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Medical negligence (also known as clinical negligence) is a term used to describe circumstances where there has been a lack of reasonable skill or care by a doctor, nurse or other health professional. It can be a positive act or an omission. It can occur at any stage of a patient’s medical treatment from the time of assessment, referral, diagnosis or treatment. It is an extremely complex area of law which demands specialist legal representation and expertise to take forward a successful compensation claim.

To succeed in a compensation claim the injured party must be able to show that the doctor, nurse or health professional owed them a duty of care, that they breached that duty and that they have suffered harm as a result that was reasonably foreseeable.

At Lester Aldridge, our specialist medical negligence lawyers have between them over 30 years’ experience of successfully pursuing compensation claims. We are far more than just claims handlers. We pride ourselves on providing a client service that is empathetic, client-focused and solution-driven. We are passionate about our work and the results we achieve for those we represent.

We pursue medical negligence compensation claims in all areas of medicine. Some of the most common areas of our practice include:

Amputation Claims

Amputations resulting in the loss of a limb in whole or part can occur as a result of medical negligence in any number of circumstances.

Common errors resulting in an amputation of limbs include:

  • Where there is a failure by treating clinicians to diagnose lower limb ischaemia or a deep vein thrombosis
  • An infection which has been poorly treated
  • A surgical error in circumstances where a surgeon amputates too much of a limb or operates in the wrong area.
  • Circulatory problems that could have been prevented resulting in an amputation
  • Poor management of diabetes
  • Misdiagnosis of cancer
  • Delayed diagnosis of sepsis

Inevitably not all amputations result from clinical negligence. Losing a limb is life-changing and can result in psychological injury along with a need for extensive rehabilitation, care, future medical treatment, aids and equipment and adaptations to your home. In cases where the amputation has resulted from a lack of all appropriate medical treatment and care it may be possible to bring a compensation claim.

At Lester Aldridge, our skilled medical negligence solicitors can investigate and take forward a compensation claim. In addition, we can provide all necessary support during your claim to ensure you have access to all appropriate medical treatment and care along with access to rehabilitation, healthcare services and where appropriate social care through our specialist community care team

Birth Injuries

Medical negligence cases resulting from birth injuries to mother or child sadly are all too common. Sometimes birth injuries are temporary and will resolve in time, others can last a lifetime. Not all birth injuries are the result of clinical negligence but a significant proportion of such injuries could have been avoided with better and alternative treatment and can lead to a compensation claim. At Lester Aldridge, we have significant experience in the investigation and management of birth injury claims.

Brain Injury

Brain injuries often develop as a result of a lack of oxygen during labour and delivery. Hypoxic ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that describes starvation to the brain and the consequences that result from oxygen deprivation.

The most common brain related injury at birth is cerebral palsy. In many cases, cerebral palsy could have been avoided with better and alternative medical treatment and care. Common examples include:

  • Failure to monitor, detect and treat maternal infections
  • Failure to plan and carry out an emergency caesarean section
  • Failure to monitor fetal distress and facilitate an earlier delivery
  • Failure to identify and treat a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Failure to use birth assisting tools such as forceps correctly.

Brachial Plexus Injury

This type of injury occurs when the upper extremity of the arm is injured, usually during delivery. In essence, the shoulder is stretched as the baby passes down the birth canal, it commonly occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. It is a medical emergency and requires prompt medical intervention and appropriate and safe specialist manoeuvres to facilitate delivery. Medical negligence cases arise in circumstances where manoeuvres are not carried out promptly or are performed with a lack of skill or care. It can also result from poor decision making where it was known that there was a risk of such an injury (large baby, maternal diabetes) and with appropriate planning and an alternative method of delivery (notably a planned caesarian section) it could have been avoided. Issues of informed consent may arise.

Erb’s Palsy

Is a form of brachial plexus injury caused by birth trauma. It is marked by the nerves of the upper arm being affected. Infants with Erb’s Palsy may experience a loss of feeling and weakness in the affected arm. In severe cases, infants may have total paralysis of the affected arm. As with other types of brachial plexus injuries, it can result from clinical negligence and result in a compensation claim.

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that occurs when an infant’s head and shoulders get trapped behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. Although shoulder dystocia is relatively rare, the complications that can arise with this type of injury can be severe. Along with the risk of maternal haemorrhaging and uterine rupture, the baby may experience difficulties breathing, they may suffer a collarbone fracture, cerebral palsy, a brachial plexus injury, and in some cases even death.

Infections

In some instances, a birth injury can be the result of an infection passed on from the mother. Examples include Group B strep infection or meningitis. Other birth injuries that can result from the mother are injuries that develop during pregnancy that potentially the clinicians should have tested for or found earlier. Examples include folic acid deficiency and anaemia. In some cases, it is possible to show that the injury could have been avoided by early diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy and result in a successful compensation claim.

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome

Can occur when the baby is under stress potentially as a result of a long and difficult delivery. The baby defecates in the uterus and then breathes in the meconium, this can result in severe breathing problems after birth. Babies born with signs of meconium aspiration syndrome require emergency treatment in a specialist neonatal unit. Medical negligence cases can arise where the condition is not recognised and treated in a timely fashion. It may also occur as a result of negligent management of labour and delivery where there was a failure to note and act upon clear signs of fetal distress and facilitate early delivery by emergency caesarian section or an assisted delivery.

Injuries from Delivery

Injuries may also result from the use of a vacuum extractor or forceps, tools designed to assist in delivery. By way of example, forceps may be misapplied resulting in skull fractures and haemorrhage inside the baby’s skull. The baby’s facial nerves may be damaged. The mother may suffer physical injury notably 3rd or 4th degree tears. All of these injuries can result from a lack of all appropriate medical treatment and care.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn

PPHN occurs when the pulmonary artery responsible for delivering oxygen to a newborn shuts down. In turn, the infant has a difficult time breathing, which can lead to rapid heartbeats, cyanosis, heart murmurs, and more. It is often the result of a difficult birth, yet in many instances, it results from clinical negligence. For example, certain prescription-based medications have been linked to an increase in blood pressure and if taken during pregnancy can place stress on the infant. Other examples include failure to treat maternal infections and a failure to detect and prevent infant asphyxia.

At Lester Aldridge, we are highly experienced in investigating birth injury claims and in taking forward successful compensation claims. We know just how devastating a birth injury can be. It is all the worst when it has arisen as a result of medical negligence and was preventable. No amount of compensation can put things right but it can result in essential provision for the cost of care to support your child and meet their immediate and ongoing needs. We utilise our expertise to maximize any compensation award.

In addition to your compensation claim at Lester Aldridge, we have a highly experienced and dedicated Community Care team who can support you during your claim to ensure access to all appropriate medical treatment and care, therapies, equipment, housing and Education through representations and challenges made to the NHS and other public bodies.

Cancer Misdiagnosis

There are more than 360,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year which represents nearly 990 per day. Cancer Research UK suggest that every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer can start almost anywhere. It can stay in one spot, or it can metastasise and spread throughout the body. Some cancers will grow quickly whilst others are less aggressive. Cancers are named depending upon where they start in the body. Tumors can be either malignant or benign.

When it comes to cancer, the timing of the diagnosis can inevitably make a huge difference to outcomes. Often when cancer is detected early on, it is possible to surgically remove all the cancerous tumors and thereby reduce the risk of the disease returning. When cancer is detected too late the cancerous tumors may have already spread to other parts of the body, making surgery an ineffective treatment. Sadly, all too often there is a delay in diagnosis.

Commonly misdiagnosed cancers include:

  • Breast cancer – one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, in some cases a tumour is wrongly diagnosed as non-cancerous cysts, breast inflammation, or fibrocystic breast disease resulting in a delay in diagnosis of the cancer and treatment.
  • Colorectal cancer – there are many types of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) that can mimic the symptoms of colorectal cancer. Irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis are some of them, as well as haemorrhoids resulting in misdiagnosis.
  • Lung cancer – usually manifests in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, it can be misdiagnosed with respiratory conditions such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.
  • Pancreatic cancer – is similar to colorectal cancer, this can be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome, or even gallstones or pancreatitis. Some doctors make the mistake of diagnosing pancreatic cancer as diabetes.

Compensation claims may arise not only where there is a failure to diagnose cancer but also where the cancer is misclassified. Cases also arise from false positives.

Common examples of diagnostic negligence include cases where there is:

  • A failure to provide standard screening in accordance with national recommendations
  • Ignoring patient complaints and symptoms
  • Failing to seek further testing for symptoms or abnormal cancer screening results
  • Failure to refer a patient to an appropriate cancer specialist
  • Failure to disclose test results to the patient
  • Failure to consider a patient’s previous diagnoses, medical history, or family history of cancer during diagnosis
  • Histology reporting errors

At Lester Aldridge, we have genuine experience of handling cancer misdiagnosis compensation claims in all areas whether it is a cervical screening error or simply a GP’s failure to recognise symptoms and to refer for specialist investigation. We have access to a panel of independent medical experts comprising oncologists and cancer specialists who we work with to evidence your claim. We pride ourselves on our ability to secure and marshall all necessary independent expert evidence to take forward a successful compensation claim and to maximise the level of compensation awarded.

Cauda Equine

The cauda equina is a bundle of spinal nerves and spinal nerve roots. Cauda equina syndrome (CES) occurs when the nerve roots of the cauda equina are compressed and disrupt motor and sensory function to the lower extremities and bladder. Patients with this syndrome need to be admitted to hospital as a medical emergency. CES can lead to incontinence and even permanent paralysis.

Common causes of cauda equina syndrome include:

  • Trauma
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated disks
  • Spinal tumors
  • Cancerous tumors
  • Inflammatory and infectious conditions
  • Accidental medical intervention

Common symptoms include

  • Low back pain
  • Pain in one leg or both legs that starts in the buttocks and travels down the back of the thighs and legs (sciatica)
  • Numbness in the groin or area of contact if sitting on a saddle (perineal or saddle paresthesia)

When CES occurs it is imperative that there is a prompt diagnosis and treatment A delay in diagnosis and treatment can result in a far worse outcome with life-changing injuries to include permanent paralysis. We are well aware of the issues and the need for a forensic approach to the investigation and management of any claim. We have access to a panel of medical experts with particular expertise in this area. At Lester Aldridge, we have handled many successful claims relating to delayed diagnosis recovering high levels of compensation.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes movement and co-ordination difficulties. The brain damage usually happens before, during, or shortly after birth.

There are three kinds of cerebral palsy: spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy, and ataxic cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy includes stiffness and a problem moving limbs. Athetoid cerebral palsy involves involuntary, uncontrolled, and sometimes abnormal movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy includes problems with a sense of balance, depth-perception, or walking.

Since cerebral palsy is a brain injury, other areas of the brain can inevitably be affected. Some children with cerebral palsy also have trouble with hearing, sight, and speech problems. They may also have problems with bladder control and problems with muscles.

There are many number of causes of cerebral palsy. In some cases, the exact cause is unclear. Common causes include circumstances where there has been:

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain
  • An infection caught by the mother in pregnancy
  • Meningitis

Cerebral palsy can result from negligent medical care but that is not always the case. There are many circumstances where It can occur without negligence. That said there are many instances in which clinicians and midwives can be said to have failed in their duty of care resulting in brain injury.

Medical negligence resulting in cerebral palsy can occur where there is a:

  • Failure to properly monitor and assess the fetal heartbeat during and after delivery
  • Failure to schedule and provide a timely C-section
  • Failure to detect and treat maternal infections
  • Failure to use birth-assisting tools correctly, such as forceps or a vacuum extraction tool
  • Failure to correct umbilical cord problems, such as a prolapsed cord
  • Failure to supply oxygen in a timely manner to an asphyxiated infant
  • Failure to monitor respiratory and oxygen treatments

Cerebral palsy affects each child differently depending upon the type of the severity of the disorder. A successful compensation claim will, however, secure the future of your child and mean that the lifetime costs of keeping your child cared for are met. Any award of compensation will be based upon the lifetime needs of your child and will run into several millions of pounds depending upon the severity of injuries. An assessment will be made following consideration of all of your child’s needs for each stage of their life to include medical costs, the cost of care, education, transport, therapies (physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, portage), orthotics, aids and equipment, assisted technology, accommodation, loss of earnings, loss of pension rights, the cost of holidays to give that of a few examples.

With access to independent medical experts who are leaders in their field, our dedicated team of lawyers will investigate your claim leaving no stone unturned. In the event that a claim for compensation is evidenced, we will guide you through the claims process to settlement or trial securing the maximum level of compensation for your claim.

Encephalitis

Encephalitis is the term used to describe a swelling or inflammation of the brain. It usually results from a viral infection but can also be caused by a problem with the immune system or a bacterial or fungal infection. Common causes include viruses such as glandular fever, flu, mumps and even cold sores.

It is a relatively rare event which according to the Brain and Spine Foundation affects around 4,000 people in the UK annually.  Encephalitis is an extremely serious condition which can be life threatening and requires urgent medical treatment. The earlier that a diagnosis is made and treatment started the more successful it is likely to be and the better the outcome.

Some people will make a full recovery with prompt medical treatment. Sadly, others do not and can be left with brain injury and residual symptoms.

Compensation claims may arise in circumstances where there has been a delay in diagnosis and in affording medical treatment, for example, a GP or hospital clinician may fail to suspect encephalitis despite noting the symptoms. The symptoms may be thought to be more in keeping with another condition such as meningitis, a stroke or brain tumour leading to a delay in diagnosis. In addition, in circumstances where the diagnosis is made, there may be a failure to treat promptly or to provide all appropriate treatment.

Clinical negligence claims related to encephalitis are complex. A successful compensation claim necessitates a forensic approach to any investigation which will serve to build a timeline of treatment. We pride ourselves on our ability to obtain and marshall all necessary expert evidence and to take forward a successful compensation claim.

Meningitis Misdiagnosis

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can affect anyone but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.

Meningitis can be either bacterial or viral. Bacterial meningitis is rare but more serious than viral meningitis. Whilst viral meningitis will usually get better on its own without medical intervention or treatment bacterial meningitis usually requires an emergency hospital admission.

Most people will make a full recovery from meningitis, but it can sometimes cause serious, long-term problems and in addition can be life threatening. Some of the most common complications associated with meningitis are:

  • Hearing loss, which may be partial or total
  • Recurrent seizures (epilepsy)
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Co-ordination, movement and balance problems
  • Learning difficulties and behavioural problems
  • Vision loss, which may be partial or total
  • Loss of limbs – amputation is sometimes necessary to stop the infection spreading
  • Bone and joint problems, such as arthritis
  • Kidney problems

Bacterial meningitis must be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. In some cases, the treatment also includes prescribing corticosteroids to try and reduce inflammation of the meninges.

Medical negligence cases in this area of medicine most commonly arise following a delay in diagnosis either by a GP in primary care or on presentation to a hospital and in affording appropriate treatment. Meningitis in its presentation is often confused, particularly in young children or babies, with a simple viral illness. Compensation following a successful medical negligence claim can run into millions of pounds.

Our specialist medical negligence solicitors have considerable experience of investigating and taking forward successful compensation claim resulting from poor medical treatment in meningitis cases.

Sepsis Negligence Claims

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. Common signs and symptoms include fever, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and confusion.

Sepsis can be triggered by an infection in any part of the body. The most common sites of infection leading to sepsis are the lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis.

Sepsis can occur when you are an inpatient in a hospital or at home. It is said that you are most at risk in circumstances where you have recently undergone surgery, have a urinary catheter in place or following or during a prolonged stay in hospital.

Sometimes it is not possible to identify the specific infection or the actual source of the sepsis. Normally when someone has an infection because of their immune system the infection remains in one place. The body then produces white blood cells to attack the bugs, which have caused the infection and this results in inflammation.

If someone’s immune system is compromised or they have a particularly severe infection, it can spread quickly through the blood to other parts of the body. When this happens the immune system goes into overdrive and affects the entire body. There can be widespread inflammation which in itself can result in serious problems to include tissue damage. Blood flow can also be interrupted which in turn can lead to a drop in blood pressure resulting in damage to both organs and tissues.

Diagnosis requires a battery of tests to include blood tests, urine tests, histology and imaging. Sepsis can be very hard to identify particularly in young children as many of its signs are also common in routine childhood illness

Early, aggressive treatment boosts the chances of survival. People who have sepsis require close monitoring and treatment in a hospital intensive care unit. Medical negligence cases arise in circumstances where the sepsis was misdiagnosed and not treated in a timely fashion.

Lester Aldridge has a team of experienced medical negligence solicitors who can assist you with your sepsis negligence compensation claim. With a forensic approach to claim investigation and access to a panel of specialist medical experts in this field, we are well placed to investigate and take forward a successful compensation claim. We utilise our expertise to evidence the extent of our injuries and financial losses and to maximise the level of any compensation award.

Spinal Injury

With any surgery, there is the risk of complications. When surgery is done near the spine and spinal cord, these complications (if they occur) can be very serious.

Any time you operate on the spine, there is some risk of injuring the spinal cord. This can lead to serious injuries to the nerves or the covering of the spinal cord – the dura. Damage to the spinal cord can result in paralysis in certain areas, depending on which spinal nerves are affected.

Whilst the outcome of spinal surgery in many cases is extremely positive sadly, errors can sometimes be made resulting in significant and life-changing injury.

Common procedures where errors may occur include:

  • Discectomies
  • Disc replacement surgery
  • Laminectomies
  • Spinal Fusion

There are any number of surgical or other errors that can be made which result in an adverse outcome to include an operation performed at the wrong level of the spine, surgical technique errors resulting in nerve injury, delays in undertaking surgery.

At Lester Aldridge, we can offer real expertise in this area. We have particular experience of dealing with cases involving spinal surgery that has gone wrong as a result of poor surgical technique. Whilst no amount of compensation can repair the damage that has been done it can help rebuild lives.

 

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