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11 June 2015

NHS compensation rise for negligent hospital deaths

Figures show the number of payments made by the NHS Litigation Authority for fatality claims as a result of medical negligence has risen sharply over recent years, with more than 20 families a week in the UK receiving settlements after the death of a loved one due to negligent medical care.

Almost one third of fatality claims in the last year were as a result of delays or failure in critical treatment, while other cases occurred due to misdiagnosis, poor nursing care, incorrect medicines being administered or patients being sent home from hospital too early.

Over the last two years there have been more than 2,300 successful medical negligence death claims resulting in compensation payouts by the NHS of £108m, and over the past five years cases have more than doubled.

The average compensation payout value is reported to be £50,000 but there are cases where payouts are much higher. One claim was settled in 2013 for £2.4 million in a case where a woman was given a dose of a labour inducing drug 16 times the level stated in guidelines, resulting in her death and also the death of her baby.

Although the NHS is taking steps to reduce the number of cases such as these, there are concerns that lessons are not being learned.

A recent news story highlighted the case of pensioner George Richardson, aged 84 from Sunderland, who died in Sunderland Royal Hospital in February this year. An inquest held at Sunderland Coroner’s Court found that damage caused from the insertion of a catheter was a contributory factor in his death. 

The case echoed that of the death of another pensioner at the hospital after a similar procedure several years before, raising questions as to whether there have been any protocol changes relating to the training of medical staff and leading the Coroner to write to the Health Secretary over the case.

If you believe the death of a loved one may have been caused by negligent medical treatment then our expert team can help. Contact our specialist clinical negligence team direct on 0191 5666 500 or complete our no obligation enquiry form.