£37k after hospital failure causes psychological struggles

16 May 2022

Higgs LLP has successfully secured almost £40,000 for a woman who was prematurely discharged from hospital, resulting in long-term psychological problems, including extreme anxiety about giving birth.

Jenny Tetlow, Senior Associate in our NHS negligence Team, worked tirelessly to settle for £37,000 on behalf of the client.

Higgs’ client was first admitted to hospital with abdominal cramps and distention. A blood test taken on admission showed a C-Reactive Protein (CRP) level of 21. The test is used to measure inflammation in the body.

Further blood tests were taken in the following days, but as CT and ultrasound scans showed no abnormalities, Higgs’ client was discharged home before the updated blood test results were received, despite her ongoing lower abdominal pain.

When the blood tests were received, they showed a CRP level of 81, representing a significant increase from when the client was first admitted. However, no attempt was made by the defendant to contact her.

Jenny said: “Subsequently, our client’s condition deteriorated at home before she re-presented to A&E with ongoing abdominal pain and vomiting and was found to have a CRP level of 531 and a temperature of 40.7 degrees.

“Blood and urine samples revealed urosepsis and a subsequent CT scan then raised suspicion of acute cholecystitis - inflammation of the gallbladder - and our client subsequently underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

“Our client was required to return to hospital every evening for five weeks to be given IV antibiotics overnight. She was readmitted to hospital with symptoms of fever and sickness over a month later, with her CRP levels again rising.

“Consequently, a few days later she had a PICC line inserted for long-term intravenous antibiotics, returning to hospital daily for another month so the required antibiotics could be administered.”

Expert reports obtained by Higgs on behalf of the client concluded that the defendant had breached their duty to submit a urine sample prior to the client’s discharge from hospital and to either not discharge her before her blood tests results were received, or to recall her once they had been reviewed.

The defendant admitted liability and conceded that had they not breached their duty of care, a UTI would have been diagnosed and appropriate antibiotics could have been prescribed.

Jenny added: “Consequently, our client would not have been readmitted to ICU, would not have contracted sepsis, would not have undergone the subsequent Cholecystectomy and would not have needed the extensive period of IV antibiotic therapy.”

The issue of the amount of damages due to the woman was very complex.

In addition to all of the physical issues the woman suffered, she also endured psychological problems and an expert report was obtained to recommend suitable treatment.

Jenny said: “The psychological expert concluded that as a result of the defendant’s negligence our client had developed a phobia of clinical environments.

“This phobia resulted in her suffering panic attacks, hyperventilation and, on occasion, losing consciousness. This caused our client to suffer severe anxiety when giving birth and had greatly reduced her self-esteem.

“The expert also concluded that without specific treatment, our client’s phobia would likely continue indefinitely.”

Consequently, it was imperative that provisions for a home birth for future pregnancies were considered, as well as the cost of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to address the client’s phobia.

A Part 36 offer was made by the defendant to settle for £29,500.

Whilst the client confirmed that she wished to bring the matter to a swift conclusion and to avoid issuing proceedings at Court, Higgs felt this offer did not provide sufficient compensation to its client for the injuries she had suffered, especially in view of the serious psychological impact the defendant’s negligence had caused.

Therefore, this was rejected, and a further Part 36 offer was received from the defendant for £37,000. This was accepted by Higgs on behalf of its client, representing a significant increase from the defendant’s original offer whilst avoiding issuing proceedings or elongating the matter. 

Jenny concluded: “This was a complex case which required experience and strong negotiation.

“We are delighted with the result, which allows our client to move on with her life.”

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