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Sickle Cell Disorder and the Dangers of GP Negligence

The appalling box ticking bureaucracy of some NHS staff is in the spotlight once again. The tragic and shocking story of London student, Sarah Mulega, 21, highlights the vulnerability of sickle cell patients in crisis. Sarah died after ambulance paramedics apparently refused to take her to hospital because she couldn't get up and because she had soiled herself.

The case reminded me of a claim I concluded in 2009.  Former postman Raymond Stanley was also born with Sickle Cell Disorder resulting in the removal of his spleen and an increased vulnerability to infection, a condition that the Department of Health recommends is managed by an inoculation to prevent pneumococcal infections.

However, Mr Stanley never received the necessary vaccination from his GPs and in 2004 contracted a severe pneumococcal infection. This led to a heart attack and septicaemia, leaving him blind, with kidney damage that requires dialysis. Over the eight year period from 1996 to 2004, five different doctors failed to manage Mr Stanley’s condition with provision of the appropriate vaccine, with one GP also failing to deal with a haematology referral which would have identified the need for the inoculation. Raymond instructed me to pursue a claim against the GP practice and his claim succeeded.

Raymond nearly died but his life was saved by the heroic efforts of A and E staff at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. It is a great shame that Sarah Mulega never had such a chance of survival.James Bell is a Partner in the Russell Jones & Walker clinical negligence team. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.

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