Ros was 49 years old and working as a missionary in Africa. She had travelled to the UK for a wedding. During the festivities she developed a fever and headaches. She went to the infectious diseases unit of Churchill Hospital in Oxford on 21 September 2004.
After admission to the hospital, Ros was put on IV fluids for possible rehydration. The next day it was decided that she no longer required intravenous fluids and they were stopped. However, the tube (cannula) that was inserted into the crook of her elbow to deliver the fluids was not removed for a further two days, which was against the hospital’s own guidelines.
Ros began complaining of pain and redness in her arm where the cannula was sited, and this worsened over the following days. She was given painkillers and a hot compress to ease the pain.
Later tests on the wound indicated that there was a bacterial infection, staphylococcus aureus, and antibiotics were prescribed. Treatment commenced four days after Ros began complaining of pain.
Ros continued to deteriorate in the hospital and her nephew, himself a doctor, voiced concerns over her medical and nursing care. She developed pneumonia and by 1 October went into severe respiratory distress. She was transferred to the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) the following day.
Ros developed septic shock and needed to be put on a life support machine. The toes on her left foot had to be amputated and her heart, kidneys, liver and lungs continued to be affected. She remained unconscious for more than a month and when she awoke she was initially unresponsive. She had sustained a number of strokes during her illness and, as a result, suffered irreversible brain damage. To her credit and because of her character and determination, Ros was able to return to Africa, albeit with substantial care and support.
Paul McNeil was instructed on behalf of Ros. The case was tried on liability in 2008. The judge found that the cannula should have been removed, and she should have been prescribed treatment for her staph. infection earlier.
Just before the date fixed for the quantum hearing, the case was settled for a lump sum of £1 million plus annual payments of £28,000 to age 60 and £110,000 after age 60, for the rest of her life.
The award will allow Ros to continue her work in Africa and retire to the UK at age 60 with dignity and full professional support. The case was conducted on a “no win, no fee” basis.
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