£261,938 awarded after private hospital negligence

A Claimant was awarded damages of £261,938 following the death of his wife resulting from negligent care at a private hospital.

Circumstances

The Claimant was a widower who brought a claim against the defendant Hospital, the anaesthetist and the surgeon following the death of his wife. He also initially brought a claim against a senior house officer but this was later discontinued when the hospital accepted that they were vicariously liable for his actions.

The Claimant's wife underwent an abdominoplasty and liposuction. Tests prior to the procedure had shown that she had thyroid problems and so was at risk of complications following the operation.

Post operation the anaesthetist gave the Claimant's wife seven litres of fluid after which she began vomiting and lost consciousness. Under instruction of the surgeon the procedure was stopped and blood tests carried out. These showed that she was struggling to process the fluids.

Two days after the procedure she was transferred to another hospital but sadly suffered a cardiac arrest and respiratory failure on route. This resulted in brain stem death and her life support machine was turned off the following day.

It was alleged by the Claimant that the Defendants were negligent in proceeding with the surgery despite her medical history and the results of the tests, negligent in the administering of the fluids and also for transporting her without protecting her airway. He also claimed that they failed to properly consult her medical records or to react quickly when the complications started.

Having brought the claim, liability was disputed. The surgeon stated that there was no reason to not perform the surgery and that he was not responsible for the issues that arose following it. The anaesthetist alleged that the surgeon was responsible for all care.

It was eventually established by the Defendants that primary responsibility for the death lay with the surgeon and judgement was therefore entered against him.

Conclusion

An agreement could not be reached in respect of damages and so the Court was required to make an award. They awarded total damages of £261,938. This was made up of damages for the loss of mother's services, loss of wife's care and attention, loss of mother's care and attention, dependency on deceased's income, funeral expenses, miscellaneous expenses and a bereavement award.