NHS medical negligence claim for failure to communicate

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Miscommunication within a clinical setting can be disastrous. This brief case study of an NHS medical negligence claim (prepared by Oliver Thorne, a lawyer specialising in NHS medical negligence claims) illustrates what can happen when medical personnel fail to communicate between themselves effectively.

In this instance, miscommunication resulted in our client suffering acute pancreatitis leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Our client appointed us to pursue an NHS medical negligence claim which we agreed to fund by way of a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement.

Our client had from chronic pulmonary problems and aspergillosis as a result of asthma suffered in his youth. To relieve his symptoms he had been prescribed steroids over a long period of time. As a consequence of long-term steroid use, he developed osteoporosis. His doctor therefore needed to ensure that in future steroids would only be used at a level that would not exacerbate his osteoporosis and not interfere with his other prescription needs for a pre-existing lung infection.

In 2013, our client was prescribed voriconazole, a new antifungal drug which was used to treat his lung infection. The drug improved his symptoms and allowed him to be more active, reducing his breathlessness. The client was informed that the drug could cause liver damage and he therefore received regular check-ups to determine normal liver function.

The following year, our client suffered terrific abdominal pain. He was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. It was established that this was caused by the Voriconazole. The  drug was therefore stopped in hospital. However this decision was not conveyed to our client.

The decision to stop the voriconazole was also not adequately documented on our client discharge notes.  His GP was consequently unaware of the decision to stop the drug.

Upon discharge, our client was told to resume his usual medication. He therefore continued to take the Voriconazole.

6 weeks later, our client was again admitted to hospital due to chronic abdominal pain. He was again diagnosed with acute pancreatitis as a result of the Voriconazole. He was transferred to the intensive care unit and the Voriconazole was stopped.

As a result of the second bout of pancreatitis, our client developed Type 2 diabetes.

Fortunately, our client’s pancreas resumed to normal functionality enabling diabetes medication to be stopped. However, he is now unable to take any form of antifungal medication due to the risk of further pancreatitis.

After a lengthy legal battle the NHS finally acknowledged that their errors in communication had led to our client suffering unnecessarily.  Their legal representatives entered into negotiations and a 5-figure sum was agreed in an out of court settlement.

If you feel that you have suffered injury due to miscommunication between medical professionals and wish to make an NHS medical negligence claim then contact our team for a free case assessment. Call freephone 0808 139 1592 or send an email with brief details to info@sbclaims.co.uk