Substantial settlement secured following complications with post-operative medication
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Kym Provan, Senior Associate and Head of the South Coast Clinical Negligence team, has recently negotiated settlement in the sum of £75,000, on behalf of a client who suffered from a significant blood clot and associated complications after her treating hospital failed to provide her with the correct post operative medication.
The client in question had suffered from a number of DVTs previously and was known to be at high risk of developing further clots. She was admitted to a hospital in the South of England for removal of her kidney, after investigations had revealed a tumour on the kidney. The surgery went well, but medical staff failed to include the necessary anticoagulant medication in her pack of discharge medications.
At home, our client became increasingly unwell and was readmitted to hospital a week later. She was found to have sustained a life threatening but non-negligent complication of a bleed from an artery, which was thankfully treated in time. Rather ironically, the failure to provide her with the anti-clotting medication when she was first discharged had fortuitously improved her chances of survival on this occasion.
Whilst an inpatient, she was recommenced on the correct medication although a number of doses appear to have been missed. However upon her discharge, medical staff once again failed to ensure that the anticoagulants were included with her discharge medications. The day following her discharge, our client developed severe pain in her left calf and was discovered to have a large DVT in one of the major veins in the leg, behind her knee. She had to be readmitted to hospital for a further week and urgently treated with anticoagulant medication. Follow up oncology appointments happily revealed no spread of the cancer.
Unfortunately, our client suffered significant and ongoing problems as a consequence of this large DVT. She was diagnosed by an independent expert as suffering from the clinical symptoms of post thrombotic syndrome, a permanent condition which can lead to further complications including pain, swelling and eventually ulceration. Independent expert opinion was that these additional problems were caused by this most recent large DVT, not by her previous history of DVTs in more superficial blood vessels.
Prior to her kidney surgery, our client had enjoyed regular walks of several miles. Following the DVT however, she is now only able to walk very short distances before having to stop because of pain and in reality, has become reliant upon a wheelchair if she travels any distance outside of the home. She will have to wear a compression stocking for the remainder of her life to try to limit the progression of her condition and is on life-long anticoagulant medication. She now requires a great deal of help and assistance with household tasks from her family and is limited in the activities that she can enjoy. Of particular distress to her is that she is no longer able to go on long haul flights, which prevents her being able to visit her family in Australia, and there is of course the concern that the post thrombotic syndrome may cause further problems in the future.
Having investigated the circumstances of the client's injury and obtained independent medical evidence, Kym sent a formal Letter of Claim to the hospital Trust setting out the allegations of negligence that the client was seeking to make. The Hospital carried out their own investigation and then made an admission of negligence causing the DVT, but no admission as to the extent of the longer term injury sustained as a result. Due to the passage of time and inability to resolve this issue, it was necessary to issue formal Court proceedings. Further work was carried out to try to quantify the value of the claim and the level of care, assistance, equipment and other costs that the client was likely to require in the future as a result of her injury. Initial offers were made and rejected by both the Trust (£30,000) and herself (£95,000). Shortly before the first Court hearing to set out a timetable to progress the case through to trial, the Trust put forward an improved settlement offer of £75,000. This was considered to be a reasonable assessment of the value of the claim, and our client therefore happily accepted the offer.
She is delighted at the result and the fact that she and her family will not have to face the ordeal of a full court trial. She is now looking forward to flying her Australian family over later in the summer for a longed for visit, will be able to pay for home help and to purchase equipment which will assist her both in and outside the home, enabling her to enjoy a better quality of life and more of the activities that she used to enjoy.
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