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Medical blunders lead to big payouts for young victims

26th November 2009
By Ruth Jacob in Legal
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A young boy from Plymouth who suffered a disability in his right arm because of a "medical blunder" during his birth, has won over £270,000 in compensation at London's High Court.

The boy who is 11-years-old now, suffered 'shoulder dystocia' - a complication which causes nerve damage - when he was delivered at Derriford Hospital on April 11th, 1998.

His shoulder became stuck, and it was alleged that medical staff did not employ standard manoeuvres to overcome the problem.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Derriford, yesterday admitted medical negligence and agreed to pay the boy and his family damages.

Approving the settlement, the judge, Mr Justice Wyn Williams, heard that the boy did his best to ignore his disability and pursued a number of different activities. Due to the negligence that took place, he has Erb's Palsy, which has led to a loss of function in his right shoulder, arm and hand.

The young boy's family is understood to be delighted at the outcome of the case, as they were awarded with £270,795 and said they would now concentrate on giving their son the best possible chance in life.

Restrictions to arm movement

Christopher Kemp the lawyer who was fighting for the boy, said that he had undergone three operations on his arm, and although he had made a good recovery each time, he still had restricted use of his arm and significant scarring as a result.

Mr Kemp said: "He is able to do most things for himself but he will be disadvantaged on the labour market and his choices of career will be limited."

Mr Justice Wyn Williams said that it was 'with some degree of satisfaction' that he could publicly praise the boy's family for the 'selfless devotion' that they had shown to him.

The money will be invested in court until the boy is 18 years old and will be devoted to giving him the care and assistance he needs for the rest of his life.

The payout includes approximately £60,000 for his 'pain, suffering and loss of amenity'.

A spokesperson for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said: "The High Court in London has approved a settlement in this clinical negligence claim.

"We have apologised to the boy's family that the care they and he received fell below the standard they were entitled to expect.

"We were extremely disappointed by this and apologise for it as we strive to provide the highest possible standard of care to all of our patients.

"A settlement has now been agreed between the parties and approved by the court, to assist Grant in the future. We would like to wish the boy and his family well for the future."

Girl left blind by medical misdiagnosis

In a similar incident, a case of medical negligence left a schoolgirl blind because of a medical blunder at King George Hospital, she has since won £1.5 million in compensation at London's High Court.

Her barrister, James Badenoch QC, said that the girl was taken to the hospital in Goodmayes, where an X-ray of her brain was taken.

He stated that the X-ray showed signs of the benign brain tumour. He said it was a 'striking, serious and unexpected finding' and 'highly suspicious' - but a radiologist didn't spot it.

As a result, a brain tumour grew and four months later, the little girl had to undergo emergency surgery at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, where 80 per cent of it was removed.

The rest was destroyed by radiotherapy, said Mr Badenoch, but the girl's eyesight could not be saved. Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, which runs King George Hospital, went on to admit liability for the incident.

He told the court: "It is sad, but true, to say that, if the X-ray which showed such obvious signs in October 1999 had been picked up on, the outcome would have been totally different."

Mr Jackson, a spokesperson for the trust said: "The trust is truly sorry for the mistake that was made and the disastrous consequences which followed. We are impressed by the determination that the girl has shown to make the best of her life."

The girl has won a place at a school run by the Royal National Institute for the Blind in Worcester, and is expected to take her A-levels and go to university.

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