Call our freephone helpline to find out about medical negligence   1-800 989 988

Compensation for Side Effects from Flu Jab Available in UK

A support group in Ireland has claimed that the government has not fulfilled its promise to provide permanent compensation for the side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix despite families in the UK being able to claim compensation from the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme

The support group Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder (SOUND) has claimed that comments made by Health Minister James Reilly in a radio interview last week were made without knowledge of the facts.

In the radio interview, the health minister said that – to the best of his knowledge – the personal and financial assistance that had been asked for by families in Ireland whose children had suffered side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix had been provided.

However, Eilish Plunkett – a SOUND committee member, whose son Sean is one of the children suffering from narcolepsy as a result of the Pandemrix flu vaccine – has claimed that the minister’s statement is not supported by the facts.

Ms Plunkett claims that although some services and financial compensation for the side effects from the flu jab Pandemrix were in place, the assistance that was being provided was classified as temporary and could be taken away at any time.

She said that her son has a permanent illness which needs life-long support and claimed that Health Minister James Reilly had promised the group that a package of permanent support measures recommended in an official 2012 report would be approved before the summer recess in 2012.

However, the report – Investigation of an Increase in the Incidence of Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents in 2009 and 2010”has still not gone before the government for approval while families in the UK have already been told how much compensation for the side effects of the flu jab Pandemrix they will be able to claim.

The financial support in the UK is being provided by the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme which is administered by the Department of Work and Pensions. Families who have children who have developed narcolepsy as a consequence of being administered the swine flu vaccine will be able to claim up to £120,000 provided that a severe disability can be proven.

A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said “The Department for Work and Pensions has looked at some vaccine damage payments cases again in light of new information regarding swine flu and narcolepsy provided by the Department for Health”.

More than 800,000 doses of the flu jab Pandemrix were administered in Ireland throughout the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009/10. The Health Service Executive acknowledged that there were thirty cases of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy among children who were administered the flu jab. However, SOUND claim to represent the interests of fifty-four families in Ireland with children who are suffering from side effects to Pandemrix.

Read More

Judge Katz Delays First Bellwether Hearing for Faulty DePuy Hip Replacement Systems

The judge in charge of the multidistrict litigation has delayed the hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems to allow additional time for both parties to complete the discovery process.

The first Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems was delayed again last week after the parties in McCracken -v- DePuy (Case No 1:11 dp 20485) were permitted more time by the U.S. District Judge in charge of the hearing – David A. Katz.

The first `Bellwether` hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems has now been rescheduled for September 24th, and will concern the hip dislocation suffered by Ann McCracken (57) from Rochester in New York, instead of the injury sustained by the original plaintiff Fate Dorney-Madgitz.

Ann had a DePuy ASR XL metal-on-metal hip replacement system implanted in August 2009, but had to undergo revision surgery in January 2011 after she had suffered a dislocated hip. Her claim against DePuy Orthopaedics is based on testimony from her orthopaedic surgeon who alleges there was evidence of metallosis when he removed the DePuy implant.

In October 2011, Ann had to endure a further painful operation to implant a second device which would restrict the movement of her hip and prevent future dislocations. This second implant has reduced Ann´s mobility further and will result in her present hip replacement system wearing out quicker – resulting in future revision surgery being required.

The latest delay stems from Judge Katz´s decision that the worldwide recall of the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems should not be referred to in the hearing – not only in order that Ann´s claim be heard on its individual merits, but also because the judge agreed that any reference to the DePuy recall might dissuade other companies from voluntarily withdrawing their potentially dangerous medical devices.

Ann´s hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems is the first in a series of Federal cases which will establish the relative strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiffs´ claims and DePuy Orthopaedic´s defence. If Ann´s case – and other Bellwether trials still to be heard – helps to determine a yardstick for compensation settlements, DePuy Orthopaedics are likely to negotiate settlements of compensation with the other 7,800 plaintiffs who have included their own claims in the multidistrict litigation.

However, if the outcome of the ‘Bellwether’ trials does not establish a scale against which compensation for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems can be measured, the remaining DePuy compensation claims will be referred back to the US District Courts in which they were originally filed – with each hearing for the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems heard separately.

This would also be the scenario in Ireland, where plaintiffs who have made claims for compensation against DePuy Orthopaedics, Johnson & Johnson and the Health Service Executive would have to pursue their legal action individually through the courts.

Read More

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injuries Could be Reduced by More Senior Doctors Claims Consultant

A leading hospital consultant has claimed that the number of cerebral palsy birth injuries could be reduced if more senior doctors were available to provide 24/7 cover for labour wards.

Dr Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, was speaking at a special conference convened to hear from doctors, midwives, the legal profession and families on how preventable cerebral palsy birth injuries to babies could be reduced.

He said that the number of babies born with cerebral palsy birth injuries had not reduced in the past twenty years despite an increase in foetal monitoring and births by Caesarean section, and acknowledged that a percentage of babies born with cerebral palsy were due to mistakes by hospitals and medical staff which could have been prevented.

Dr Coulter-Smith told the conference that junior doctors are being asked to make decisions regarding the healthcare of the mother and baby without the necessary experience, and that “there needs to be 24/7 cover of labour wards by senior consultants to address this problem”.

However, the consultant continued, senior doctors are only required to work between 8.00am and 8.00pm under the terms of their current consultant contracts and, for the remainder of the time, they can be at home on call and only have come to the hospital when there is an emergency.

Dr Coulter-Smith explained that the Rotunda Hospital had tried to reduce the number of cerebral palsy birth injuries by setting up a second tier of experienced junior doctors who are available outside “normal” working hours. However, he admitted, this policy was contrary to the demands of the Health Service Executive, who want the Rotunda Hospital to reduce their medical staff.

He added that he hoped the Health Service Executive would pay attention to the message from the conference because State compensation payments for cerebral palsy birth injuries each year amounted to €45million – equivalent to the Rotunda Hospital´s annual budget.

Read More

Judge Reduces Hospital Negligence Claim Legal Costs

A High Court judge has reduced an award of hospital negligence claim legal costs, payable to a woman who was successful in her claim for compensation against the HSE in June, due to other unsubstantiated allegations.

The case of Madeline Wright v. the Health Service Executive and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital was heard in the High Court during May and June of this year and, at the end of the court case, the plaintiff – Madeline Wright – was awarded compensation on the grounds that an unreasonable delay in treating her spinal injury had constituted negligence.

However, in a departure from the normal legal principal of “costs follow the event”, Ms Justice Mary Irvine – the judge who heard the original case – has penalised Madeline for attaching unsubstantiated allegations to a genuine claim – suggesting that (in the judge´s opinion) only 20% of the evidence presented in court related to the act of negligence for which Madeline was ultimately compensated.

Although tempted to limit Madeline´s hospital negligence claim legal costs to just 20% of what had been pursued, the judge acknowledged that the practice of reducing the recovery of legal costs in “this type of litigation” is not customary and that it would be harsh to attach a large sanction in such a complex case.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said “I am satisfied that regardless of the fact that the plaintiff only succeeded on the last of what I consider to have been four separate legs of her claim that she must nonetheless be deemed to be the overall winner of proceedings in which the defendants denied any liability and in the course of which she duly established a right to compensation she would not otherwise have been able to recover”.

The judge then added “Just because a plaintiff has one good point they should not, to my mind, be permitted to litigate a myriad of others and have the court make an order requiring the successful defendant on such issues to pay for that luxury.” Ms Justice Mary Irvine subsequently allowed 65% of the hospital negligence claim legal costs – meaning that Madeline will have to pay the remaining 35% from her settlement of hospital negligence compensation.

Read More