Failure to diagnose - court case

The story speaks for itself. Seems to have been posted on the legal website and the Lancashire Evening Post in February 2015, and only just made it to the Daily Mail.

Lifelong care secured for severely disabled man after hospital legal battle

23/02/2015

A family has spoken of their relief that their severely disabled son’s needs will be taken care of now and in the future after the High Court in London today approved a compensation settlement of £3.9 million following a hospital legal battle.

Amos Mason, 25, of Preston, Lancashire, was born with serious thyroid condition septo-optic dysplasia which went undiagnosed and untreated for several years. Despite numerous visits to the former Sharoe Green Hospital, tests which could have provided a diagnosis were not carried out. When Amos was 11 he collapsed and suffered devastating brain damage. His family contacted the specialist medical negligence team at JMW Solicitors for advice and an investigation was launched into the care he was provided with in the run up to his collapse

JMW gathered independent medical evidence that found that the failure to test and diagnose Amos led to his collapse and subsequent brain damage. Although Amos would have had disabilities if he hadn’t suffered a collapse JMW argued that these would have been far less severe.

Due to the complexity of the case, and the difficulties in distinguishing between the problems caused by the hospital’s negligence and those that Amos would have had anyway, JMW negotiated that Amos should be compensated by the North West Strategic Health Authority for 52.5 % of all of his injuries (both negligently and non-negligently caused). This agreement was approved by the High Court November 2013 and enabled negotiations to begin into how much compensation should be awarded to Amos.

This has now concluded with the court today giving its seal of approval for a settlement worth £3.9 million, which will include a lump sum to enable Amos’ family to purchase a suitable property for him.

The issue of how the balance of the award is to be paid is to be subject to a further court hearing which will take place once further evidence is obtained.

Sally Leonards, a partner in the JMW medical negligence team who is representing Amos, commented: “This was an extremely challenging and complex case so I am delighted to have helped Amos and his family to achieve the justice that they deserve. I am especially pleased that the award will help to obtain care for Amos for the rest of his life. Amos’ parents have devoted 25 years of their lives to his care and they should be commended for their unswerving patience and dedicated attention to him despite the immense difficulties they have faced.

“Amos has very severe disabilities and significant needs which makes caring for him extremely challenging for his family. He is reliant on a wheelchair, he is unable to speak and has severe learning disabilities and obstructive behaviour. Due to his thyroid condition he is significantly overweight and he is also very strong and demanding. He requires very specialist care and accommodation which this compensation settlement will help his family to provide.

“The decision to take legal action was not made lightly by Amos family but they felt there were numerous opportunities for doctors to prevent his collapse and brain damage which our investigation and independent medical evidence supported.”

Amos’ mother and full-time carer Ruth Mason, 48, commented: “It is such a relief for the case to have settled and to be able to start putting that side of things behind us and focus even more on ensuring Amos has everything he needs to have the best possible quality of life.

“This settlement will make a huge difference to Amos’ life and means we will no longer have to worry about who will look after him when we are not here anymore, which was a huge concern.

“Nothing can turn back the clock but we hope that if anything can be achieved through Amos’ case it is that awareness has been raised. It gives us hope that other children with similar conditions receive prompt diagnosis and treatment and might avoid disabilities of the severity that Amos has.”

jmw.co.uk/services-for-you/...

Two other links to the same story:

lep.co.uk/news/health/local...

dailymail.co.uk/news/articl...

Link to description of septo-optic-dysplasia:

ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/s...

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22 Replies

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  • Thanks Helvella for this link,

    It makes you want to weep for the family's trials and tribulations to try to get help/diagnosis for their son. Then the devastating deterioration and worsening of his condition by profound neglect.

    Money cannot buy health but at least, as his Mother says, he will be cared for in the future when the parents no longer can.

  • That article leaves you not knowing very much about anything - except the money! They talk as if it's a thyroid condition when it's a pituitary condition - how many people are going to take the time to Google septo-optic-dysplasia - which sounds more like it's a problem with the eyes, anyway. A very ignorant article, fostering ignorance.

    But it does leave one wondering how such a thing can happen. How do you miss the signs of low HGH in a child? Why wouldn't they do the correct tests? I would like to hear this story from the hospital's side to know what exactly happened. But that's not important, is it, it's just about the money...

  • I think there are several cultural issues surrounding poor care of thyroid problems.

    "Thyroid problems" has become a short hand phrase, used by comedians and others telling jokes, and believed by many doctors, that means one or more of the following :

    Fat, lazy, greedy, stupid, "fork in mouth disease", mad, middle aged, menopausal, ugly, female, self-inflicted health problems, hypochondriac.

    If someone doesn't fit into this stereotype then testing the thyroid is probably the last thing a doctor thinks of. And when it is tested, and found to be not working correctly, then the problem is assumed to be a minor one. Anyone complaining about a thyroid problem can be dismissed because they are just a whinger.

    With all these cruel stereotypes flying around what chance does a baby boy have?

  • But Don't they automatically test babies for thyroid at birth? They must have got odd results, surely. At least in the maternity they should know what they're doing, it's GPs that go by the steriotypes.

  • Yes, I think you're right. I've never given it a thought before, and know zero about thyroid testing at birth. But some questions do immediately come to mind.

    At what stage after birth is testing done? Minutes? Hours? Days later? Is there any chance at all that maternal thyroid hormone could skew the results if testing is done within minutes?

  • Yes, I thought the same. But, hopefully, they know what they're doing. If maternal hormone could skew results, they must know that, and take blood accordingly.

    But there are so many unanswered questions in this case - like when he was diagnosed - that guessing gets us nowhere, really.

  • hi g.g. , to my personal knowledge hospitals do NOT automatically check all births for thyroid problems as a general test

  • Really? I thought they did these days. Don't know where I got that idea, but...

  • could it be yet another postcode health thing ? .....depending on where the hospital is ?.... I know that they don't automatically test in my area !!! ....which brings on the question if this is the case why is it not carried out across the board and also what exact tests for all possible problems are actually carried out as the norm , thyroid conditions being only 1 of many many others .......also as we all know most thyroid tests only consist of t.s.h. which we know as fact is NOT a defining factor without other tests [ t3/t4etc ] in conjunction because it is apparent that the t.s.h. test is flawed and open to mis-interpretation ....alan x

  • Indeed, it does open up a lot of questions!

  • opens up a lot of questions for debate at the very least ....... even to only vent our dissatisfaction in the system ......alan x

  • The NHS seems to say that congenital hypothyroidism is checked.

    nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy...

    Very recently I saw (and think I posted) that FT4 picks up cases which can be missed by the usual TSH applied to heel prick tests.

    Some babies do "pass" the test but are later found to be low in thyroid hormones.

  • Yes the heel prick test is done at about 7 days - well the midwife tested my 6 week old granddaughter anyway!

    babycentre.co.uk/a569381/ne...

  • Well, that's good to know! And is the mother privy to the results?

    It doesn't mention thyroid in the link you gave, though.

  • the heel prick test is down the bottom under "What happens after the full examination?

    I suppose mum's only told if results are abnormal?

  • Ah, yes! OK. Sorry, missed that. lol Well, good! I'm glad that at least somewhere they are testing babies at birth. What a pity it's not everywhere, then.

  • I think it is offered everywhere in the UK

    patient.info/health/newborn...

  • Good! So, how did they miss this poor child?

  • My guess (and that is all it is) - TSH was in range.

  • What more can anyone say...

  • There are many thyroid patients who are disabled due to the lack of care from the nhs. Many patients are suffering, unable to work, in pain, not able to hold down a job, and whose relationships break down due to the effects of undiagnosed and untreated thyroid diseases.

    I am so pleased that this young man has got some compensation, but how sad that this poor neglected child and his parents were left without proper treatment and support when it was needed.

    I am hoping for the day when other thyroid patients are able to claim some compensation for their loss of a normal life due to neglect from the nhs. Will someone have a go, there must be lots of people on this forum who have a very strong case.

  • This could so easily have been us. My son was born with Hypopituitarism and Septo-Optic Dysplasia after I had been diagnosed with Graves a few years previously. My first son was born normally and well (although at the age of 47 I now feel he is Hypothyroid, much as he rails against it). Four years later I was diagnosed with Graves an my second son was born four years later with this problem. At 3 months old, having been born 6 weeks early by caesarean section because I had Pre-Eclampsia, he was in an incubator for 12 weeks. The Consultant said to take him home and treat him normally, in our naivety, we did this, until he was 9 months old and at a hospital check-up we asked the Consultant for a second opinion. He sent us to Great Ormond Street Hospital and things progressed from there. My son had HGH injections from the age of 2.5 years,which were stopped at age 7 because it was found that some people having this injection had Creutdzfeldt Jakob Disease. A year later, after my son had stopped any growth and reverted to wetting the bed (he had been dry at night from the age of three), a synthetic Growth Hormone was given until the age of 19 when his bone growth had stopped. He has never made up the 8in he was deficient at birth.

    I feel my son had good treatment all the while he was under GOSH and from the age of 19 at UCL, and when we came to a local hospital this carried on fairly well until the past 5 years, when there is a very blase attitude to his condition, and like all Thyroid patients he is suffeering since being taken off Goldshield Eltroxin in 2010.

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