Medical Negligence

 

60 seconds with a medical negligence lawyer

Over the following year we will be sharing a series of question and answer articles about our day-to-day lives in the medical negligence team. This week, it’s Rachel Carey's turn, a solicitor in the team.

Rachel qualified in April 2016 and joined the Clinical Negligence team at Boyes Turner in November 2016. Rachel’s clients have suffered obstetric and gynaecological injuries, Erb’s palsy, pressure sores, disability resulting from delayed diagnosis and treatment of cancer. She acts for the bereaved spouses and children of patients who have died as a result of negligent medical care.

  • What made you choose a career in clinical negligence?
    The driving force behind my decision to study law and specialise in claimant clinical negligence work was my desire to help David, rather than Goliath. I have a keen interest in medicine and enjoy using my skills and expertise to help our clients get back on their feet or live a more fulfilling and stress free life following a medical accident. I find it incredibly satisfying to be in a position which allows me to guide clients through the legal process which I know many will find daunting and overwhelming.
     
  • Which personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work? 
    It is really important for a clinical negligence solicitor to have empathy, be able to show understanding and have the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. As the majority of the medical accidents we deal with cause life changing injuries which devastating consequences to our clients and their families, I ensure that I always bear that in mind and treat them sensitively and patiently.
     
  • What is the most rewarding part of your work? 
    I recently met with a young client’s Mum on a case where the hospital had admitted liability. She told me how relieved she was to know that, as a result of the compensation, her son, who has cerebral palsy, would be looked after and taken care of for the rest of his life when her and her husband were no longer able to. She was excited to be able to move into a more appropriately sized and adapted home which could cater for her son’s needs. I could see how much that meant to her and to know that the work I had been a part of had helped was incredibly rewarding and made me realise even more how important the work we do is for people.

Local amputee and children's charities to bring hope to disabled Romanian children

Local charities have created a unique partnership that will see life-changing artificial limbs and wheelchairs transported from South-east England to help many amputee kids in Romania who have little hope of receiving a prosthesis which will change their lives.

Farnborough-based Limbcare, a group that provides peer support to limb-impaired individuals and communities and which is committed to recycling and reusing prosthesis, is joining forces with Kent charity Bless The Children (UK), to send this equipment to their long-term partner ‘FundatiaTheranova’ in Oradea, Romania.

Led by Chairman Ray Edwards MBE, the UK’s longest-surviving quad amputee, Limbcare has been able to collect a large number of used prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and walking aids through its work with local hospitals since it was founded in 2010.

We, helped bring about the encounter between Ray and Bless The Children (UK)’s Carol Marsh that led to the idea that these limbs and wheelchairs, which were sitting unused, could be used to help to Fundatia Theranova to provide low-cost prostheses to their patients..

Limbcare’s Chairman Ray Edwards MBE said: “We are delighted and proud to help in this initiative which fits clearly with Limbcare’s mission towards creating greater independence for all amputees and limb impaired people, and helping individuals improve their quality of life.”

Bless The Children (UK)’s Carol Marsh added: “Words cannot express how much joy these limbs will bring to the young people we are helping in Romania. Many have little or no hope of regaining their mobility. This simple gesture will have a major impact on their immediate and later lives.”

Carol led a convoy of several cars and 4×4’s to Yateley, Hampshire, on Friday 10th November, to collect as many prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and walking aids as they could. These will then be packed and shipped by road to Romania later in November.

Claire Roantree, a partner at Boyes Turner, said: “The work that Ray and Carol are doing will change lives. We’re delighted to be able to help fund the transport that will get these limbs and wheelchairs quickly to the people who need them”.

Since 2001 Bless The Children (UK) has provided 33 limbs to children and young people and sent 10 kits to be assembled in Romania. Theranova not only custom-builds and fits prosthetic limbs but also provides a full support and follow-up programme.

 More information about the two charities:

·       Limbcare Limbcare was formed on 8th June 2010 by Ray Edwards MBE (the UK’s Longest surviving quad amputee), Alex Hyde-Smith, Roy Wright and Barry Perrin. To create empathy, not sympathy, to all amputees and the limb impaired. Limbcare has found that often redundant or unusable limbs are scrapped into landfill sites. They have arranged pick up facilities throughout the UK to bring these to their Recycling Centre in Camberley.
Parts are sent overseas for reuse, some specialised parts resold while others can be broken up for scrap metal to be recycled thereby creating money to be ploughed back into mentoring trainee prosthetists and technicians.

·       Bless The Children (UK) became a registered charity in January 1997. Its members have been working as volunteers in Romania since 1990.  In 1996 they took over the Darmanesti Day Centre to provide social and practical help to the elderly, poor families with disadvantaged children and individuals living in difficult circumstances in the small rural town of Darmanesti, North-East Romania.

Watch That’s Surrey TV’s interview with Limbcare and Bless the Children HERE.

London Prosthetics Centre Case Managers Event: The Amputee's Journey

On 3 November 2017, we have the pleasure of hosting the London Prosthetics Centre Case Managers Training day, focusing on amputation, at our office in Reading.

The training will encompass the journey of an amputee from surgery to full rehabilitation using prosthetics across medical and legal intervention to rehabilitation.

This is a not to miss event and places are going fast!

There is a great line up of speakers who will be:

·       Ella Dove, London Prosthetics Centre client and amputee

·       Mr Shehan Hettiaratchy,  Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Trauma lead and lead surgeon; consultant plastic, hand and reconstructive surgeon

·       Abdo Haidar, Consultant Prosthetist and Clinical Director of The London Prosthetic Centre

·       Dr Imad Sedki, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

·       Allyson Ballard, Clinical specialist occupational therapist

·       Dr Ian McCurdie, Consultant in rehabilitation medicine, Remedy Healthcare

·       David Sanderson, Barrister, 12 Kings Bench Walk

·       Deborah Bent, Charity manager – Limbless Association

A buffet lunch and refreshments will be provided.

How to book

To book your place and let us know of any dietary requirements, please email our events team.

How to pay

The cost for the day is £50 (9am start – 5pm finish).

·       Cheque: Send cheque to Hugh Steeper Ltd, Unit 20 Kingsmill Business Park, Chapel Mill Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 3GZ

·       Credit card: Call 0208 549 7010

·       BACS:
Sort code: 20-00-00
Account No: 10229652
Account Name: Hugh Steeper Ltd
IBAN No: GB67 BARC 20000010 2296 52Swift No: BARCGB22

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Over recent years, the treatment of cancer has advanced dramatically.  Many forms of cancer now have record survival rates. Nonetheless, further research is needed and awareness of signs and symptoms is still the key to beating breast cancer.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month Boyes Turner are supporting thousands of organisations worldwide in highlighting the importance of early diagnosis and prompt treatment to give breast cancer sufferers the best chance of a good and long lasting prognosis.

A diagnosis of cancer is always devastating but detection at an early stage and a prompt referral for treatment are critical to a successful outcome.

As clinical negligence specialists we are regularly contacted by people who have experienced a delay in diagnosis of breast cancer leading to an exacerbation of their condition, the need for more invasive treatment, increased pain and disfigurement. Some of our saddest cases have required us to act for the bereaved partners and children of women whose untreated cancer has resulted in premature death.

Sometimes the delay has occurred because a GP fails to consider breast cancer as a diagnosis and suggest a review of ongoing symptoms. In other cases, having suspected breast cancer, the GP or the surgery staff, fail to refer a patient for further investigations.

We have seen cases where a referral to the wrong specialist has taken place, or where there has been an unnecessary delay in arranging tests or treatment, or follow up from an abnormal test result. In some cases incorrect reporting of scans or test results gives false reassurance which in turn leads to further delay.

Recently scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute published results from a genetic study which found that primary breast tumours do not spread until the later stages of the disease. Research findings such as these reinforce the importance of early action as localised tumours are easier and less invasive to treat and offer the patient a better post-treatment long term prognosis.

If you or a member of your family have suffered serious injury as a result of medical negligence on 0800 029 4804 or email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Brighter Future Partner - a year on

Boyes Turner has been proud to support Meningitis Now as a Brighter Future Partner over the last 12 months. The charity is dedicated to fighting meningitis in the UK, supporting the families of those affected and funding vital research into this disease.

Over the past year we have enjoyed finding different ways to raise money to support Meningitis Now’s work, whilst raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.

Our first event, in September last year, was the Toddle Waddle  – a sponsored walk for toddlers in Forbury Gardens in Reading.  It was a great success and raised over £700 for the charity and a reminder that these very young members of society are most at risk from the infection. It was great to see so many taking part.

As Christmas approached, the Boyes Turner medical negligence team ran two Christmas wreath making evenings. After the first evening sold out, a second was added and everybody enjoyed making  traditional festive decorations. It was great to see everyone leave with something hand-made that (hopefully) would last the entire festive season.

Then in February of this year, we continued the craft theme, with a ‘Made with Love’ fundraising event for Valentines Day, at which people could make their own Valentines Day card, create Valentine bunting and decorate their own “love mugs”, amongst other crafts.

May Mayhem provided a week of events which included a mobile ice cream trolley touring the office for our staff, a party in the park sports event, a picture quiz and a raffle.  The most sought after prize was the chocolate bouquet!

Solicitor Julie Marsh said:

“We’ve had a fantastic year supporting Meningitis Now. We would like to thank the team of organisers and everybody who has taken part in the fundraising events.”

We appreciate the life changing impact of meningitis has on individuals and their families. Those who survive the condition may experience long term physical effects of sepsis including brain injury and amputation. If you are concerned about the medical care you or a family member has received and would like medical negligence advice please contact our team on 0800 029 4803 or email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

What is osteosarcoma and how is it treated?

Children with Cancer is a UK charity which aims to fight the UK’s biggest child killer: cancer. Statistically, every day at least 10 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer.

Each September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month highlights the impact of cancer on young people and their family. Awareness is key to improving the lives of these children, raising money for vital research into this tragic condition. Thanks to the efforts of charities like Children with Cancer, better drugs and treatments are developed and more children than ever are surviving childhood cancer.

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer. About 30 children in the UK develop osteosarcomas each year. These tumours occur more commonly in older children and teenagers. They are very rarely seen in children under five. Osteosarcoma often starts at the ends of the long bones, where new bone tissue forms as a young person grows. Any bone in the body can be affected but the most common sites are in the arms and legs, particularly around the knee and shoulder joints.

Signs and symptoms of an osteosarcoma

Pain in the affected bone is the most common symptom and may initially come and go before gradually becoming more severe and constant, especially at night. There may also be swelling around the affected bone.

How is an osteosarcoma diagnosed?

If parents are concerned about their child’s symptoms they should make an appointment with their GP, who will examine the child and may arrange tests or x-rays. If a bone tumour is suspected, it is likely that the GP will refer the child to a specialist hospital or bone tumour centre for further tests.

Different tests and investigations may be needed to diagnose an osteosarcoma. An x-ray of the painful part of the bone will usually identify a tumour, although sometimes they can be difficult to see. A small operation called a biopsy may be carried out, which is performed under a general anaesthetic. During this procedure, a small piece of the tumour will be removed and looked at under a microscope. Other tests include chest x-ray, blood tests, a bone scan and an MRI or CT scan. All of these can help determine if the cancer has spread.

Staging of osteosarcoma and why prompt diagnosis is important

A cancer’s ‘stage’ describes its size and whether it has spread. Knowing the particular type and stage of the cancer helps the doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment, which will vary depending on whether the cancer is found in one part of the body or whether it has spread. Prompt diagnosis before the cancer has spread is key.

A staging system commonly used for osteosarcomas is described below:

  • Stage 1A: The cancer is low-grade and is only found within the hard coating of the bone.
  • Stage 1B: The cancer is low-grade, extending outside the bone and into the soft tissue spaces that contain nerves and blood vessels.
  • Stage 2A: The cancer is high-grade and is completely contained within the hard coating of the bone.
  • Stage 2B: The cancer is high-grade and has spread outside the bone and into surrounding soft tissue spaces that contain nerves and blood vessels. Most osteosarcomas are stage 2B.
  • Stage 3: The cancer can be low or high-grade and is either found within the bone or extends outside the bone. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, or to other bones not directly connected to the bone where the tumour started.

Treatment for osteosarcoma

Once a diagnosis has been made and the staging of the cancer has been given, the doctors will consider what treatment can be given. This will depend on a number of factors including the timing of the diagnosis, the size, position and stage of the tumour.

  • Chemotherapy – anti-cancer drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is usually given to shrink the tumour before surgery. It’s also given after the tumour has been removed by surgery, to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
  • Radiotherapy – treats cancer by using high-energy rays to destroy the cancer cells.
  • Surgery – this will depend on the position and size of the tumour in the body.
  • Amputation – the whole or part of the affected bone is amputated, which is then replaced by some form of prosthesis. This may be necessary if there has been a long delay before the diagnosis of bone cancer. After amputation, the prosthesis will be regularly adjusted as the child grows and they can work very well. This may mean there are extra short stays in hospital, although some prostheses can be lengthened as an outpatient procedure. It should be possible for the child to join in with normal activities and even sports.
  • Limb-sparring surgery – if part of the limb can be saved then it will. There are two ways that limb-sparing surgery may be performed, either by replacing the bone with a prosthesis or replacing the affected bone with bone taken from another part of the body, known as a bone graft. After this type of surgery, children will usually be able to use their limbs almost normally. For more information about sport prostheses for children, have a look at our article here.

What can Boyes Turner do?

Our specialist clinical negligence team are committed to supporting individuals and their families who have been affected by negligent medical treatment for bone cancer and/or an amputation. We are experts in helping people who have suffered severe disability claim compensation, helping them secure high standard rehabilitation and prosthetic care, restore mobility and facilitate independence, which improves their quality of their life and that of those around them.

Meningococcal Septicaemia & Amputation

Having a child in hospital with meningitis, a life threatening illness is a frightening time for the whole family. From not knowing what the future holds, to finding out they will require amputations, the subsequent months can be an emotional rollercoaster. Support at times like this is vital. Charities like Meningitis Now and the Meningitis Research Foundation offer a great deal of information and support for families going through this disease.

Why might amputation be necessary after meningococcal septicaemia?

Amputation may be necessary in severe cases of meningococcal septicaemia.  Septicaemia is blood poisoning caused by bacteria multiplying in the blood. The body tries to fight the bacteria and the toxins released by it. The toxins attack the lining of blood vessels which can leak causing a rash, shown as purple areas of skin. Blood clots also form making it difficult for blood to carry oxygen to the body. When skin loses blood supply, it is starved of oxygen and it might blacken and eventually die. This predominantly affects the fingers, hands, toes and feet requiring amputation otherwise the dead tissue can become harmful to the body.

What treatment will my child get?

The priority in treating children with septicaemia is antibiotics. Time is of the essence. The longer the child is without antibiotics, the more the blood poisoning can spread resulting in further damage to the body. Once your child is medically stable, part of the treatment might be an attempt to treat the damaged tissue for it to heal. Areas of dead tissue might be cut away (debridement) or amputation might be required.

Medical treatment is not always provided in a timely manner. If a meningitis diagnosis is missed or treatment is delayed, the avoidable consequences can be catastrophic. As meningitis claims specialists we investigate concerns about meningitis medical care and whether injuries such as amputation could have been avoided.

If you would like to discuss any concerns about the medical care you or a loved one have received relating to meningitis, contact our specialist meningitis claims team for free and confidential advice on 0800 307 7620 or email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com

What happens after the amputation?

During the hospital stay, rehabilitation will be key to help mobilisation and independence. There will be a range of medical professionals looking after your child, which might include:

  • Plastic surgeon
  • Orthopaedic surgeon
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Pain specialist
  • Psychologist

Many of these professionals will continue to be involved in caring for your child after discharge from hospital.

Will my child be given prosthetic limb/s?

Many amputees use prosthetic limbs to help with daily living and mobility. Your child will be assessed to see if prosthetic limbs are suitable. This will depend on the amputation level, the recovery and whether there are any other amputations or disabilities. It will also depend on any skin scarring from the septicaemia.

Prosthetic limbs can help amputees rebuild their lives and get back to day to day activities. It takes time however for any amputee to learn to use their new limbs and there will need to be follow up assessments with the prosthetist. Prosthetic limbs will need to be replaced as your child grows.

When will my child be able to return to school?

It is important for children to return to school as soon as they are well enough and if it is safe for them to do so. The school will need to take into account your child’s amputation and accessibility needs. The school might need to help with arranging a learning support assistance, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, getting from class to class or taking notes if the child is not able to hold a pen.

Why is a prompt diagnosis of meningitis so key?

With meningitis affecting the lives of a million people worldwide, there has never been a more urgent need to raise awareness of the risks associated with this disabling and life threatening condition. Awareness of the condition is a key step towards reducing its impact.

The difficulty lies in the speed with which the condition takes hold, progressing from symptoms which might ordinarily be associated with a cold or flu to a disabling and life-threatening condition within a matter of hours. In its early stages, when antibiotic treatment is most effective, without the necessary awareness and proper diagnostic tests the symptoms can be deceptive. Any delay in starting treatment gives an already fast-acting disease greater opportunity to take hold. Its impact can be devastating.

Boyes Turner’s experienced medical negligence solicitors have acted for many clients who have been severely disabled as a result of negligent delays in medical treatment of meningitis by their GP or hospital staff.

In a recent case, we secured judgment for a baby boy whose signs of meningitis – including a persistent high temperature, vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions and a rash – were missed by hospital staff leading to a delay in his antibiotic treatment. He now suffers from hearing loss, learning difficulties and problems with language and communication as a result of the delay in treating his meningitis.

In another recent case we acted for a young girl whose signs of group B streptococcal meningitis –  including a persistent high temperature which didn’t respond to paracetamol and refusal to feed – were misinterpreted by hospital doctors when she was a baby. The delay in antibiotic treatment led to permanent damage to her brain. She now suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Know the risks

Meningitis can affect anyone at any time but certain people are at greater risk:

  • Babies and toddlers under the age of 5 have the highest risk of meningitis because their immune systems are not yet sufficiently developed to protect them against the disease
  • Teenagers and students are also at higher risk. They are particularly vulnerable when going off to university where they are in close contact with people from different backgrounds, living away from home and looking after themselves for the first time. Without their parents’ supervision, they may confuse meningitis symptoms with flu, hangover or tiredness
  • Adults over 55 or those with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk

Know the symptoms and ensure that your loved ones do too

  • Have a look at our recent infographic outlining the symptoms – available on our website here.

If you suspect that you or a member of your family have the symptoms of meningitis, don’t delay. Seek urgent medical help. It’s time to act!

Meningitis Symptoms

As part of our Meningitis Awareness week 2017 articles we have put together a list of symptoms to help you spot the illness before it gets worse.

Meningitis doesn’t just present as a rash, click on our symptom checker below and find out more about how to spot the potentially life changing illness.

Other symptoms include…

  • Muscle aches which are severe in nature
  • Extreme temperature or fever with cold hands and feet
  • Neck stiffness
  • Intense nausea and vomiting
  • Coordination, movement and balance problems
  • Seizures/convulsions and fits

Be aware of the glass test

This test allows you to see if there is a possibility that a rash or pin prick spots are a sign of meningococcal septicaemia (the bacteria that can cause both meningitis and septicaemia).

  • Press a clear glass firmly against the affected area of skin
  • The rash or spots may fade at first but unlike a normal rash it does not disappear (or fade altogether)
  • Keep checking the affected area

However… do not wait for a rash. If you or someone you are with is ill, get medical help!

Meningitis Research Foundation – get involved!

We hope that as many people as possible will take this opportunity to get involved and help make a difference. You can visit the Meningitis Research Foundation’s website here for more information about the fun things you can do to take part. These include having a bake sale, holding a quiz night or holding a dress in purple day with funky accessories to raise money and awareness!

Whatever you do, don’t forget to share your photos on social media to spread the word using the hashtag #MeningitisAware.

Meningitis Research Foundation Awareness Week 18 - 24 September 2017



18 – 24 September 2017 is Meningitis Research Foundation’s Awareness Week, during which the charity ask us all to promote awareness of this life-threatening medical condition.

The aim is to use this opportunity to ensure that people are aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis, so that they can act fast and save lives. It’s also a great chance to get involved in fundraising to help the Meningitis Research Foundation defeat meningitis and septicaemia.

To help promote awareness, the Boyes Turner medical negligence team will be publishing an informative article every day this week. We will be looking at the symptoms to watch out for, discussing the importance of the vaccine, as well as telling the personal stories of some of the individuals whom we have helped.

Meningitis is a devastating disease which can have tragic consequences. Forewarned is forearmed and our aim is raise awareness of the symptoms and emergency action which can help secure timely treatment which is the key to reducing disability and saving lives.

Meningitis Research Foundation – get involved!

We hope that as many people as possible will take this opportunity to get involved and help make a difference. You can visit the Meningitis Research Foundation’s website here for more information about the fun things you can do to take part. These include having a bake sale, holding a quiz night or holding a  dress in purple day with funky accessories to raise money and awareness!

Whatever you do, don’t forget to share your photos on social media to spread the word using the hashtag #MeningitisAware.

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