Bereavement damages: an award or an insult?
Mary Maddocks recently settled a claim for £50,000 on behalf of a client who suffered injuries following a missed diagnosis of diverticulitis by a hospital trust.
Our client, a 68 year old man, presented to his local hospital with severe abdominal pain, nausea, shaking and sweating. He was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, prescribed antibiotics and painkillers and told to go home. His symptoms intensified and a few days later he was seen by his GP at home who immediately suspected diverticulitis and referred him to hospital. Upon admission, our client was diagnosed with a perforated bowel caused by untreated diverticulitis.
Our client required an emergency colostomy operation and was fitted with a stoma bag which he lived with for 9 months. He developed extreme anxiety and depression as a result of his experience which culminated in him attempting to take his own life shortly before a planned stoma reversal procedure. He required intensive input from psychiatric services to overcome his illness. He eventually underwent a successful stoma reversal.
Fortunately, our client has now made a good physical and psychiatric recovery, although he has been left with scarring, extensive bowel adhesions and several incisional hernias.
The defendant hospital trust fought this claim until exchange of witness statements, following which they made an offer of settlement which was accepted. The settlement sum of £50,000 included an award for our client’s pain and suffering and past and on-going losses.
Diverticular disease and diverticulitis
Diverticular disease is a condition whereby the lining of the intestine develops small bulges or pockets (diverticula). Symptoms can include bloating and abdominal pain, but, in fact, the majority of sufferers do not experience any symptoms at all.
When bacteria becomes trapped in those pockets causing infection, the condition is more serious and is known as diverticulitis. Sufferers can experience a high temperature, severe abdominal pain and diarrhoea. If the condition is diagnosed early, it can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics. If not, diverticulitis can lead to the development of bowel perforations, abscesses, fistulas, peritonitis (infection of the lining of the abdomen) and intestinal obstruction.
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