Medical negligence can cause pain, suffering, loss of income, embarrassment and in worse case scenarios, even death. No one, including some of the world’s most famous celebrities is immune from the consequences of a doctor or a surgeon making the wrong decision.
From a botched operation that damaged one of England’s greatest singing voices, to a plastic surgery procedure that ruined one beauty’s acting career; here are five celebrities who have been victims of medical negligence.
One of Britain’s best known voices, Dame Julie Andrews, who lit up the stage in My Fair Lady and brought the characters of Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music’s Maria von Trapp to life, won an estimated £20 million in an out-of-court settlement after an operation on her vocal chords left her unable to hold a single note.
In 1997, the singing legend was diagnosed with non-cancerous nodules on her vocal cords. The nodules were successfully removed at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center but she was left unable to sing professionally.
The New York Times reported that according to the lawsuit, she alleged had not been told that the operation carried the risk of permanent hoarseness, “irreversible loss of vocal quality” or other complications that might leave her unable to sing. The lawsuit accused the surgeon of operating on both sides of her vocal cords, though there was “no reason to performsurgery of any kind” on the right side.
In 2008, Men Behaving Badly star, Lesley Ash, received nearly £5 million in compensation from the NHS Litigation Authority after contracting the MRSA superbug from an epidural needle which came loose after being admitted to a London hospital with a punctured lung and broken ribs.
The superbug left her temporarily paralysed from the waist down and Ms Ash claimed that her career was subsequently ruined as she was unable to play the ‘pretty blonde’ roles she was famous for.
The amount of compensation paid to Ms Ash was controversial at the time, as it equalled the total amount paid to every MRSA victim in Britain since 2002. However, the NHS Litigation Authority said the amount awarded was based on Miss Ash’s projected loss of earnings as she was at the ‘peak’ of her career when the incident took place.
Perhaps the most famous case of medical negligence concerns the death of pop legend Michael Jackson. Dr Conrad Murray was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment after he admitted to violating medical procedures by prescribing the singer powerful painkillers, administering medicine at Jackson’s home that should only be given in hospital, for not calling an ambulance promptly and for not telling the paramedics he had administered drugs.
Dr Conrad was released in 2013 after serving two years for involuntary manslaughter.
Eighties music fans will remember the English band Dead or Alive, who in 1984 released the smash-hit single, ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’. However, you may not recognise the lead singer, Pete Burns, following botched plastic surgery, which he blames for “ruining his career and his life”.
In 2009, Mr Burns sued a Harley Street surgeon for medical negligence after he suffered a reaction to injections of lip filler which resulted in swelling, blisters, discharge and lumps. He claimed his lips were so badly damaged that he could not eat normally and had to drink through a straw.
The doctor who administered the filler admitted negligence on a number of the allegations against him, including one of failing to heed manufacturer’s instructions.
Mr Burn was eventually awarded £450,000 in compensation.
In 2015, a documentary accused Dr Hyman Engelberg, Marilyn Monroe’s personal physician, of ‘signing her death sentence’ by prescribing her a lethal cocktail of sleeping pills.
The screen legend, who suffered from chronic insomnia, was prescribed a combination of Nembutal and Chloral Hydrates, which can have fatal consequences if taken together (the drug combination has been used during executions).
In 1982, Dr Engleberg, under oath, denied prescribing the drugs to Marilyn. Marilyn Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Los Angeles home in 1962 at the age of 36.
At IBB, our personal injury team, led by Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim for medical negligence. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our contact form. Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence.