Personal injury hurt arm

Damages of £135,000 recovered for the widow and estate of a patient who died following negligent management

Oliver Chapman, specialist clinical negligence lawyer acting for the claimant, who was the executrix of her father’s estate, successfully obtained an settlement of £135,000 to compensate the estate for the deceased’s pain and suffering and the deceased’s widow’s loss of financial dependency upon her husband.

The deceased was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.  His case was discussed at a multi-disciplinary team meeting and it was suspected that he had a second mass attached to the small bowel

mesentery.  He was transferred to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust to see a consultant surgeon.

He was seen by the surgeon in clinic.  Further investigations were arranged and he was referred to an oncologist for chemotherapy.

A PET CT scan confirmed the presence of the primary distal oesophageal tumour.  A 2cm diameter speculate mass related to the small bowel was also noted.

A staging laparoscopy was undertaken, during which 30cm of the terminal ileum was resected in an attempt to remove the second mass in the small bowel.  The deceased developed complications following this operation and complained of abdominal pain and distension.

Chemotherapy was commenced.

Later that year he was reviewed by the consultant surgeon who planned to undertake surgery.  The deceased was then admitted to Maidstone Hospital for surgery to resect his oesophageal cancer. Following the procedure the deceased was transferred to ITU where he made a largely uneventful recovery.

Five days after surgery, he suffered two episodes of bloody faeces and a gastrografin swallow was undertaken which showed no anastomotic leak.

Three days later, he was seen on the ward by the critical care outreach team.  His respiratory rate was significantly raised and his oxygen saturation was very low.  It was considered that he was suffering dehydration due to diarrhoea.

Over the next two days his condition deteriorated significantly.  He then suffered a cardiac arrest.  Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead two hours later.

We were initially approached several years after these events by Miss V, the daughter and executrix of the deceased, who had noted our involvement in oesophageal cancer cases against Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in a local newspaper.

We offered to act for Miss V on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis and obtained expert reports from a general surgeon on issues of breach of duty and an oncologist on causation and life expectancy.

The defendant made no admissions in respect of the assertion that the deceased was not adequately consented for surgery.  However, it was admitted that as a consequence of inadequate post-operative care, in particular, a failure to place an NG tube, the deceased’s death would likely have been avoided.

The defendant made an offer of £30,000.

The offer was rejected.  Some time later the defendant made a further offer of £50,000 and disclosed its own life expectancy evidence.  The claimant’s evidence was that but for the negligence, the deceased’s chances of survival for five years was 55%.  The defendant continued to argue that the deceased was unlikely to have lived to five years post-surgery.

Eventually the parties negotiated a settlement of £135,000 to compensate the deceased’s widow for her loss of dependency on her husband and reasonable funeral expenses.

Oliver Chapman specialises in clinical negligence cases.  If you would like to ask Oliver Chapman a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any personal injury, contact Oliver at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701234 in confidence.

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