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        Medical Negligence Posts

        Delayed diagnosis and the role of the ‘Litigation Friend’

        It is a sad fact of life that accidents happen. This is especially true when we are children running and playing with our friends in the playground. However, when injuries go beyond scraped knees and bruised egos, we rely on health professionals to manage those injuries professionally and effectively.

        Informed Consent: A dentist’s duty to refer

        The decisions that judges make are heavily influenced by society’s current values. Judgements handed out 100, 50 or even 20 years ago may have been decided very differently today as our attitudes to crime and responsibility have invariably changed.

        No more so is this true then in relation to doctors and the duty they owe patients. Whereas 50 years ago the doctor alone would decide how treatment would be undertaken, almost oblivious of patient concerns, society nowadays requires patient involvement in the every step of the treatment; patients need to be informed of all risks and alternative treatment options.

        Rhinoplasty: Complications & Negligence

        Rhinoplasty, more commonly referred to as the ‘nose job’ or ‘nose reshaping’, is a surgical procedure carried out to change the appearance of the nose. There are numerous types of rhinoplasty procedures that could potentially be carried out. The choice of procedure will ultimately depend on what the patient wants, whether this is augmenting, reducing or giving greater definition to the nose.

        Case Study: Mrs K

        Mrs K had been pushing a shopping trolley when she tripped and fell heavily on her wrists. She attended A&E where she was advised that both of her wrists had been broken. This initial treatment was found to be non-negligent. Our client received an x-ray confirming the fracture, had both wrists manipulated and put in temporary casts. She was also given medication to deal with the significant pain she was suffering.

        Case Study: Rhinoplasty Negligence

        Mrs J decided that she wanted a nose job back in 2010. After much research she went to a private hospital for a consultation and was assigned to a cosmetic surgeon who held practicing privileges at the hospital. This means that the surgeon was not employed directly by the hospital and instead worked on an independent, self-employed basis.

        Gum Disease and Negligence

        Gum disease is a periodontal condition caused by the buildup of plaque around the teeth. It is a relatively common condition that originally manifests as inflammation of the gums or ‘gingervitis’. The inflammation is caused by plaque, a thin film of bacteria, which begins to produce toxins that irritate the teeth and gums.

        When caught early, gum disease is relatively simple to treat. Reasonable dental care will see the removal of plaque and a return to healthy teeth and gums. However, if left untreated, the gingervitis can morph into full blow periodontitis, which will cause shrinkage of the gums, infection of the bone, loosening and eventual loss of the teeth.

        Adequate dental care is critical for the prevention of gum disease and is a joint effort between a patient and their dentist. A patient must regularly brush their teeth, floss and go to checkups. A dentist is their to monitor teeth. If there are any signs of gum disease, such as bleeding or inflammation, a reasonable dentist should be able to diagnose gum disease and put in place an appropriate dental plan. This may include;

        Carrying out X-rays
        Probing for inflammation and bleeding
        Making adequate notes
        Reviews every 12-18 months
        Advice on home care
        Referral to a specialist for more progressed cases

        Failure to treat gum disease early is a clear breach of a dentist’s duty. There are often enough warning signs to indicate to a reasonably qualified dentist that gum disease is present. Failure to diagnose or treat the warning signs, especially if left over a number of years, can cause significant losses for patients in terms of pain, suffering and the cost of corrective treatment.

        At the Specter Partnership Solicitors, we have seen an increasing number of claims against dentists who have failed to treat gum disease.

        For more information on the gum disease, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/Gum-disease

        If you would like more information or to arrange a free, confidential consultation, please call us on 0207 251 9900, or email enquiries@specterpartnership.co.uk.

        Doctors’ Continuous Wrong Predictions on Terminally Ill Patients

        There have been several reports in recent weeks stating that doctors “routinely get it wrong” when predicting how long terminally ill patients have left to live.

        Case Study: Miss J's Cosmetic Surgery Claim

        After much thought, Ms T took the decision to undergo a breast augmentation surgery. She made every effort to extensively research the procedure which she eventually underwent in May 2012. In the aftermath of the surgery, Ms T did not have any meeting with her surgeon and was discharged that next morning with pain relief and a follow up appointment arranged the following week.

        At that appointment the dressing was removed; it was immediately clear to Miss T that there was a significant asymmetry between the breasts. She also noticed that she had an angry abrasion below her right breast. Over the next few days this started to discharge a yellow puss, indicating the breast was infected, causing Miss T serious alarm. She attended her GP, who told her it appeared that she had suffered a serious burn and prescribed antibiotics for the infection.
        Unhappy with both the scarring and the irregularity, Ms T arranged her first post-operative meeting with her surgeon a full month and a half after the surgery. Initially, the surgeon tried to suggest that the scarring was due to the removal of the towels post operatively which were secured by surgical glue. However, he eventually went back on this hypothesis when it was pointed out by Miss T that the abrasion was more similar to a burn. The surgeon admitted that it was most likely a diathermy burn and that he was entirely responsible for the error.

        The Specter Partnership instructed medical experts that confirmed not only did the treatment provided fall below an acceptable standard but that the surgeon had failed to fully inform the patient of the inherent risks of both scarring and asymmetry. Consent remains a contentious issue in medical negligence, but it is still part of a doctor’s duty to fully inform patients of the potential risks of a surgery and all other treatment options. This is especially true following the landmark ruling in Montgomery v Lanarkshire HA where it was determined by the Supreme Court that doctors must inform a patient of all risks that the particular individual is likely to see as important.

        It was clear that these failures caused significant psychological harm to Ms T, who remains self-conscious about the scarring. She also had to miss several months of work due to pain and embarrassment. Following these supportive reports, a 5 figure settlement offer was made and accepted by the client.

        Misdiagnosis - Cancer

        The incidences of diagnostic error in medicine are as high as one in six patients who have been treated by their GP’s.

        Private Ambulance Negligence

        Medical negligence can come in many forms and although the majority of medical professionals will strive to avoid it it can and does still happen, including in the care of private ambulance services.

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