Over the years we have dealt with a large range of cases involving negligent treatment in A&E departments. Typical cases include:
- Delay in assessment of critically injured patients resulting in permanent injury or death
- Failure to investigate and recognise the underlying cause and seriousness of presentation resulting in progression of symptoms and life long injury or death
Specific examples of situations in which we have succeeded in medical negligence claims include:
- Delay in assessing children resulting in permanent brain injury and death
- Failure to investigate and treat serious underlying infection resulting in permanent brain injury and death
- Failure to identify serious head injury leading to failure to treat with consequence of permanent life changing brain injury
- Failure to properly investigate and treat cardiac arrests and stroke with the consequence of life changing injury
- Failure to properly investigate evolving cauda equina syndrome, assuming the patient is presenting with chronic lower back pain and failing to assess change in perineal sensation, bowl or bladder function and failure to arrange radiological investigation leading to permanent nerve injuries
What errors are made?
There is always a lot written in the press about problems with emergency care in the UK, with frequent references to hospitals being at "crisis point". But why? This is a complex issue with no straightforward answer. Possible explanations for the problems faced by A&E departments include an ageing population with long term and complex health issues, staff shortages, too few beds for those who need to be admitted, and a lack of information about where else patients can turn for help. This is all placing a strain on A&E departments.
When examining the A&E negligence claims we have dealt with, certain errors appear time and time again. These include:
- Failure to take a complete patient history
- Not performing an adequate examination
- Inadequate investigations (which might include blood tests, x-rays, scans)
- Incorrect reporting of test results
- Inappropriately sending patients home
- On discharge, providing poor (or no) advice regarding what to do if symptoms persist
Where can patients go other than A&E?
For those who are in urgent need of care, there are other alternatives which include:
- Urgent care centres
- Walk-in centres
- GP out of hours services
- Minor injury units
- The NHS 111 telephone advice service
These services are run with a mix of NHS and private provision. In considering the care provided by these services it is essential to understand who/which company or organisation is responsible for the care provided as well as assessing exactly what care should have been provided and how, had that care been given, the patient’s treatment and outcome would have been improved.