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creepin60

Is delayed treatment medical negligence

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Can anybody clarify whether any of the following incidents would be seen as medical negligence and can any claims be made if they are?

 

Had an annual check up in a specialist centre, reported to the doctor that some palpitations had occurred. He noted only one occurrence but there was one long one and several shorter occurrences which he was told about. Information was only partially recorded

 

Had a 24 hour monitor but didn't receive results so thought everything was OK. Regular annual check 12 months later and was taken straight into hospital as an emergency but there was no record on the notes of any monitor or any results. The results had been lost and only added to the notes after a second urgent hospital admission for the same thing which was over 12 months after the test had been done.

 

Discharged after the first in patient experience and sent a follow up appointment but was sent to see the wrong consultant who had nothing to do with the problem so a complaint was made through PALS. They were difficult to contact at times. They promised a final response within the timeframe but it was received 2 months later and was just full of apologies and promises that procedures would change.

 

Surgery is necessary but this could have been done over 12 months ago if the notes had been properly written up and no idea whether this delay has caused any more damage.

 

Do patients who have long term problems and who need procedures have any right to any sort of claim for the stress and distress caused by bungling doctors and admin staff?

 

Any information would be appreciated

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C60. The gist, or thrust, of legal actions alleging negligence is 'damages' – which expression covers 'loss' under several headings, including pain and suffering, and foreseeable financial loss\expense.

 

And the best ally of any claimant is evidence. I would suggest getting hold of all your medical (and any other Data-Protection-Act-accessible) records from all the medical bodies concerned, now and on a continuing basis – and keeping a detailed diary and file of correspondence.

 

Patients have, basically, 3 years from suffering loss in which to serve proceedings, and, regrettably, you would most certainly need a lawyer

 

It's a grim, but 'funny old thing', that when the facts are, indisputably, on the table, the precise legal question - the issue of whether someone was, or how many people were, 'negligent' - often retreats into a corner. The facts subsume it: no-one doubts that there was indeed negligence involved.

 

Best of luck to you – (and perhaps I may hope you will become a 'recording patient' forever hereafter).

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maybe one option is get one of those 'free' conditional fee consultations where a sols firm will consider things and decide whether you have a poss case re a no win/no fee (conditional fee) agreement. if they offer to take it on, then you'll know that there is poss claimable negligence? (they usually only take on if they think they can win/settle)


IMO

:-):rant:

 

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Thank you for the replies.

 

I did contact one solicitor just to ask questions but his attitude was one of 'well the procedure is going to be carried out so you are not going to lose out on that score and there hasn't been any damage so you just have to accept mistakes were made and they're putting it right'.

 

Surely that can't be right? We're expected to have a serious problem for a year, it's not investigated due to some quack not completing the notes properly and then expected to just drop everything to suit them, is this correct?

 

There wasn't any pain but there was suffering which is now known to have been arrhythmia and as it was uncontrolled for 12 months apparently it's illegal not to notify the DVLA and illegal to drive if it isn't controlled. All the fault of this specialist centre, how are we to know something is that serious? Consultant said the 'delay' didn't appear to have significantly done any damage. What is significant and what isn't?

 

Going to have another go at finding a solicitor other than that it looks like all that can be done is grin and bear it. It's appalling.

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I think you'll find it difficult to prove negligence. Aside from the administrative errors, which don't seem to me to amount to negligence, the main complaint seems to be the waiting time for surgery. In the NHS, patients are generally waitlisted for surgery according to clinical need, which is determined by the consultant who also takes into account other aspects of the case, such as age, occupation, past medical history and so on. A consultant using his clinical judgment is a far cry from a misdiagnosis or treatment error resulting in lasting harm to a patient.

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Unfortunately we have now found out that arrhythmia was not diagnosed in 2012 and it should have been. On top of that this year, some 18 months after the first incidents occurred, all of a sudden a heart valve was reported as narrowing which again could have been prevented had the first doctor done his job and properly recorded the problems as told to him in 2012.

 

It's unfortunate but it looks like we have to just put up and shut up even though we know there was definite negligence with a doctor not making proper notes and causing the consultant not to investigate as all the facts had certainly not been recorded. Heart patients don't need stress, this lousy place has caused nothing but stress one way or another

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try a specialist med negligence sols firm, see what they say.

check out the law society website re find a solicitor, or even one of the national advertisers. they usually do 'free' yes or no re conditional fee.


IMO

:-):rant:

 

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I'm as yet unsure what harm you feel you have come to.

 

Narrowed heart valve? Has this been confirmed by echocardiography or is this "we've heard a murmur, it could be a narrowed valve". If it is a stenosed valve : how did the delay cause it?. Or are you saying the delay didn't cause it but the delay had caused harm? You'd need to specify what harm ......

 

For clinical negligence there must be a duty of care (fairly clear here), a breach of that duty of care (delay might be so), but harm must result.

 

If there was an unwarranted delay but no harm resulted from it : no case in negligence. You might get an apology, but that is all.

 

So, you'll need to show harm resulted, establishing causation and making sure they don't have a defence, in order to successfully sue for negligence.

This may be what the solicitor meant when they said "'well the procedure is going to be carried out so you are not going to lose out on that score and there hasn't been any damage so you just have to accept mistakes were made and they're putting it right'." ?

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The narrowed heart valve was confirmed by ecg, echo, MRI scan and CAT scan but although it was pretty obvious something was not right, there was no monitoring, apart from one test where the results were 'lost' 20 months ago. There was an urgent admission last year due to arrhythmia but for 12 months no one had even mentioned that and it was pretty obvious on the admission to hospital that this was a big problem. It looks like the problem had been there for a year without any medication, monitoring or anything else for that matter and the constant high heart rate may have contributed to the valve narrowing, we just don't know and it isn't that easy to find out. Have handed the whole sorry saga to the Ombudsman anyway, there was a complaint made in the first place but even though we kept being told mistakes wouldn't happen again they just did right up until a month ago when yet another botch up was made. Put on warfarin after the urgent admission, surgery needed so a pre op assessment booked for 1 day and the op for the next day. Was told the op would have to be postponed as there wasn't enough time allowed to sort out the warfarin dosage ahead of the op. Absolute shambles and the stress factor is now through the roof.

 

Thanks for all the replies, going to ask a specialist solicitor if there's anything we can do and see what happens

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The narrowed heart valve was confirmed by ecg, echo, MRI scan and CAT scan but although it was pretty obvious something was not right, there was no monitoring, apart from one test where the results were 'lost' 20 months ago. There was an urgent admission last year due to arrhythmia but for 12 months no one had even mentioned that and it was pretty obvious on the admission to hospital that this was a big problem. It looks like the problem had been there for a year without any medication, monitoring or anything else for that matter and the constant high heart rate may have contributed to the valve narrowing, we just don't know and it isn't that easy to find out. Have handed the whole sorry saga to the Ombudsman anyway, there was a complaint made in the first place but even though we kept being told mistakes wouldn't happen again they just did right up until a month ago when yet another botch up was made. Put on warfarin after the urgent admission, surgery needed so a pre op assessment booked for 1 day and the op for the next day. Was told the op would have to be postponed as there wasn't enough time allowed to sort out the warfarin dosage ahead of the op. Absolute shambles and the stress factor is now through the roof.

 

Thanks for all the replies, going to ask a specialist solicitor if there's anything we can do and see what happens

 

You are still noting where you feel they have breached their duty of care, fair enough.

You are still not actually noting what harm you feel you have suffered. Without claiming harm, you'll get an apology, nothing more.....

when you speak to the specialist solicitor, ask them about:

a) duty,

b) breach of duty,

c) harm (including causation / intervening acts), and

d) defences they might offer.

 

If the specialist solicitor and yourself can't establish what harm has been caused, and that it was caused by their actions, expect them to say "you'll get an apology, but nothing more"......

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Incidentally, 'arrythmia' covers many different conditions - it just means irregular, though not necessarily harmful, electrical heart activity. Some may not even be noticed, whilst some are life-threatening. So, it's entirely possible to be diagnosed with, or suspected of having, an arrythmia, without it needing any treatment, or with delayed treatment doing no harm.

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Hi Creepin60,I am not sure where you are up to with your complaint to the Ombudsman or finding a Solicitor, it may be that your concerns have been or are being addressed, but I thought I would just post to clarify (hopefully) what you need to show/prove to have a successful clinical negligence claim:1) You need to show that the hospital/doctor has acted below a reasonable standard of care (i.e. that there were failings in your care that would not be supported by a reasonable body of medical professionals)2) That this action (or lack of action as in your case) have caused you to suffer an injury (i.e. over and above what injuries you would have suffered in any event)3) The injury is capable of being valued. The first point is breach of duty, the second is causation and the third is quantum.It is usually the second point that causes most of the difficulties in clinical negligence claims (and seems to be the concern in your case) as the person usually has a medical condition and it can be difficult to prove that this condition has got worse as a result of the hospital's/doctor's failings.I would suggest (as I think has been suggested above) that you visit the 'Find A Solicitor' page on the Law Society's website and find a firm that specialises in clinical negligence.I hope that this information helps and I hope that you are now getting the right treatment for your arrhythmia and heart valve narrowing.

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Thank you Carla 313 for the information. At the moment some of the complaints are being dealt with, or so I have been told, but by far the most concerning was that file notes were not properly recorded. Assurance has been given that there has been no damage caused by the total lack of treatment but there is no way of proving this one way or another. Only 1 test was done in a 12 month period and even that wasn't looked at, somebody lost the results. There is just no way of knowing whether damage was caused and trying to prove anything I think is impossible. At the moment things seem to be back on track, but we'll wait and see. The Ombudsman has been involved and in discussions with the hospital trust so just have to wait and see what happens there.

 

Definitely the doctor in the first place acted below a reasonable standard of care, the hospital have admitted that. I don't think they had any choice after being presented with overwhelming evidence but whether it caused any injury, no idea. Trying to sort it all out has caused so much stress it has been unbelievable and what was even worse was that even after making a complaint the hospital trust managed to make even more mistakes.

 

I have spoken to a couple of solicitors but the consensus of opinion is you have to prove some damage has been done but simply can't do that so now just playing the waiting game to see what happens bu tit isn't easy.

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Yes, you would have to prove that, as a result of not being treated correctly when you first presented at the hospital, the outcome is now different from what would otherwise have been the case.

 

Medicine isn't really like diagnosing and fixing a problem with a car. It's bad that your previous tests weren't recorded in your notes, but if you are now well, or just a watch is now being kept on your arrhythmia, I would be grateful for that.

 

You will certainly not get far claiming for "stress and distress" in this case. What harm has been done? What compensation would help?

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..........

I have spoken to a couple of solicitors but the consensus of opinion is you have to prove some damage has been done ...........

 

basically, as b and c re post #10 re being claimable?

 

see how the complaints go, there may even be some recompense there re what has transpired so far re their 'mistakes'?


IMO

:-):rant:

 

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basically, as b and c re post #10

 

see how the complaints go, there may even be some recompense re what has transpired so far re their 'mistakes'?

 

For a successful claim, all the "links in the chain" must be present (or, for the last 'link' : defences - these would need to be absent or any award would be nullified or reduced)

 

This is why I set them out as a) to d) in the post you allude to (since I wasn't sure I'd been sufficiently clear on this in my previous post - #8).

 

It is nice to see the legal professionals have validated what I was suggesting was the situation : even if this means the OP has to conclude : "I don't yet have a case I can make them answer"

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Complaints still going on. Promised further investigation results which should have been received over a week ago. Keyhole surgery not successful so now its full blown open heart which I'm pretty sure could have been avoided if monitoring had been done instead of having an important test result lost and treatment delayed for 12 months. Was assured that action had been taken on some complaints but it clearly hasn't. There must be something that can be done, a serious heart condition and all the stress because of incompetance? Probably easier to just lay down and give up then the relatives can sue the damned hospital.

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Complaints still going on. Promised further investigation results which should have been received over a week ago. Keyhole surgery not successful so now its full blown open heart which I'm pretty sure could have been avoided if monitoring had been done instead of having an important test result lost and treatment delayed for 12 months. Was assured that action had been taken on some complaints but it clearly hasn't. There must be something that can be done, a serious heart condition and all the stress because of incompetance? Probably easier to just lay down and give up then the relatives can sue the damned hospital.

 

If they can sue, you can sue.

If you can't sue ... They wouldn't be able to.

 

At last you've identified a quantifiable harm : you've ended up needing open heart surgery rather than just 'keyhole'.

Until now you've not stated what "actionable" harm exists as you can't claim for stress / anxiety (unless medically diagnosed with these as a psychiatric condition, or they are consequential from some physical harm)

 

Do you think you'll be able to get an expert opinion confirming that the delay made the open heart surgery necessary?.

 

A claim would likely fail if they could provide expert testimony stating that you would have needed open heart surgery anyway, and that the delay was incidental, unless you could rebut this.

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No idea about any second opinions, very difficult to get that as it would need to be done by a specialist heart centre. It was well known that open heart surgery would be needed but when the keyhole procedures were improved it was assumed this would be a success. It wasn't and apparently there's no way it would have been, case too complex apparently so why try it? No proper tests, scans etc done for over 3 years so any amount of damage could have been caused in that time. Just have to go with it now, that is if they ever get around to it. Not holding my breath.

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