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  • Overview

    This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who recently recovered £750,000 for a patient who suffered permanent and very severe loss of respiratory function causing severe disability, oxygen dependency and reduced life expectancy as a result of a negligently performed pleural aspiration.

    The case of E v Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust [2009] involved a negligent failure to stop a patient's anticoagulants prior to minor invasive surgical procedures.

    Mr E was aged 54 when he was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia and a pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid between the lung and chest wall). It was planned that he would be taken off anti-coagulants (blood thinning agents) prior to the pleural effusion being drained. He subsequently underwent a pleural aspiration and the following day the insertion of a chest drain. Although the hospital stopped his warfarin it negligently failed to stop his clexane (another anticoagulant). As a result these procedures caused a substantial bleed which led to a series of problems including haemothorax (blood on the lung), empyema (collection of pus in pleural space), MRSA and moderate myocardial infarction. Such was the severity of these complications that he remained in hospital for many months and suffered permanent and very severe loss of respiratory function causing severe disability, oxygen dependency and reduced life expectancy.

    Mr E was not informed that an error had been made.

    After obtaining reports from a respiratory physician and cardiologist we sent a letter of claim to the hospital which subsequently admitted liability. However the defendant strenuously argued that the claimant's pre-existing bad health meant that he would have "been significantly disabled" with a very poor life expectancy in any event. Whilst it was true that the claimant did have significant pre-existing health problems we produced evidence proving that the defendant had dramatically overstated the significance of these and our experts disagreed with the defendant's assessment of his life expectancy.

    After obtaining further expert evidence in relation to the claimant's injuries and financial losses the case settled for £750,000 which included damages in respect of the claimant's injuries, past and future loss of earnings, past and future care needs including his inability to look after his disabled wife and accommodation needs.

    The case illustrates how a medical oversight (stopping only one of two anticoagulants) can lead to devastating injuries. As liability was admitted we were able to obtain an interim payment to relieve the family's financial hardship caused by the claimant's loss of employment.

    Graham Bell specialises in respiratory medicine cases. If you would like to ask Graham a question about a potential case involving respiratory medicine or you have a general query about medical negligence contact Graham Bell on 01892 701358 in confidence.  

    We have one of the largest and most experienced specialist medical negligence teams in Southern England including London. Our team of highly experienced lawyers has the depth and range of expertise essential in this sensitive and often complex area of law. Our clinical negligence team is very proud to be ranked Number 1 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners UK.

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