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Case Study

Delayed diagnosis causes unnecessary injuries at Kings College Hospital

We settled a medical negligence claim on behalf of Tina, who suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of accident and emergency negligence at Kings College Hospital.

Tina, when aged 35, attended the A&E department of Kings College Hospital on 28 September 2006 complaining of severe abdominal pain. 

After initial investigations she was sent home with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

But the severe abdominal pain persisted and she attended her GP the following day. Her GP immediately suspected that she had appendicitis and sent her back to Kings College Hospital.

Tina was then admitted through the Accident and Emergency department of the hospital, but there was then a delay of some 30 hours before she underwent surgery.  By this time her appendix had perforated causing sepsis and gangrene. 

Because of the initial failure to timely diagnose compounded by the delayed surgery, Tina's bowel was damaged requiring re-section by way of an ileostomy (a surgical procedure where waste is removed from the small intestine. The end of the small intestine is brought through the skin and a small pouch is attached to remove waste).

Tina also had to undergo further surgery to reverse the ileostomy and this left abdominal scars. In addition to the physical consequences, these traumatic events caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and prevented Tina from returning to work. 

Tina instructed us to pursue a case for medical negligence against Kings College Hospital.

Richard obtained a report from an A&E Consultant who criticised the failure of the clinicians within the A&E department (who managed to lose the notes of Tina’s attendance) in failing to correctly diagnose an appendicitis. 

A report from a Consultant Surgeon was similarly critical of the failure to operate immediately whereby the damage to Tina's bowel and subsequent surgery probably would have been avoided. 

A psychiatric report confirmed these events had caused an adjustment disorder from which, fortunately, Tina made a good recovery even though she was left with permanent abdominal scarring. 

Following the service of a Letter of Claim the NHSLA denied liability on behalf of the Defendant Trust suggesting that the clinicians within the A&E department acted appropriately and the subsequent consequences would have occurred in any event. 

Proceedings were issued on 15 October 2009. On 21 April 2010 (before service of a Defence and without admission of liability) the Defendant made a Part 36 Offer of £75,000 damages together with payment of Tina’s costs.  The offer was accepted and the case compromised on that basis.  The case was funded by Legal Aid. 

After the case Tina said she was very satisfied with the service she received. She said the communication was consistent throughout the case and the service was very professional.

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