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Deborah Tilsley v Derbyshire Community Health Services - Andrea Ribchester-Hodgson & Sarah Wright, Spencers Solicitors

03/10/18. Incident date: 30 January 2014. Settlement date: 17 January 2018. Gross settlement: £30,000.00.

The Claim

The claim against the Defendant Trust was brought by the Executor of the Estate of the deceased following an assault upon the deceased by another patient when he was a patient in the Defendant hospital, compounded by the subsequent failure of medical staff to assess his injuries sustained in the assault, leading to a delayed diagnosis of a fracture of the neck of the femur and thereafter delay in treating the same.

Following the eventual diagnosis of the fracture, the deceased was transferred to another hospital where he underwent a hip replacement, however developed bronchopneumonia and died several weeks later.

In addition to the failures initially encountered, the deceased’s family detailed failings by staff in reporting of the details of the incident and injuries to the hospital where he was transferred.

Instructions were received when the initial Inquest into the death was adjourned by the Coroner to enable the deceased’s family to obtain legal representation, allow further enquiries to be made and for a PIR to take place.

Whilst instructions to represent the family were confirmed in October 2015 and initial enquiries were made and work undertaken, the Inquest was not relisted until February 2017 leading to delays in the claim. The third anniversary of the deceased’s death was rapidly approaching and protective proceedings were issued.

At the Inquest, the Coroner made a finding that the deceased’s cause of death was due to bronchopneumonia, contributed to by multiple co-morbidities, predominantly noted to be a fractured femur and trauma.

Liability

The Coroner was unimpressed by witness evidence given on behalf of those charged with the medical care of the deceased and found that the fracture resulted from the assault. He determined that had the assailant (a fellow patient of the deceased) not had access to the deceased’s room, or had his levels of observation been sufficient then on balance the assault would not have taken place and the resulting fracture and bronchopneumonia would not have occurred and the deceased would not have died when he did. The Coroner found as a consequence that the deceased’s death was contributed to by neglect.

Quantum

The financial value of the claim was limited by the fact of the deceased’s age and other pre-existing medical conditions. At the inquest Counsel for the Defendant Trust had attempted to establish that the bronchopneumonia suffered by the deceased was due to other factors, without success.

Following the Inquest a medical report was obtained from an Orthopaedic surgeon and court proceedings were served and then stayed to allow the Defendant to consider its position. No Defence was filed as a consequence and no admissions were made by the Defendant.

An initial Part 36 offer of £25,000.00 was received from the Defendant with a counter-offer being made in the sum of £32,000.00.

The claim was settled in January 2018 by way of acceptance of the Defendant’s increased Part 36 offer in the sum of £30,000.00.

Solicitor for the Claimant: Andrea Ribchester-Hodgson of Spencers Solicitors

Solicitor for the Defendant: Raj Ubhi of Browne Jacobson

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