William was admitted to hospital as an acute emergency. He had been diagnosed at his local hospital as suffering from a diaphragmatic hernia, which had caused him considerable difficulties in breathing.
The hospital did not have an accident and emergency department and William was admitted directly to the ward, where he was immediately assessed by a nurse.
Unfortunately he was not seen by a senior doctor for more than two hours. During this time his condition was deteriorating. The senior registrar who saw William correctly diagnosed his condition and set up intravenous fluid to correct the hypovolaemia. He thought that surgery was required urgently, but not immediately.
In the meantime at approximately 20:15 hours, he was seen by an anaesthetist on the ward who described William as “in extremis”. He was immediately taken into the anaesthetic room where he was stabilised. Some time later successful surgery took place to repair the hernia.
Unfortunately the delay in treating William resulted in him suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome and with associated complications including infection, and neurological damage.
William remained in hospital for about six months. When he returned home he was dependent on oxygen, on his parents for all activities of daily living and suffered many chest infections.
At the time of the incident William was aged 11. He was unable to attend school and dependent on his mother for 24-hour care. Tragically, William died as a result of his injuries.
Proceedings had been issued by this time and the case had been fixed for trial.
The hospital denied liability. It contended that there was no evidence of negligence, and even with earlier treatment there would have been no different outcome.
Following negotiations the matter was settled for £115,000 plus costs.
Paul McNeil conducted the claim with the aid of public funding.
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