Doctor Awarded Substantial Damages in Medical Negligence Compensation

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A Medical Negligence Claim Case Study - Client Situation

Dr Caroline Clark, 54, had an operation at Peterborough City Hospital to remove a cancerous tumour on her neck. Less than 24 hours later, she was sent home, despite blood tests showing that her calcium levels were low, and both her own doctor and a junior doctor advising that she stay in hospital.

The following morning, Dr Clark began suffering potentially life-threatening seizures, and as she was herself a trained medical professional, immediately knew that she was suffering from hypocalcaemia - dangerously low calcium levels in the blood.

She called an ambulance, but this took more than 20 minutes to arrive, and a lack of training meant the ambulance staff couldn’t administer the drugs that she urgently needed. Dr Clark advised the ambulance crew to call ahead to Kettering Hospital so they would be ready to treat her, but upon arriving, it became apparent that doctors hadn’t been briefed on her situation, while inexperienced staff wasted time deciding what to do.

Fortunately, a colleague of Dr Clark’s came by and ordered her to be sent to the resuscitation unit for emergency treatment, which included calcium and magnesium injections. Without it, she might have gone into a fatal cardiac arrest.

While recovering in hospital, Dr Clark felt she was about to have another hypocalcaemic episode, and had to ask doctors to top up her calcium levels herself. Dr Clark’s secretary then asked a consultant physician to intervene to ensure she was given a calcium drip. To compound these problems, she couldn’t be treated on a specialist ward due to a lack of available beds, and therefore had to spend four days in an observation cubicle in casualty.

Dr Clark now suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suffers flashbacks of her near-death experience, particularly when in a medical environment. As a result, she was forced to take early retirement.

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How We Helped

Dr Clark contacted our Medical Negligence Lawyers to make a medical negligence claim, and the NHS Trust quickly admitted liability. However, Medical Negligence Lawyer David Thomas, assisted by paralegal Chantelle Cooper, had to negotiate long and hard to secure a compensation settlement that accurately reflected Dr Clark’s loss of earnings.

This was due to a perception from the defendant’s side that psychological injury from trauma were less worthy of compensation than physical injuries, and somehow the fault of the victim.

Lawyer David Thomas argued that a mental illness can have an equally devastating impact on a person’s life, with the only difference being that the scars can’t be seen. David also pointed out that if she had received the appropriate treatment, Dr Clark would still be working as a successful NHS consultant today, whereas her condition forced her to retire ten years earlier than she planned.

The Outcome

Lawyer David Thomas settled Dr Clark’s case with the NHS Trust for a substantial amount of compensation (not disclosed) as the serious failings she encountered nearly cost our client her life. Had she not been a Doctor herself and therefore able to self-diagnose her treatment, it’s entirely likely that she would not have survived.

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