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Why do seriously injured patients often need high levels of compensation?

Medical negligence lawyer Olive Lewin looks at the facts behind the headlines

Intensive care unit
Specialist medical negligence lawyer and former nurse Olive Lewin has significant experience in bringing complex clinical negligence claims. She is particularly experienced in spinal injury, brain injury and cerebral palsy cases.
Every so often, there is an attack on patients recovering damages for injuries suffered through someone else’s negligence. These attacks usually come from the medical defence organisations, the government or the NHSR, yet they never give a tempered account of how and why damages payments occur. They also never give any consideration to the hidden costs. 

So what of the patient who goes to A&E on three occasions over three days with headache, neck pain, photophobia and vomiting and says I think I have meningitis but is told there is nothing wrong and is turned away, who then on the fourth attendance is then admitted straight to ITU? There is then an expensive high tech fight, using the latest equipment and medicines and highly specialised personnel to save their life. The life is saved, but the damage is paralysis from the neck down. 

That patient remains an inpatient for six months having expensive rehabilitation; needs to be rehoused in a specially adapted property; it falls to the local authority to provide 24 hour care; is a client of the wheelchair service for life. Had the meningitis been treated at any of the first three attendances, the patient would have had a 100% recovery. That ITU bed would have been available for the person who was non negligently ill; that six month stay in a hospital bed would have been available for others; that property would have been available for someone in need who had not suffered negligent damage. We never hear how much this costs the State. 

What of the baby who is starved of oxygen at birth? That baby remains on the Special care baby Unit for a month; then has to have specialist therapies for life; attend special schools with on-site carers; attend regular hospital appointments; some will never walk, run, or indulge in any of the activities associated with a normal childhood. They too will need 24 hour care for life. How much does this cost the State? 

Negligence costs, and in order to reduce the damages bill and the cost to society, lessons need to be genuinely listened to and learned. 

Why would anyone want to deny these individuals the right to a fair and just level of compensation?

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