In the News

Joanna Lloyd looks at our regular round-up of cases.

02/07/2010

Joanna Lloyd

Joanna Lloyd

Partner

Medical Records Provide Good Insight

Buxton v Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board

A Local Health Board has successfully defended a claim arising from allegedly negligent ophthalmology treatment.   

The Claimant was prescribed steroids for an eye infection which aggravated a pre-existing ulceration, leaving the Claimant with impaired vision.  The Claimant alleged that steroids should not have been given until the ulceration had completely cleared.  The Defendant’s case was that when patients have co-existing problems, a clinician must balance the benefits and risks of treating each condition.  The Court accepted this and the Defendant succeeded on both breach of duty and causation.  The Judge ruled that not only was the prescription of steroids not negligent, but that the Claimant had not proved that the cause of the additional ulceration was the steroids. 

This case is of particular interest for Defendants as the treating clinician was not available to give evidence.  The defence succeeded on the strength of the medical records and the expert evidence alone.  Yet another case which demonstrates the importance of good quality, thorough medical records.

Traditional Pension Age?  “Elementary My Dear Watson”

Watson v Ministry of Defence (2010)

The Claimant, a 43 year old man, received damages for a back injury sustained whilst in the army.  Due to his injury, caused when he fell from a tank, the Claimant was downgraded as being fit only to perform home duties.  Five years after the accident the Claimant’s back pain continued to limit his ability to work so that he was only able to work around two days a week.  It was believed that with treatment his injury might improve so that he could work four days a week. 

The Defendant argued that the multiplier (calculated period of loss) for future loss of earnings should be based on the traditional age of 65 years old.  The Judge rejected that there was a “traditional age” and found that as the Claimant’s state pension age was 66 the multiplier was to be calculated on that basis.  Calculating the multiplier in this way could be of future importance for Defendants if the pension age is to increase to 68, and potentially higher, under the Coalition Government.  

Interim Payments: Location, Location, Location

Darren Best v Damion John Smyth (2010)

The Claimant applied for an interim payment in the course of a claim following a road traffic accident which left him paraplegic.  The Defendant admitted primary liability but there were ongoing issues regarding contributory negligence.

The Claimant sought £800,000 to buy the bungalow he currently rented (and to make some adaptations), as his landlord was looking to sell with vacant possession.  The Defendant submitted that although the Claimant had an immediate need for accommodation, he did not need to buy that bungalow at that time, and that an interim payment would fetter the trial judge’s power when allocating the final award between capital and periodical payments. 

The Judge applied Eeles v Cobham Hire Services Ltd (2009).It was not necessary to decide whether the bungalow was suitable or not.  The relevant considerations were the reasonableness of the amount requested and whether the trial judge would award a larger capital sum than that covered by general and special damages.  The Claimant was awarded £650,000 which would allow him to buy the bungalow (but not make the adaptations, which could wait); this would be no more than a reasonable proportion of the likely final award (estimated at around £2million).  This is another case which highlights the difficulties of resisting interim payment applications.

New Home for Royal Centre for Defence Medicine

This month has seen the first patients moving into Britain’s biggest new hospital as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham opened.  The new hospital will open in stages; with the Emergency Department receiving patients from the early hours on 16 June. 

The QEHB is the first acute hospital to be built in Birmingham for 70 years.  The project has been in development since 1997 and has been completed on budget and on schedule.   

The hospital has 1,213 beds and is home to the largest single critical care unit and the biggest solid organ transplant programme in Europe.  The QEHB will be a major trauma centre for the West Midlands, as well as being the primary treatment receiving centre for Britain’s injured military personnel.  Service personnel will now be treated in a 30-bed state of the art military section located within the trauma and orthopaedics ward of the new hospital. 

How much are you worth on the transfer market?

As England finds itself in the midst of World Cup fever the NHS is encouraging football fans to find out if they are match fit.

A new online tool that allows fans to test their match fitness has been launched by the NHS.  The tool’s aim is to encourage sofa loving football fans to get more active.  By answering a series of simple health questions fans can find out how much they would be worth in today’s transfer market and see how they compare to fans from around the world.

The initiative is being backed by the Football Association (who have donated Wembley tours and tickets to England matches for winning fans) and the tool can be found on Facebook, iTunes and NHS Choices. 

To find out how much you’re worth click here.


 

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