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Coles Miller's £815,000 Compensation Settlement Is A UK First17th Dec 2019

by on 17th Dec 2019


Dorset law firm Coles Miller has helped a student to claim £815,000 compensation after an alleged hospital error caused permanent damage to her bladder.

Coles Miller took legal action against the NHS after the then 17-year-old student’s ovarian cyst operation went tragically wrong.

She began to suffer urinary retention but was allegedly wrongly discharged from hospital without being correctly informed that her bladder was not working properly. 

The girl’s urinary retention problem went untreated for seven weeks, causing severe and permanent damage to her bladder.

Her injuries included:

  • acute bladder damage – requiring a urostomy bag that must be changed daily and monitored carefully
  • bladder spasms four or five times every day
  • pain in her kidneys and possible long-term kidney damage
  • recurring urinary tract infections requiring hospitalisation and regular courses of antibiotics – causing concern that this treatment will become less effective as the infections become more resistant to antibiotics
  • continuing pain and difficulty in releasing urine
  • psychiatric injury, including a phobia of hospitals
  • the likely need for more surgery in the future – and the risk of further complications.

Her No Win No Fee compensation claim was handled by Coles Miller solicitor Lydia Barnett, a Poole-based Partner in the firm’s Medical Negligence Department.

Ms Barnett said: “Our client has suffered long-term physical and psychological injuries, which have significantly affected her day-to-day life and have had a detrimental impact on her ability to pursue a chosen career as a chartered accountant.”

The patient tried self-catheterising in a bid to release urine from the bladder. This was extremely distressing and contributed to her psychological injury. She also tried neuromodulation treatments to try and ‘shock’ her bladder into working again.

These failed and she underwent a urinary diversion and urostomy procedure in 2015, leaving her with a urostomy bag for the rest of her life. She is still only 24 years old.

The Waterlooville student reached an out-of-court settlement with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust following mediation. The trust denied causing the problem.

Coles Miller and barrister Hamish Dunlop of 3PB Bournemouth represented the patient throughout her case and her mediation. The mediator was Robert Seabrook QC.

A large proportion of the damages claimed were to compensate Miss A for past and expected future financial losses and expenses. They include:

  • lost earnings – the patient was hindered in pursuing her studies and a career as a chartered accountant
  • a lump sum to reflect that – even if she did become an accountant – she would be at a disadvantage in her industry compared with other employees
  • care and assistance with her urostomy bag, household and social activities
  • house adaptations due to her physical limitations
  • assistance with gardening and DIY
  • future private treatment and medical expenses.

The case involved medical evidence from experts in gynaecology, urology, nursing, psychiatry, occupational therapy and neurology.

It was the first case in the UK to pilot the NHS Resolution E-Filing Scheme – in which all mediation documents are filed electronically on to an online portal. This saves time and money.

Lydia Barnett said: “E-filing was efficient in ensuring that all parties had access to the documents simultaneously. It saved the time, expense and paper involved with preparing hard copy bundles.

“It is hoped that this successful pilot of the scheme will help legal teams in mediation in the future,” she added. 

For more information, contact Coles Miller Partner Lydia Barnett, Poole office (01202 355695).

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.