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Medical Negligence Victory Despite Hospital Denying They Had Already Admitted Fault

Richard Barr, a clinical negligence lawyer at Scott-Moncrieff, says that perseverance – even against a stubborn hospital – can pay off and earn much-needed compensation.

“Sometimes,” says Richard, “you should not take ‘no’ for an answer. This was certainly true for my client Mabel in her fight for justice against a hospital.”

Mabel’s husband David had a mild heart attack and was taken to a local hospital’s cardiac care unit, where she felt he was in safe hands.

The hospital discovered that David had a serious heart condition and he was listed for a bypass operation. However, while waiting for surgery, David had two cardiac arrests in one day but on both occasions he was successfully resuscitated.

Hospital staff wanted to make sure that if he had a further cardiac arrest there would be an immediate alert, so a telemetry device was fitted to notify staff if David had another incident as he moved around the ward.

A few days later, for no apparent reason, the staff removed the telemetry device and David was left unmonitored. The following day he was found lifeless in his hospital bed.

David was pronounced dead. Mabel was devastated and asked Richard Barr to investigate her case. Initially the hospital admitted that it was negligent. Then, rather than agreeing to compensate Mabel, the hospital went back on its word, denying it was at fault in any way. It was only under pressure of court proceedings that the hospital belatedly agreed to pay compensation to Mabel.

Hospitals do great work but mistakes can happen

Obviously, most hospitals do wonderful work for their patients, but every now and then something goes badly wrong. The disappointing thing about Mabel ' s case is that the hospital considerably added to her distress by changing its mind and denying liability. 

Mabel was forced to start court proceedings to achieve justice. The hospital could have avoided both the stress and the expense had it stuck to its original admission of negligence and simply paid the compensation Mabel was due because of that negligence.

Richard concludes: “The NHS complains about solicitors' costs, but by forcing Mabel to go through the process of starting court proceedings, the costs in the case (which the NHS had to pay) were far greater than if they had agreed to settle the case in the first place.”

* Names have been changed for reasons of anonymity

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