Three Epic Cases of Clinical Negligence

All of us enjoy the benefits of living in a medically and technologically advanced society.  Indeed, we are but a small portion of a global population that not only lacks sufficient and adequate medical care, but also in such basic needs as sanitation, potable drinking water and qualified medical doctors.  In all of the countries in the world, the United Kingdom has been lauded as having one of the best and most advanced health care policies.  Nonetheless, there have been times where blatant and even intentional negligence have occurred causing the victim profound physical and psychological harm.  Although some of these stories may be difficult to read, it is important to understand that even in the 21st century modern medicine still has its downfalls.  Let us examine three of the most tragic examples where patients have become victims.

Our first story revolves around a boy named Harry.  He was diagnosed as a healthy child and his parents were eagerly anticipating his birth.  When the mother was admitted to hospital, things seemed as normal.  Unfortunately, the medical staff on call failed to properly monitor the mother´s vital signs during labour.  For this reason, his brain and heart had become deprived of oxygen upon birth and he required resuscitation.  Although he initially survived, after a number of months his parents began to think something may have been wrong with what should have been an otherwise normal developmental period.  Upon examination he was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy; a condition which would remain with him for the remainder of his life.  Before taking the case to court, the hospital assumed full responsibility for the negligence and a settlement was reached out of court.  Harry now has the full-time care necessary for the rest of his life.

Vicki was a young, athletic girl who in 1992 was diagnosed with a malignant and potentially deadly bone tumour in her leg.  As these tumours can easily spread into the marrow and can often times be fatal, Vicki underwent intensive therapy involving both chemotherapy and the removal of most of her patella (knee).  The lack of bone was thereafter replaced with a titanium plate.  This implant caused severe pain and the young girl had a great deal of difficulty walking and performing other movements.  After Vicki returned to the doctor for an examination, it was discovered that she had been misdiagnosed and the purported bone tumour had never existed.  The tragedy is that due to constant pain and restricted range of motion, Vicki eventually elected to have her leg amputated above the knee to live pain-free.  Her case was eventually settled and the money enabled her to not only receive the necessary treatment but to also receive an artificial limb.  On-going therapy costs for life were subsequently covered.

Although these two cases are harrowing in their own right, this final situation makes the previous pale in comparison.  This final example is that of Dr. Harold Shipman, famously dubbed the “Angel of Death”.  Spanning a period of no less than 23 years, the doctor is reported to have killed a minimum of 215 patients with some estimates placing the number well over 400.  Many of his victims were apparently terminally ill cancer patients and the elderly.  There has been no official explanation for why this man committed such heinous crimes other than that he simply was fascinated with the process of death.  Of much concern here is that not only should have there been measures in place to prevent such actions but the fact that these actions carried on for years with little suspicion.  Although tried and convicted to fifteen life sentences, Dr. Shipman maintained his innocence until the end.  He took his own life in 2004.

These examples represent the worst of the worst when we refer to a clinical negligence claim and only serve to highlight that regardless of how advanced a health care system may appear, instances will inevitably occur which will require trained professionals to represent the victims of such unfortunate acts.

Clinical Negligece Claim

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/6276487543/

John Corwin is a freelance medical writer covering medical news, such as new drug releases, and cases of exceptional treatment be they good or bad.

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