ER v Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust
Jonathan Austen-Jones represented the Claimant (“ER”), a 53 years old man who was taken by ambulance to the Royal Sussex County Hospital on 4 March 2017 after suffering with abdominal pain over the previous two days.
ER was seen and assessed in the A&E Department and underwent some basic investigations, including blood tests and X-rays and was diagnosed as suffering with constipation. He was given painkillers then discharged home with laxatives and advised to return to hospital should his symptoms worsen.
ER returned to hospital on 7 March 2017 as his abdominal pain had worsened. Examination indicated the clinical features of appendicitis and this was finally confirmed by CT scan. The following day he underwent keyhole surgery to remove his appendix, which had perforated during the time which had elapsed since his first admission to A&E on 4 March. During the surgery it was found that a large abscess and multiple adhesions (scar-like tissue) had formed, resulting in 20 day recovery period in hospital, far longer than he would have otherwise have needed.
ER was only able to return to work some 20 weeks after the missed diagnosis of appendicitis and, being self-employed, had suffered sizeable loss of earnings during that time.
After obtaining and considering ER’s hospital records, Jonathan sought expert opinions from an independent Consultant Surgeon and a Consultant in Emergency Medicine. They agreed that diagnosis of appendicitis could and should have been made on ER’s first admission to A&E on 4 March. In addition, as a result of the delay in diagnosis and treatment, ER is now at higher risk of adhesion-related complications, such as a sub‑acute bowel obstruction and, if he requires abdominal surgery in the future, the risks would probably be higher.
After concluding his initial investigations and considering all the available evidence, Jonathan presented the facts of ER’s claim to NHS Resolution, the organisation representing the hospital. Following their own internal evaluation, NHS Resolution confirmed that liability was admitted in full, agreeing that ER should have been referred to the hospital’s on-call surgical team for further assessment on his first admission to A&E.
NHS Resolution, on behalf of the hospital, made an early offer to settle in view of their admission of liability, but Jonathan advised ER that the offer was insufficient to compensate him adequately for his pain and suffering, loss of earnings and the care and assistance given to him by a family member during his recuperation. After further negotiation Jonathan was successful in obtaining a five figure sum from the hospital for ER, concluding his claim and enabling ER to regain some financial stability following an extended period of being unable to earn a living.
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