At age 18 months, Luke suffered from constipation. He was seen by his GP who prescribed laxatives. A few days later, Luke's mother took him to the A&E Department at the Countess of Chester Hospital complaining of serious diarrhoea. The laxative therapy was stopped and Luke was discharged home.
Almost a year later, Luke was reviewed by a Paediatrician at Countess of Chester Hospital. His mother reported that he was again constipated. He was straining to evacuate his bowels and was only able to pass a stool every three or four days. A large faecal mass was found on examination and he was prescribed laxatives again.
Luke's condition initially improved but then soon deteriorated and the constipation returned. He was seen by a Paediatrician who increased his laxative dosage. While this appeared to work initially, Luke suffered a severe relapse of his symptoms just a few months later. He began to soil himself four to five times a day and was unable to alert him mother when he needed to go to the toilet.
Despite this, no alternative treatment or tests were suggested. Instead, Luke's doctors decided to constantly alter his dose of laxatives. His condition continued to deteriorate and his soiling worsened. This was incredibly upsetting for both Luke and his family.
Nearly one year after his severe relapse in symptoms, Luke underwent a rectal biopsy. This excluded Hirschsprung's disease. He later underwent an MRI scan which showed that, as a result of his long-term severe constipation, he had developed a mega-rectum, a serious and permanent condition often leading to life-long incontinence.
Luke's mother had grown incredibly frustrated with the care provided at the Countess of Chester Hospital and therefore arranged to see a Paediatric Surgeon in Leeds. He examined Luke and concluded that he was suffering from chronic constipation. He performed a manual evacuation of the faecal mass. Following this procedure, Luke saw a drastic improvement in his symptoms. His soiling reduced dramatically and he was much happier. He was able to evacuate his bowels every day with the use of suppositories.
Unfortunately, as a result of the delay in treatment, Luke's rectum has not reduced in size and he does not have any sensation of when he needs to evacuate his bowels. He continues to require suppository treatment. Once he inevitably stops responding to this treatment, he will need to use colonic irrigation to evacuate his bowels for the rest of his life.
Miss White instructed Fieldfisher to investigate Luke's claim. The trust had completed their own investigations into the treatment he received and admitted liability soon after Miss White contacted the firm. However, they made a derisory offer to settle the claim for £5,000. Jonathan and Jamie instructed a Paediatric Surgeon to comment on Luke's prognosis. This was initially difficult to predict as his condition was changing throughout the lifetime of the claim.
Following receipt of the Paediatric Surgeon's evidence, Jamie and Jonathan quantified the claim and made an offer to the Trust. Following further and lengthy negotiations, they were able to secure a settlement of £187,500 for Luke, very significantly higher than the trust's offer of £5,000.
Following the conclusion of the case, Miss White said:
"It was clear from the outset that I needed expert help in dealing with my son's case. Instructing Jonathan was the best decision for my son and I do not think I would have achieved the same outcome had I instructed other solicitors."
For further information about hospital negligence claims, paediatrics negligence claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Jonathan Zimmern on 03304606779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Image credit: Dennis Turner / Countess of Chester
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