Clinical negligence headlines: 09.04.2018

Here are the main headlines that we’ve seen in the clinical negligence department this week, courtesy of our Head of department Joanne Warren. If you’ve been the victim of clinical negligence, or know someone who has, log on to www.claimtoday.com/negligence or call 08000 93 93 92.

Robotic surgery linked to 144 deaths in the US

The BBC reported that a study into the safety of surgical robots has linked the machines’ use to at least 144 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries over a 14-year period in the US.

Whilst the report acknowledges that the figures represent a small proportion of the total number of robotic procedures, it calls for fresh safety measures.

However, the UK’s Royal College of Surgeons said it believed the report should be “treated with caution”. In particular, they highlight that the report’s authors do not compare the level of complications in surgery where robots are not used, and nor do they examine the benefits of robotic surgery which are starting to be reported.

Indeed, in most cases the FDA’s logs do not make clear whether the use of the machines was directly responsible. In fact, of the headline figures, only five of the deaths are specifically tied to technical errors that occurred during an operation.

What seems clear, however, is that the use of robotics in surgery is not going away and therefore more detailed reporting of the causes of deaths is needed to form a clearer picture will improve the accuracy of  future studies. In the meantime, the report’s authors suggest that some problems may be overcome if surgical teams receive more troubleshooting training.

Follow up: Six year old died after doctor ‘failed to spot meningitis’

In our 12.03.18 blog we commented on the ongoing inquest which was taking place following the death of a six year old girl.

The child was taken to the Emergency Department at Royal Oldham Hospital with a high temperature, leg and stomach pains and a “tell-tale” rash on her hip. She died eight hours later.

The doctor told the inquest he noticed the child’s hip mark and thought it was a bruise, and made no note of it.

At the inquest, the doctor was heavily criticised by the coroner. She stated “The doctor’s lack of communication, record keeping and blatant disregard for the concerns raised, was the catalyst to the catastrophic events that followed. “ She continued “I believe if further tests had been run at the early stage there would have been preliminary indication of sepsis.”

The facts of this particular case suggest that if Layla had been seen soon after her admission to A&E, she could have survived – the coroner commented that “The golden hour and opportunity to instigate treatment was missed.”

Patients ‘still at risk’ at Royal Cornwall Hospital

The Care Quality Commission has found that a hospital with “longstanding” problems is continuing to put patients at risk.

An inspection at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals’ Trust revealed it had failed to improve in many areas flagged up in a previous report.

A further warning noticed has therefore been issued and the trust must make “significant improvements” by 13 April.

Its chief executive said it accepted the criticisms and was working to meet the requirements.

However, this is the fifth CQC report highlighting serious concerns at RCHT since September 2015.

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