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Widow settles medical negligence claim against St George's Hospital

Peter* died of liver failure at St George's Hospital, London, in February 2017 following a failure by the hospital to appreciate the side effects of drugs used in his cancer treatment.

Posted on 16 December 2019

Peter’s widow Dorothy* has received £40,000 in settlement of her medical negligence claim against St George’s Hospital following the death of her husband.

Peter was diagnosed with stage 2 lymphoma and the plan was for him to start chemotherapy with routine blood tests performed in advance.  

The blood tests showed the presence of the Hepatitis B core antibody, which suggested a previous infection and natural immunity.  The blood tests also showed a negative result for the Hepatitis B surface antigen. Peter’s liver function tests were entirely normal at this time.  He therefore underwent the chemotherapy which successfully treated his lymphoma.

Unfortunately, throughout the chemotherapy, Peter’s liver was being damaged.  The reason for this was part of the chemotherapy regime included the drug Rituximab which is known to reactive Hepatitis B in people who have the core antibody.  This was not appreciated by the doctors at St George’s Hospital.  

Peter’s liver continued to be damaged by the Hepatitis B and he died of liver failure.

St George’s Hospital admitted that their care of Peter had been negligent as they had failed to properly review his blood tests and appreciate the presence of the Hepatitis B core antibody and negative result for the Hepatitis B surface antigen.

They also accepted that they had failed to act on the warnings sent out by the manufacture of the Rituximab, which advised all hospitals about the potential reactivation of Hepatitis B in patients with positive Hepatitis B core antibody and the possibility that this would lead to fatal hepatitis.

Dorothy instructed medical negligence solicitor Kirsten Wall at Leigh Day to represent her in her claim.  

Kirsten said:

“The failure by medical staff at St George’s to realise that the use of Rituximab was slowly damaging Peter’s liver was negligent and led to his death. I hope that a full understanding of the effects of drugs on their patients will now be realised by doctors at St George’s Hospital.”

*not their real names

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Kirsten Wall

Kirsten specialises exclusively in clinical negligence claims

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