A worryingly high number of people who have suffered from severe harm due to the acts or omissions of health care professionals would have avoided all injury, had one simple step been taken.
For Mrs Heather Tait this simple step came in the form of an MRI scan. Had it been performed, as Gloucester Hospitals NHS Trust have admitted, the scan would have prevented her from suffering from the serious injuries which now impair her day to day life, including double incontinence, a loss of sexual sensation and psychiatric damage.
When Mrs Tait attended Cheltenham General Hospital in June 2009 complaining of severe back pain, she was sent home without an MRI scan. By the following day Mrs Tait’s condition had worsened and was diagnosed as suffering from a prolapsed disc upon her return to the hospital.
Despite undergoing emergency surgery to rectify the problem, Mrs Tait was left with avoidable, life altering injuries.
In all Clinical Negligence cases, liability (fault for the injuries sustained) and quantum (the financial value of the claim) can be dealt with separately and it is not uncommon for liability to be admitted by a Defendant but quantum disputed. This was the case for Mrs Tait and sitting in London’s High Court, all that remained for Judge McKenna to do was determine the level of award to be given.
Many people see the significant awards awarded in clinical negligence claims and struggle to understand their justification. It may appear at first that the damages of £2.4 million awarded to Mrs Tait are excessive but it’s important to remember that the aim of the law in this area is to put the injured person back into the position that they were in prior to the negligence occurring.
The symptoms suffered by Mrs Tait are serious enough to significantly interfere with her life on a daily basis for the rest of her days and the damages awarded reflect this. A large proportion of the £2.4 million awarded to Mrs Tait is likely to be made up of past and future care and loss of earnings. Noted by Judge McKenna to be a “capable, driven and ambitious woman with proven business skills” it is likely that Mrs Tait’s earnings would have been considerable had it not been for the hospital’s negligence.
Mrs Tait’s case is sadly one of many where the injuries sustained could have been avoided entirely. Whilst the considerable damages awarded will significantly improve her life, the knowledge that such an award would not have been necessary had one simple step been taken makes for a bitter sweet outcome.
Gill Edwards is a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.
Slater and Gordon have more than 1,450 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Derby, Merseyside, Cardiff, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.