Delay in diagnosis of liver disease at Southport Hospital

Davies and Partners acted on behalf of the widow of Mr R in bringing a claim on behalf of the Estate of Mr R and her own dependency claim. Mr R was 65 when he was admitted to Southport Hospital on the 4th May 2000 with jaundice which had developed a few days previously. He was subsequently discharged home on the 9th but his wife returned to hospital with him the following day due to his illness. He was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Liver Unit, on the 10th May but was too unwell to undergo a liver transplant and sadly died on the 12th May. The claim involved allegations of breach of duty against Southport Hospital for a delay in diagnosis, inadequate clinical review, for negligent discharge on the 9th and for failure to transfer him to the specialist liver unit on the 8th/9th May. It was the Claimant’s case that an earlier transfer would have probably led to a successful liver transplant.

Initially, the Defendants disputed liability, however, admitted breach of duty by a letter but they continued to deny causation and denied that an earlier transplant would have resulted in a successful liver transplant.

The issues of this case in terms of causation were complex. We instructed a leading Consultant in Heptology. We also had to initially obtain liability evidence and we required input from 2 experts in relation to causation due to the complex arguments that were put forward, particularly in relation to when our Client demonstrated signs of encephalopathy and research had to be undertaken into whether a liver transplant would have been available if he had been referred earlier. The Defendants disputed causation all the way, even up until they settled. Due to the litigation risk the Claimant’s claim was compromised to take into account the complexities and difficulties in proving the case on causation. A settlement was achieved in the sum of £45,000.00.

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