A woman who suffered negligence at the hands of the NHS has won a compensation settlement of £1.1 million after approaching Simpson Millar LLP for help.
The woman had been diagnosed as having lupus nephritis Grade V, a kidney inflammation caused by systemic lupus erythematosus, which is a name given to a collection of autoimmune diseases. It is well known that Grade V lupus nephritis is very likely to progress to end-stage kidney failure. However, when she attended casualty with large amounts of protein in her urine, a build up of fluid in her body's tissue, increased fluid in the abdominal cavity, and profoundly low albumin in the blood – a protein made by the liver. The medical team failed to diagnosis severe nephrotic syndrome, a response sent by the immune system that is triggered by an infection or disease. They also failed to transfer her urgently to the Renal Team to deal with her kidney problems.
The right diagnosis was not made for another 2 months. By this time, she had developed spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, an acute bacterial infection of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Unfortunately, this led to the woman suffering a life-threatening illness which would have been avoided had the correct diagnosis of severe nephrotic syndrome been made and treatment started when she first attended casualty.
Sadly, the woman was then admitted to hospital having been found unconscious at home. She needed exploratory surgery and it was discovered that her abdomen was full of pus – she had suffered catastrophic pneumococcal septicaemia and bacterial peritonitis and acute kidney failure. Pneumococcal septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by bacteria in the blood stream and bacterial peritonitis is an infection in the abdominal cavity.
She suffered a stroke whilst she was on the operating table and while she was in a coma, she suffered more devastating problems – she required a tracheostomy and suffered gangrene of the toes on both feet. Some were found to be “hanging off” as they had detached themselves. Others were surgically amputated. She also suffered a second stroke and brain damage because of cerebritis, an infection of the brain.
The woman subsequently developed osteomyelitis, a bone infection, and will need to undergo amputations on both of her legs below the knee in the future.
The injuries have had devastating effects. She is gravely weakened by the experience. Her mobility is significantly restricted, and is soon to become more so when she undergoes the below-knee amputations, which she has been advised, are necessary. She will not be strong enough to wear artificial limbs, and is likely to require 24-hour care for the rest of her life. She will need specialist, and specially adapted, accommodation in order to manage. She is unable to drive, both because of her physical disabilities and because of the cognitive impairment which she suffered as a result of her strokes. She requires help with bathing, dressing, cutting up food, transferring in the toilet, and many other aspects of everyday life. She is very frail and weak.
At Simpson Millar LLP, we have a number of solicitors that are experienced in medical negligence. Many of them practiced within the world of medicine and know the damaging effects of a delayed or wrong diagnosis.
We were able to secure an early admission from the Trust concerned that their hospital failed to arrange an urgent referral for the woman to see a renal specialist. The Trust subsequently admitted that the delay in referral was responsible for her illness and its consequences.
Despite the hospitals arguments that she would have suffered some of the injuries in any event, because of her underlying lupus, we were able to negotiate a settlement of £1.1 million, which will go a long way to help her continue to live a fulfilling life.