Friday, June 29, 2007


The NHS chequebook proves it

The family of a premature baby who died after emergency surgery to the wrong lung have agreed an out-of-court settlement with the hospital trust concerned. Clarke Jackson was born three months prematurely at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, in April 2004, weighing 2.2lb (1kg). He died less than 11 hours later. The child’s family have pursued a legal claim against the hospital trust insisting that medical staff made a series of errors that led, at least in part, to the baby’s death.

The hospital has acknowledged that an X-ray examination revealed a problem with the baby’s left lung but that it went on to treat his right lung instead. Clarke continued to struggle for breath as his condition deteriorated.

Katrina Jackson, 34, the baby’s mother, has also claimed that staff failed to check on her during her 17-hour labour, that she was left to give birth alone and that there was nobody present to give emergency care immediately after the birth. These claims are denied by the trust, which insists that the child was so poorly he was unlikely to survive.

Mrs Jackson, of Manchester, said that the circumstances of Clarke’s death had left her wondering whether he could have lived had he been given immediate care. Mrs Jackson, who has three other children, said: “Clarke was breathing, kicking and showing all the normal signs of life when he was born. We believe he would have had a good chance with better care.

“It has left us with the question, ‘What if?’ I was in the hospital for five weeks, yet when the moment came to ensure the safest possible delivery the hospital staff just were not there doing basic things. “I had to insist on seeing Clarke’s medical records. If I hadn’t, we would have been brushed aside with the explanation that he as too poorly and wouldn’t have made it. Getting left and right mixed up has killed my son.”

The family have agreed to accept an undisclosed five-figure sum. Adam Smith, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “This is an alarming and tragic case where hospital staff made fundamental errors.” A spokesman for the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust said: “A full investigation was carried out by the trust and lessons have been learnt to minimise the risk of this tragedy occurring again. “Clarke was very poorly and was unlikely to survive but the trust has accepted that the clinical error contributed to his tragic death.


Australia: Destructive neglect in a State public health system

A WOMAN may lose her hands after languishing on a rehabilitation waiting list for more than three years. The nails of Fran Murphy's crippled fingers are now growing into her palms, risking infection that could see her lose her hands. The 55-year-old has been on a rehabilitation waiting list since March 2004 for an aneurism and stroke suffered in September 2003. Her fingers are now clenched immovably into fists. The nursing home resident can't talk, but daughter Renae Caulkett said she constantly cried in distress.

"It's disgraceful. If she had therapy and physio from the beginning, her hands wouldn't be like this. "Now it is just going to be more resources to have her hands fixed and traumatic surgery and recovery for her. She is crying and in pain, and it is very distressing when you can't do anything to help."

Victoria's $5.6 million Slow to Recover scheme, providing intensive rehabilitation for those with brain injuries ineligible for treatment under the TAC or WorkCover, is the only one of its kind in Australia. Ms Murphy has routine physio and speech therapy. But occupational therapist Michelle French said she desperately needed specialist treatment, though she fears it is now too late. "Her hands are so tightly fisted you can't even open them to clean them or cut the nails. Had she managed to get services earlier -- hand therapy, stretching programs, and hand splints -- her hands would not be in the condition they are now," she said. Ms Murphy is on a public hospital waiting list to have her finger tendons cut. If this doesn't provide movement, or infection occurs, she faces the prospect of amputation.

Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance director Dr Bronwyn Morkham said 67 people were waiting for help under the scheme. The State Budget allocated an extra $12.3 million over three years, but Dr Morkham said this would not be available until 2008 and then only to those already on the list.

Community Services Minister Gavin Jennings's spokeswoman said the scheme was at full capacity (140 patients) and the Government spent more than $1 billion a year on rehabilitation. There had been extra funding for Ms Murphy's rehabilitation while she waited to enter the program. "DHS are in regular contact with her family to ensure this support is flexible enough to help address her needs," she said.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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1 comment:

Aaron said...

How horrific and terrifying! This is so frightening. But what can be done? Mistakes happen because we're human.