Successful Case Study For Clinical Negligence

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Case Study

Below details the case of Clinical Negligence claim on the behalf of Mr Ek: Widower and Executor of the Estate of the deceased Mrs Ab, at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust & Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs AB was a kind, caring person. She was well-mannered and polite, and she would do anything for anyone.  She was a mother to her son and step-son who were 12 & 15 years old.  She married her childhood sweetheart after her first marriage came to an end.  She supported her parents through the death of her brother and her mother’s own battle with cancer and was always there for them. She was her family’s rock.

In June 2013, at the age of 40 Mrs AB was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy almost immediately.  The treatment was painful and required her to be immobile for up to 16 hours at any one time.  Mrs AB’s treatment took its toll on her physically and mentally.

In November Mrs AB and Mr EK were advised that her cancer was incurable.  Their wedding day had been planned for Valentine’s Day 2014, but this was brought forwards to January in light of her terminal prognosis.  Following the wedding Mrs AB became very ill requiring admission to hospital and surgery.

Following a period of palliative care at Barnsley Hospice, Mrs AB died in March 2014 aged 41. 

As Mrs AB had regularly attended for cervical smears, the Defendants undertook an internal review of her samples from 2005, 2008 and 2011.  That review concluded that all 3 smear samples had been incorrectly interpreted.  They all contained abnormal cells.

Mr EK instructed Raleys Solicitors in Barnsley to investigate whether the failings by the Defendants in interpreting the smears since 2005 had caused her death.  They obtained expert evidence from an oncologist which concluded that the delay in diagnosing and treatment of Mrs AB’s abnormal smear results had caused her death, as she could have been treated and cured but for those delays.

Raleys Solicitors lodged a Letter of Claim with the Trusts in July 2015.  In December 2015 both Trusts denied that their interpretations of the smears had been negligent and argued that the false negative conclusions they had reached were reasonable given the inherently difficult nature of identifying and classifying abnormal cells.  However, they did agree that had the smears been interpreted correctly she would have survived.

In March 2016 Raleys Solicitors went into administration and Mr EK instructed Ison Harrison Solicitors to take over the claim. James Thompson, Partner and Head of the Clinical Negligence department had conduct of the claim and was assisted by his team including Anne Robertson, (Senior Solicitor) Ami Law (Assistant Solicitor) and Katrina Stapleton, (Paralegal).

Ison Harrison Solicitors commissioned a report from an expert in cytology and histopathology to consider the 3 samples.  He concluded that the 2005 and 2011 samples were negligently interpreted and reported.  In respect of the 2008 smear he concluded that although the smear showed some abnormalities, the cells were of a nature that some screeners would have reasonably reported it as normal, (i.e. a false negative).

In light of the supportive expert evidence Ison Harrison Solicitors then proceeded to investigate the past and future losses sustained by Mrs AB’s estate and those of her dependents.  Once the extensive quantum investigations were completed Court proceedings were initiated against both Defendants.

Following a number of extensions requested by the Defendants their Defence was provided in late October 2017.  Having obtained their own independent expert evidence from a Consultant Cytologist they continued to maintain that the 2005 & 2011 smears had been reasonably misinterpreted as false negatives and there was no case to answer.  Both the Defendants’ and Mr EK’s experts were eminent in their field.

As the parties proceeded through the timetable set by the Court towards a trial in March 2019 an offer was made in May 2018 to settle the claim with no admissions of fault in the sum of £100,000.  The offer was rejected.

Witness evidence and expert evidence was exchanged and the 2 independent cytology experts met to discuss their opposing opinions in respect of the reasonableness of the interpretation of the 2005 and 2011 smears.  Each maintained their position with no concessions made.

In November 2018, the parties met to see if a settlement agreeable to both could be reached so as to avoid trial in March 2019 with the time, stress, costs and risks that it would bring to both parties.  Shortly after that meeting the claim settled for £400,000.00.

As Mrs AB’s son remained a minor at the point of settlement, the Court was required to approve the settlement which was done in January 2019.

Mr EK’s principal motivation for bringing the claim was to get answers and ensure that Mrs AB’s son received compensation for the loss of his mother.  Whilst no amount of money could ever compensate for that loss, he was clear throughout of his desire to ensure that Master X would be properly provided for.

During the course of the case we obtained details of the charitable costs incurred by Barnsley Hospice in looking after Mrs AB during her final days.  The settlement reached with the Defendants included those costs and those recovered have been repaid to Barnsley Hospice by Mr EK and Master X.

It was both an honour and a privilege to represent Mr EK and Mrs AB’s family and we are very proud to have facilitated getting the answers they needed and bringing the claim to a successful conclusion so that Mrs AB’s last wishes could be fulfilled.

If you would like to know more, contact our clinical negligence team on 0113 284 5000, or alternatively email James.Thompson@isonharrison.co.uk.

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