a massive heart attack from which she suffered significant brain damage, and she died less than one week later. A spokesman for the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust said: “We are sorry this tragic incident occurred while the lady was in our care and accept there is more we could have done to prevent this incident from occurring”. He added: “We carried out our own investigation into the incident, which we have shared with the deceased’s family and the coroner. We developed a detailed action plan following our investigation, which includes a number of different steps to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident in the future.” If you or someone you care for has suffered while under the care of a hospital or any medical facility, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. While we all understand that it...

£675,000 pay-out for brain injury misdiagnosis

A man who was repeatedly sent home by doctors while suffering from a brain injury has been awarded a massive £675,000 in compensation. Alex Rea from Shefford was sent home on eight separate occasions after visiting his doctor’s surgery complaining of headaches and sickness. In addition he was discharged twice from the Accident and Emergency department of Lister Hospital in Stevenage with doctors claiming that his symptoms were nothing more than concussion and a possible ear infection. It was only when he visited an out-of-hours surgery that the injury was picked up and he was immediately sent to Bedford Hospital for a CT scan. There they discovered that he was suffering from bleeding on the brain and on the following day he attended Addenbrookes Hospital where a hole was drilled into his skull and a blood-clot was removed. Mr Rea is now registered as partially sighted and has struggled to find employment since the injury, leading to periods of homelessness. He made a claim for compensation from the GPs involved along with the East and North Herts NHS Trust and won. Negligence was admitted on the part of the GP practice, as well as Lister Hospital. Have you suffered from misdiagnosis? As human beings we are prone to make occasional mistakes; none of us are perfect and sometimes even doctors can miss an opportunity to make a clear diagnosis. However this case highlights what can go wrong when doctors and medical professionals simply fail to notice what is apparent in front of them. If you or someone you care for has been put at risk by a failure to...

Hospital Trust fined £500,000 after 4 patient deaths

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £35,000 after the deaths of 4 patients were found to be a result of careless and unnecessary failings. The Health and Safety Executive investigated the deaths of 4 patients at the Cannock and Stafford Hospitals that the Trust managed. Three of the patients’ deaths were attributed to falls from which they did not recover, while the fourth patient died from anaphylactic shock after having been administered with penicillin, even though she had previously made it clear to the hospital on several occasions that she was allergic to the substance. When the HSE investigated the incidents they found that they were mainly due to systematic failure within management systems. Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to all four of the deaths. Speaking after the hearing HSE Principal Inspector Wayne Owen said: “The deaths of Jean, Ivy, Joy and Patrick were preventable. Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust failed them and their loved ones. The Trust failed to follow a number of its own policies in relation to handing over information, completing records, carrying out falls risk assessments and the monitoring of care plans. These systems were not robust enough to ensure they were followed consistently and correctly. It is in the public interest that any hospital Trust is held accountable for serious breaches of the law resulting in death or life-changing harm. We expect lessons to be learned across the NHS to prevent tragedies like the losses of these...

Care home provider and support worker fined after severe scalding incident

A national care home provider along with one of its employees have been prosecuted after a young woman who resided in one of their homes was left with full thickness burns to 40% of her body after she was immersed into a scalding bath. Nicola Jones, a resident of the care home in Gideon Street, Bathgate, had to have all of her toes amputated and was left with no flesh on her ankles after the incident. She now has to use a wheelchair and faces further significant corrective surgery. Livingston Sheriff Court heard how a care-worker with 11 years experience had failed to check the temperature of the water before Nicola got into the bath. While the very high temperature of the water was due to a failure of the water heater’s thermostat, the responsibility to manually check the temperature fell to Sharon Dunlop. Colleagues who came to assist claimed that they could feel the heat coming from the bathroom and thus suggested that it was clear to Mrs Dunlop that the water temperature was dangerously high. The court heard how employees were supposed to check the water temperature and fill out a record, but these instructions were not confirmed by Real Life Options, the care home provider. When they investigated the incident, the Health and Safety Executive found that there was no suitable risk assessment in place to manage the risks of exposure to scalding water. In addition the thermometers provided in the home were inadequate. Speaking after the hearing, HSE Investigator Hazel Dobb said: “The injuries sustained by Nicola Jones were easily preventable by the simple act...