Clinical Negligence settlement approved

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The High Court in London has today approved a substantial out-of-court settlement with Tom Dyer.

Mr Dyer's claim is that he was so shocked by the circumstances of his wife's death at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on Christmas Day 2008 that he went into shock and tried to drink himself into oblivion. As a result, he sustained permanent brain damage such that he will need supervision and support for the rest of his life, even though he now abstains from alcohol.

The Trust has already admitted that Mrs Dyer died as a result of an avoidable error when her gut was perforated during a routine procedure.

Background

Mr Dyer’s difficulties were triggered by his wife Dorothy’s sudden death after being admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for a minor procedure shortly before Christmas 2008.

She was expected home to join in the family’s festive celebrations but Mrs Dyer rang at 10pm on Christmas Eve to explain that she was having problems in passing urine and was going back to theatre. She told Mr Dyer that she loved him and would see him the next day.

On Christmas Day, Mr Dyer had a telephone call from the hospital to say that his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and that she had been admitted to Intensive Care.

Together with his daughter Joanne, Mr Dyer went to visit his wife but her condition had deteriorated so dramatically that Joanne collapsed when she saw her Mother and Mr Dyer went into shock. Hours later Mr Dyer had to agree to switch off the life support machine and Mrs Dyer died that afternoon.

Mr Dyer had difficulty coping with the sudden death of his wife and remained in shock, unable to attend the inquest or participate in the funeral arrangements. Instead, he turned to drink and was found collapsed at various locations, including his wife’s grave. Joanne had to move back into the family home so that she could care for him.

In the summer of 2009, he was admitted to hospital where he underwent detoxification. Unfortunately, by that time he had suffered permanent brain damage because of his drinking and he will now need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

The Oxford University Hospitals Trust has already admitted a breach of duty of care which resulted in Mrs Dyer's death. A compromise agreement has now been reached regarding compensation for Mr Dyer, as a secondary victim.

Mr Dyer will receive a lump sum which will be paid into the Court of Protection and used to help with his care to ease the burden which his daughter has taken on.

The money will be used to purchase the services of a buddy to support Mr Dyer in order to try to improve his quality of life and to allow his family some respite from the constant care that he needs.

Sue Jarvis, of BL Claims Solicitors Clinical Negligence team, said: “This was a difficult case, with the Trust disputing that Mr Dyer was entitled to compensation until we managed to secure agreement at a round table meeting.

No amount of money could compensate for the fact that Mrs Dyer died on Christmas Day as a result of a preventable medical accident. However, this award means they will have help in caring for him and give them an improved quality of life.”

A statement from Joanne Dyer

“While it is a relief to have reached a conclusion to this legal process after more than four years, nothing can dilute our sense of loss over the needless death of my mother.

The traumatic events have taken a huge toll on our family and we hope this settlement allows us to start looking to the future again.

We were told that my father was not entitled to compensation, so we are grateful to the legal team at BL Claims Solicitors for securing a settlement that recognises his pain and suffering.”

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