Rebecca suffered from sickle cell anaemia, which required frequent admissions to hospital. One such admission was to St Thomas’ Hospital in January 1996 and Rebecca remained an inpatient for several months. During that period, the hospital suffered an outbreak of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis “MDR-TB”. Three patients had contracted MDR-TB who were in hospital in the same ward and at the same time. In January 1998, Rebecca began to complain of symptoms of tuberculosis (TB) and she was seen by the chest physician who offered some conventional treatment that failed to cure her tuberculosis.
During the summer of 1998, Rebecca began to complain of excruciating pain in her left hip, which she thought different from her sickle cell pain. At the same time, she continued to have signs and symptoms of TB, but it was not until the summer of 1999 that appropriate tests were undertaken to establish whether this was multi-drug resistant. In August 1999, Rebecca was finally diagnosed and appropriate treatment was commenced.
Unfortunately, the MDR-TB had infected her left hip, which was removed on 1 October 1999. Rebecca was eventually discharged from hospital on 3 February 2000 ,but it was not until 15 October 2002 that a left hip replacement was given.
Rebecca contacted Paul McNeil in November 1999 and, with the assistance of public funding, the medical records were discovered (over 5,000 pages) and the appropriate experts reports obtained. Proceedings were issued in August 2002 with a trial date fixed for January 2004. The defence denied liability on the grounds that Rebecca contracted MDR-TB from direct personal contact with an infected patient, that it was reasonable not to include Rebecca as a contact of the infection and that it was reasonable not to test Rebecca for MDR-TB until the summer of 1999. Moreover, the defendants alleged that the claimant would have developed necrosis of her left hip in any event.
As the claim proceeded towards trial, the defendants initially made an offer to settle and then admitted liability. Finally the case was settled in the sum of £50,000 on 8 December 2003. Although no figure was agreed for general damages, approximately £30,000 was allowed for this.
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