NHS Highland has put temporary new arrangements in place pending a review following the tragic death of a new-born baby at Caithness General Hospital in Wick.
The Health Board has said that had different arrangements been in place to ensure there was more timely access to advanced paediatric support, the death was “potentially avoidable.”
The baby’s death is suspected to have been caused by a severe infection. Caithness General Hospital has no neonatal intensive care unit facility. Expectant mothers and new-borns are now being transferred more than 100 miles away to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness which has a special care baby unit.
Raigmore Hospital itself however, is also currently under review by the Health Board after a man, known only as ‘Mr C’ was left with two holes in his bowels following a surgical procedure that he did not consent to.
Mr C underwent surgery at the hospital to treat haemorrhoids which he understood to be an investigatory procedure only. In fact, Mr C also underwent an operation which identified polyps on the inner lining of his bowel that were then removed as part of the procedure.
Mr C returned to hospital two days later in considerable pain requiring an emergency operation. He was told that if the procedure was unsuccessful, he would require more surgery as well as a temporary colostomy bag.
Mr C reports that he was not told that polyps may be removed if identified during the operation and that had he known of the possibility of bowel damage, he may not have gone ahead with the procedure.
A complaint was made to the Health Service Ombudsman which found that the consent process in Mr C’s case was inadequate. NHS Highland has apologised and said that it is now reviewing its consent forms and the information that is being provided to patients when consent is obtained.
The issue in Mr C’s case is about consent. It is important that clinicians explain the risks of the procedure or treatment to the patient to allow them to make a fully informed decision when considering their options; the patient must know exactly what they are consenting to.
Failure to obtain informed consent for a procedure or treatment which later causes the patient injury, may give rise to a clinical negligence claim if that patient would have refused such treatment had they have been adequately advised of the risks involved.
Claire Horton is a Senior Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
If you or a member of your family suffered from negligent treatment in hospital, call our Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9049 or start your claim online and we will call you.