Father dies from chicken pox after string of hospital failures | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Father dies from chicken pox after string of hospital failures

Paul McNeil won a substantial sum of compensation for the widow of a 38 year old man who died from chicken pox related pneumonia after doctors repeatedly failed to diagnose and treat his condition.

Dominic died in hospital in November 2005 from a complication of chicken pox. He had to wait 55 hours to get a diagnosis and a further 12 hours to receive the medication that would have prevented his death.

Dominic, who was married with a young son, developed a rash and a high temperature in November 2005 at home. He was not diagnosed with chicken pox (or any illness) by two GPs, NHS Direct and a number of junior doctors from James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough where he was eventually admitted on a Saturday morning. All of them failed to recognise the classic symptoms of the chicken pox.

Eventually, on the Monday morning, he was seen by a dermatologist, two days after his admission approximately 5 days after the rash developed.

The dermatologist immediately diagnosed chicken pox. Further delays by the nurses and pharmacy meant that Dominic was not given the necessary medication (acyclovir) for 12 hours.

Sadly, he went on to develop chicken pox related pneumonia and died five days after his admission to hospital.

Dominic's widow instructed Paul McNeil to represent her in a claim against the James Cook Hospital. She had been unable to find any solicitors in the North East to take her case on a no win no fee basis.

The claim settled just before going to trial with the hospital agreeing to pay a substantial sum in compensation to her and her son.

After the case, Dominic’s wife said:

"I would wholeheartedly recommend Paul to anyone seeking to prove a medical negligence claim. He worked extremely conscientiously on my behalf and continually reassured me, despite the whole process being very long and involved (nearly 3 years, with a mountain of paperwork), despite the obvious distress of going over and over traumatic events, and despite my persistent worries about the ongoing costs involved.

"I believe that Paul and our Barrister, Henry Witcomb, secured the best possible settlement for my case and I am very glad I trusted their confidence."

Paul said:

"The failure of doctors in the community and in hospital to make a diagnosis led to serious delays in giving him the medication that would have halted the spread of the chicken pox virus and ultimately prevented his death. This settlement will not make up for the family’s loss but will help secure the financial position for the Dominic’s widow and son."

Contact us

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 03304606804 or email paul.mcneil@fieldfisher.com.


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.

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