Case settled 1 day before Trial for an 81 year old lady
We have secured an award of £60,000, in total, for an 81-year-old client. Negligent nursing care resulted in her suffering a fracture to her spine. The case settled 1 day before Trial.
On 14 January 2011, our client was admitted to Bassetlaw Hospital after being seen in A & E with severe abdominal pain. She was advised that she had a urinary tract infection as well as constipation. She would require treatment by way of enemas so that she could then undergo a colonoscopy.
She had multiple enemas, the last during the evening of 15 January 2011. We alleged that around 9 pm a nurse, who was about to go off shift, administered an enema. She then helped our client onto a commode, but then did not return to help her back to bed. She left our client on the commode without checking that the nurse alarm was within reach.
Our client was on the commode on a dimly lit 8-bedded ward, occupied by other patients, some of whom were sleeping. After about an hour, she thought that the nurse had forgotten about her. The nurse alarm was too far away for her to reach and she did not want to shout as other patients were asleep around her. So, she got herself up off the commode. She leant on a wheeled trolley, thinking it was a secure handhold, and it moved away from her causing her to fall heavily.
After her fall, given her severe pain, a spinal X-ray was performed which revealed an L1 fracture. However, our client was told that she did not have a new injury. She was advised that she must have suffered some childhood trauma. The X-ray findings were misdiagnosed as an old fracture.
After discharge from the hospital, our client continued to suffer from severe pain and urinary incontinence. She did not improve over the course of the following days and her husband attempted to arrange a GP home visit. When he found out this would not be possible he dialled 999 for an ambulance. Not surprisingly, our client refused to return to Bassetlaw Hospital and so she was taken to Lincoln County A&E.
At Lincoln County Hospital a further x-ray was performed and it was confirmed that the L1 was a fresh fracture and had been sustained when she fell from the commode. Our client was scheduled for surgery (a Kyphoplasty procedure). However she not up to the surgery as she developed a chest infection and her heart rhythm started to fluctuate. It was decided that the fracture would be treated conservatively and she was issued with a spinal brace.
The nurse who had left our client on a commode was identified after service of witness statements were exchanged. Medical Solicitors asked questions about her as she had not provided a witness statement. She was not to be called to give evidence at Trial by the Defendant Hospital Trust.
Despite this, liability was not admitted. In fact, the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) made it clear, through their solicitors, that they intended to defend the claim. However, 3 working days before Trial a first offer was made by the NHSLA to settle the case. It’s a shame the NHSLA saw fit to protract litigation in this manner involving a particularly vulnerable and elderly lady. This was despite Medical Solicitors making various invitations for the Defendant to enter into mediation/settlement negotiations. It’s also a shame that the NHS are now faced with a Claimant solicitor’s bill of costs, increased by the conduct of the defence position.
Adam Korn, Counsel of 7 Bedford Row, was instructed to represent the Claimant at Trial, but ultimately, the case settled 1 working day before Trial for a total settlement value £60,000, being £45,000 compensation plus £15,000 repayable to the benefits agency (via the CRU).
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