Medical Negligence at St. Albans City Hospital

Medical Negligence at St. Albans City Hospital

St Albans City Hospital comes under the umbrella of the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which also includes Hemel Hempstead Hospital and Watford General Hospital. St Albans City Hospital provides elective care, as well as a wide range of outpatient and diagnostic services.  It has 40 beds and 6 operating theatres, as well as a Minor Injuries Unit. It also has a Breast Care Unit.

It is a small hospital delivering vital services to the local community. However, even in a small hospital errors can occur which may have an adverse impact upon a patient’s health and well-being. In those circumstances, if a mistake has caused harm to the patient they may be entitled to legal redress, financial compensation for the experience and suffering they have endured.

How do I make a St Albans City Hospital Medical Negligence Claim?

You may be unsure or hesitant about making a claim. That is entirely understandable. Indeed, you may not want to pursue a claim for compensation even if you are entitled to financial recompense. That is a decision you are entitled to make. However, if, before making a final decision, you would like to know whether you have the basis of a claim, do not hesitate to call 0333 123 9099, email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or use the enquiry form to request a call back.

We will ask you a few questions and will probably be able to tell you quite quickly whether you may be entitled to medical negligence compensation.

St Albans City Hospital Mistakes

Fortunately, because of high quality, skilled staff at the hospital and their dedication to providing the best possible care, there are relatively few errors and mistakes at the St Albans City Hospital. However, errors do occur from time to time, from which there may be an unfortunate outcome for the patient. Indeed, the CQC inspection in 2018 identified a number of deficiencies in the services provided by the hospital.

As an example, in 2018 the hospital found itself having to apologise to a patient having inserted the wrong implant during surgery. The patient had the correct knee operated upon but it was later found that a left knee implant had been used on the patient’s right knee. The explanation from the hospital was that, “the prostheses for left and right are very similar and therefore, after an assessment involving senior clinicians and in consultation with the patient, it was decided that the prosthesis should remain in situ”. No corrective surgery was undertaken, but the patient was to be regularly monitored to ensure that there were no adverse outcomes following this mistake.

Back in 2014 the hospital suspended two of its managers when the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust reported hundreds of suspected cancer patients were discharged by mistake. The Trust went on to state that at least one person might have died as a result of these letters and that 121 patients were yet to have their cases reviewed. In one case, where there was a death, the hospital thought the delay in seeing the patient might have contributed to their death.

As a consequence of these mistakes the Trust made significant changes to prevent such a mistake happening again.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) report-St Albans City Hospital

The CQQ inspectors carried out an inspection of the hospital between 16 October and 30 November 2018, producing the report in February 2019. Their conclusion was that overall, the services were “inadequate”. This means that the hospital was performing badly and that the inspectors had taken enforcement action against the hospital.

The inspectors specifically identified the minor injuries unit as “requires improvement”. This was because the unit wasn’t performing as it should, and inspectors told the hospital how it must improve.  The reason for this rating was that there was no initial clinical assessment of adult patients. This had not improved since the previous inspection and meant that patient’s condition was at risk of deteriorating while they waited for treatment. Although the inspectors found that children were assessed quickly, the hospital could not provide assurance that this always took place.

It was also recorded that the staff did not use an early warning scoring system in order to identify deteriorating patients.

There remained a lack of monitoring of patient outcomes, performance measures and compliance with protocols.

The report stated that x-rays were not always available when required. There was also a lack of understanding of the risks that could impact upon good quality care. Again, this was raised at the previous inspection and whilst there had been some improvement, not all risks had been added to the risk register.

The urgent and emergency services were deemed “inadequate”. The deficiencies in service were identified as follows:-

  • The hospital did not have a systematic and robust approach to governance and the management of risk. This had been highlighted in the previous inspection.
  • There was a lack of monitoring of patient outcomes. This had previously been identified by the CQC.
  • Patients can wait up to 3 hours before being seen. There was no formalised process for clinically assessing patients.
  • There was no active quality improvement strategy.
  • The inspectors stated that information was of a poor quality with reliance on manual processes to extract data.

Do you deal with my medical negligence claim?

We are expert medical negligence solicitors. We handle a range of injuries arising out of medical negligence in hospitals, as well as fatalities, arising out of mistakes, errors and a sub standard of care.  We represent clients at hospitals across the country and at local hospitals. These include Watford General Hospital, Hillingdon Hospital, Ealing Hospital and Northwick Park Hospital.

Over many years we have dealt with an extensive range of harm caused by substandard treatment, mistakes and errors. Examples of our experience and expertise are as follows:

Why ask IBB Claims Solicitors to act on your behalf?

We are accredited by the Law Society for Personal Injury Law reflecting our expertise in this area. IBB Claims’ partner Malcolm Underhill has particular expertise with all types of brain injuries, being accredited as a Brain Injury Specialist by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Our team is recognised by Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500, the two leading client guides to the legal profession, for our exceptional skill in handling clinical negligence claims.

Legal 500 judges IBB as having a “good” clinical negligence department and “puts the client’s interests at the forefront of every decision.” Simon Pimlott has “a real eye for detail and works incredibly hard to get the best result for each client.”  Simon has also been described by the publication as a “Rising Star”.

Chambers describes Malcolm as being a highly experienced personal injury practitioner with a strong focus on cases that involve brain injury. A client notes:

 "He is a very personable, sympathetic professional that has helped us as a family….."

When should I make a St Albans City Hospital?

A patient who suffers harm at the hospital has quite a long time to make a claim for financial compensation, for the mistakes that have been made. They can make a claim within three years of the procedure or treatment which led to the harm or injury. However, in the majority of cases claims are made much earlier and is often in the interest of the patient for a claim to be made as quickly as possible.

The reason for this is that early notification of a claim will reduce the risk of documents being lost and, memories fading. This is very important because whilst medical records provide lots of data and information about treatment and care, they are likely to record summaries of conversations. Understandably, the patient’s own recollection of events is likely to be clearer in relation to conversations with health professionals and because it is a very personal experience, are likely to remember those conversations more clearly than the professionals who are carrying out a similar role several times a day, on a day-to-day basis.

Therefore, it can be vital that once an error leads to harm, contact is made with a specialist medical negligence solicitor, so that all the relevant information can be obtained at an early date.

In tragic circumstances where the mistake or error leads to the death of a patient, a similar time limit applies, in that the claim must be made by family members within three years of the death occurring. In those limited cases where death arises out of medical substandard treatment, it is likely that the coroner will take an interest and undertake an inquest into what took place. At a coroner’s inquest the hospital will be represented by lawyers and therefore, it can be helpful to the family to have a lawyer on their side, to ensure that the appropriate enquiries are made in advance of the inquest, as well as the correct questions being asked at the inquest hearing.

One of the purposes of the inquest is to ascertain how the deceased died, considering the circumstances surrounding their death. Understanding the surrounding circumstances is  important when seeking to establish whether the hospital are legally liable for the untimely death of the family member.

Making a complaint

As an alternative to making a claim for financial compensation, the patient or their family may wish to make a complaint to the hospital, under the hospital complaints procedure. This can be a good process in order to understand what went wrong and for the hospital to provide a formal response to the complaint or concerns of the patient. However, under the complaint procedure the hospital do not provide financial redress.

It is not necessary to go through the complaints procedure before making a claim for compensation.

How do I make a St Albans City Hospital medical negligence claim?

If you would like to know if you may be entitled to medical negligence compensation, call 0333 123 9099, email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or use the enquiry form to request a call back.

On the basis of a limited amount of information from you we are likely to be able to indicate within a few minutes whether we believe we are able to make a claim for compensation arising out of the harm suffered.

Where is IBB claims?

Our offices are in Chesham and thus convenient to speak and meet with you to discuss your concerns. We will provide clear advice at our meeting with you so that you may make an informed decision, at your leisure, as to whether you wish to proceed with a claim for medical negligence compensation.