Dealing with sickness and death is hard enough for families. However, when relatives believe that the medical staff charged with looking after their loved ones have not done their jobs properly, this is particularly trying.
It is no surprise therefore that some of these individuals choose to contact clinical negligence law firms to take forward legal claims.
Highlighting the potentially devastating effects of medical failings, a coroner recently ruled that doctors treating a toddler who died from a serious infection had failed to adequately recognise her condition.
According to a report in the Portsmouth News, Anabelle Shepherd was admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham with lethargy four months after she had had a bone transplant. The 22-month-old, who had the rare genetic condition Hurler syndrome, received treatment, but her condition worsened.
She was transferred to Southampton General Hospital two days later, but she subsequently died. A post-mortem examination could not determine whether a bacterial or viral infection caused her death.
The youngster had been on specialist drugs designed to suppress her immune system after the transplant, which left her at greater risk of infection.
During a recent inquest, Anabelle’s father Lee Shepherd said he and his wife Leanne believe their daughter was “let down at the final hurdle” by employees at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. The parents suggested that an incorrect diagnosis of gastroenteritis, delayed blood tests and initial treatment with oral rather than intravenous antibiotics at the medical centre meant their daughter’s condition worsened.
Since the case, the hospital has said it has altered its procedures for dealing with similar patients.
Recording a narrative verdict into Anabelle’s death, coroner Keith Wiseman remarked: “[Her] treatment at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth where she presented as unwell on December 23rd 2012 did not give adequate recognition to her vulnerable clinical status.”
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Shepherd remarked: “[Anabelle] went through so much in relation to the diagnosis, the bone marrow transplant, the chemotherapy – she was pretty much let down at the final hurdle. Those last two days have overshadowed a lot of happy memories of her.”
Meanwhile, Ms Shepherd added: “Hurlers is horrific. Anabelle was quite lucky in that it didn’t seem to have got her too much. We had two donors to choose from and the transplant went well. We never anticipated the end being as it was.”
A legal representative acting on behalf of the family suggested that there was an “underestimation” of the youngster’s condition. He added that while the doctors themselves are “clearly very knowledgeable”, in this case the systems did not work.
While taking legal action cannot undo the harm caused, it can help families to achieve a sense of justice. In some cases, the compensation won by medical negligence lawyers can be used to help pay for people’s ongoing medical costs.
Increasingly, people are heading online to find the right medical negligence solicitors. This can be a quick and convenient way of sourcing the relevant legal assistance. Of course, it is vital that people choose suitably skilled and experienced legal representatives.
About the Author – Anna Longdin is a freelance blogger who has written widely on the subject of medical negligence for a range of sites, including Dutton Gregory LLP