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Leslie Ash's 'War on MRSA' - 1 to 12
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Emo Squid
sanctus, sanctus, sanctus
Thu 17th Jan '08 2:23PM
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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3201003.ece

I want to hear what other people's thoughts are on this. As a great supporter of the health care system in this country, I'm finding it very difficult to provide you with any dialectic on the issue of whether or not Ms Ash's 5,000,000 pay-out for loss and potential loss of earnings was deserved. The hospital has admitted it's fault, so I'm not going to contest that - this is only an internet forum (albeit a great one) at the end of the day.
Leslie Ash has not appeared on our screens - aside from rare interviews - since she contracted infection due to a cosmetic surgery procedure, which resulted in her infamous "trout pout".

This landmark case has thrown the doors wide-open to the ambulence chasers. If the NHS is now facing MRSA-related claims that run into millions of pounds, how do they hope to provide the necessary financial commitment to improve cleaning in hospitals? (The actual infection that Ms Ash contracted was MSSA; an antibiotic-resistant strain of MRSA).

Spanners*
Misses his big brother :(
Fri 18th Jan '08 12:19PM
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That is absolutely crazy. Yeah it's apalling to catch any disease while in hospital but with this landmark ruling the NHS is screwed. How can they improve anything when their already tight budgets are being decimated by legal claims?
    

Emo Squid
sanctus, sanctus, sanctus
Fri 18th Jan '08 1:03PM
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Spanners was bold enough to comment:
That is absolutely crazy. Yeah it's apalling to catch any disease while in hospital but with this landmark ruling the NHS is screwed. How can they improve anything when their already tight budgets are being decimated by legal claims?



Precisely! The NHS provides a life-saving service. A grossly underfunded life-saving service that is run by over paid management who are so distant from the over-worked and under-paid frontline staff that they can't possibly provide any kind of effective management system.
This whole notion of sueing the NHS is something that really troubles me. I don't wish harm on anybody and to be on the receiving end of any kind of medical 'oversight' (for want of a better word) must be horrible. My grandad spent the last 10 years of his life in a lot of pain due to a perforated colon after routine colonoscopy. The doctor responsible apologised and added that this had never happened in 20 years. My grandparents toyed with the idea of litigation, but decided not to persue it because "the NHS have enough on their plate".
I can fully understand the need for people in this unfortunate position to want to point a finger and in extreme cases, perhaps have somebody held responsible and penalised. Maybe even struck off. However, from my point of view, these incidents (I'm talking about hospital-aquired infections here) could often have been prevented by better management.

5,000,000 would pay for almost 3 MRI scanners to be installed, maintained and run for three years. (http://www.bhf.org.uk/helping/index.asp?secID=13&secondlevel=1141&thirdlevel=1143&artID=6401)

Or pay for 109,890 women to be screened for breast cancer.
http://www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/breastscreen/#cost

That's what annoys me.

Diziet
optical moose
Sat 19th Jan '08 5:46PM
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the stupid bint wouldn't have ended up in hospital in the first place if she wasn't engaging in sexual olympics with her footballer boyfriend. it strikes me that lesley is a sponging piece of shit who has no regard for the consequences of her own actions. MRSA is something i know f**k all about but i doubt its a pleasant experience. is it any wonder this ash person contracted the bug when there are thousands of people leeching money away from the essential NHS through compensation claims?

in other news, "Jade Goody Sues Primary Care Trust For Making Her Be Born Ugly, Innit? Record Payout Of Ten Squillion Quids Plus Title Of Ruler Of Da Universe, Yeah?"


General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Mon 21st Jan '08 1:19AM
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I've been holding out on posting a reply in this thread because I'm kind of conflicted about it. So I'm going to think it though on paper and see if that helps.

What's beyond question is that the NHS could really do without loosing 5 million quids to someone who is already pretty loaded.

On the other hand when you go to the hospital with broken ribs you shouldn't be leaving permanently crippled. I reserve the right to injure myself performing elaborate sexual escapades and get patched up on the NHS. After all its a more productive use of time than all the people in casualty on a friday night from drinking and fighting.

So what's to be done?

Well you could say that it isn't possible to sue the NHS for malpractice because it is public funded and therefore it isn't in the public interest to sue it. This has two obvious flaws.

Firstly that the modern NHS is so target driven that if there were no repercussions to bad care then quality of care would inevitably be reduced by bean counters. In my line of work it is often said "If you think health and safety is expensive try having an accident" and it is these financial penalties that prevents h&s being squeezed out of a project budget to keep the margins up.

Secondly if you are maimed or killed and you aren't extremely wealthy your dependants are screwed therefore it stands to reason that you should be entitled to be reimbursed for your future needs which if you need 24 hour care is going to be significant.

Perhaps an additional but lesser point is that you should clearly be able to sue Bupa and if this wasn't extended to the public sector it is an unfair advantage to the wealthy.

Ok so that idea is pretty much a write off as far as I can see.

Lets try a different solution. Perhaps you should be able to sue the NHS, but the resultant payout should be care costs + a standardised subsistence payment.

I'm not sure I like that idea very much either.

Firstly though its easier to dispute, if an individual works hard to support his kids and provide them with a certain lifestyle then why should his ageing parents have to move out of their private care home, or his kids have to do without going to university because a surgeon who had worked for 40 hours straight severed his spinal cord. There is an argument that you should be entitled to an award based on your future earnings.
The flipside to this is that you could say life is tough and if you want to use the NHS accept that unlike corporate, or private negligence if it all goes wrong you will loose your lifestyle. Personally this doesn't seem fair though I admit it is a judgement call.

Perhaps more importantly if there was a standard lifetime entitlement on the grounds of clinical negligence then this would necessarily be based on a median UK income which would inevitably make it rife for exploitation by people who fancied something a little better than standard benefits.

I considered an alternative where there is a separate public budget for paying claims against public bodies, but this just divests the institutions of their responsibilities under the H&S act and would again lead to an inevitable decline in care quality, not to mention that the money would have to come from somewhere like for example the health budget.

This just leaves me with the system as it stands. Taking the case of Leslie Ash as a case study is probably a bad one as she has a potentially huge earning potential (Though I think it has been grossly over estimated in this instance) In addition an infection could be considered a percentage chance risk in any surgery unlike for example removing the wrong kidney.

Taking someone similar to myself as an example: lower middle class, approaching 30 then back of a fag packet my non inflation adjusted potential earnings over my life is something like a million and a half and in reality I think that would be no compensation for being rendered into a state where i could no longer work.
Taking the average case into account then I can only come to the conclusion that the system as it stands is essentially the best of a bad lot provided that payment is only on genuine negligence and the payment is proportional to genuine earning potential.

Hmm it looks like this may be a personal record for post length.
    

Malcolm*
My ape goosed a Bishop. Who are you?
Mon 21st Jan '08 9:12AM
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Wow, interesting points, folks.

Just a thought - is there perhaps some relevant detail to do with contractual expectations here? When we pay our taxes towards the NHS, what we expect in return is not a specific result (e.g. "They will fix this particular problem") but more a level of effort ("they will do their best"). Unlike most kinds of commercial agreement, we don't engage the services of a health professional based on the outcome; it's based simply on the requirement for them to try and help. (I suppose there may be exceptions to this, such as hiring a private hospital to produce a specific cosmetic result, but let's leave that aside for now.) Furthermore, we ask them to help in ways that we all know do carry risks of unintended consequences.

So, given that, the concept of sueing them for a negative outcome seems rather different from sueing a company for failing to produce the outcome you've hired it for, and it's different from sueing a shop for your injuring yourself on their premises (as that's not a risk that's an inherent part of your opting to use their service).

I'm not sure whether this point affects the overall argument much; just seemed as though it might be relevant.
   

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 23rd Jan '08 2:02PM
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I'm kind of torn on this issue. On the one hand for the NHS to be any use it needs some kind of stringent checking and should be held accountable if a mistake is made. On this line of thinking then being able to sue them for a mistake is not only acceptable but even a good thing.

On the other hand someone who has obviously earned so much money and is married to someone else who has made so much money surely doesn't require such a large payout.

I think this story, for me at least, is a case of wanting to be able to choose who wins and who loses, which is obviously unfair both to Leslie Ash and the other people who I consider to be 'more deserving' of such a large amount of money. I suppose there's a dislike of people whom I see as playing the system for their own financial gain at the expense of others. If you want a sort of generic bigotry against a large body of people whom I know nothing about.

I think I'm going to have to agree with General - although I don't particularly like the problems with the current system I find it difficult to think of a better alternative.

I think I should also point out that although the management of the NHS might be removed from the day to day running of the hospitals they're simply trying to find ways around problems like this. I find it hard to believe that so many of them would be there without trying to improve the system - as imperfect as it is.
   

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Wed 23rd Jan '08 9:58PM
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While I agree nobody should be coming out of a hospital in a worse shape than they went in, I'm with Malcolm in that no results were ever guaranteed in the first place, and unless the doctors deliberately caused harm, people shouldn't be sueing an overburdened NHS for trying to help them.

If a doctor makes a mistake which causes bad results, then this should be a matter for their line management / HR / training department to deal with, not the legal system. I'd be all in favour of people having to sign a waiver before treatment was performed so that they wouldn't be able to sue later.

A minor technical point - Leslie Ash ended up sueing the hospital for releasing her whilst she had MSSA, not for contracting it in the first place. This was because it's virtually impossible to prove in a court of law that an infection was contracted in a particular way (i.e. by negligence on the part of the hospital or it's cleaning staff), but much easier to prove that at the time of release she was infected with the disease. So the fact that she contracted it there never really came into the decision to grant her the 5m. (Edit: Not that I take an interest in celebrity lawsuits, I just happened to be listening to Law In Action yesterday...)
  

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Thu 24th Jan '08 1:59PM
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Demian - What do you think should happen to you/your family if you are unable to work due to an NHS mistake?

Also to concur with Shu and Malcolm. I think the rules are correct it's just that the judgement in this instance may be wrong.

I agree that the law should differentiate between not making someone better and causing someone terrible harm through incompetence. In a recent news story a doctor administered an epidural with the wrong drug effectively injecting poison into someone spine and killing them while they were giving birth, this is completely different from attempting a risky operation and having someone die on the table.
    

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Tue 29th Jan '08 6:13PM
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General was bold enough to comment:
Demian - What do you think should happen to you/your family if you are unable to work due to an NHS mistake?




Nothing much. I'd expect to be entitled to full incapacity benefits.

If the doctor involved was negligent then I'd expect he was dealt with through disciplinary procedures, but I wouldn't expect to sue the hospital.

Maybe, though, it might be feasible for me to sue the doctor involved personally, or his insurance company, just as long as the NHS didn't have to foot the bill...
  

General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Wed 30th Jan '08 12:10AM
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Demian was bold enough to comment:

Maybe, though, it might be feasible for me to sue the doctor involved personally, or his insurance company, just as long as the NHS didn't have to foot the bill...



I personally think that's a much worse idea. If that was the case the insurance company would charge a premium that they would be able to make a profit on therefore costing the NHS more money as a private individual wouldn't be able to pay a premium with that much liability.
    

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Wed 30th Jan '08 5:41PM
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General was bold enough to comment:

If that was the case the insurance company would charge a premium that they would be able to make a profit on therefore costing the NHS more money as a private individual wouldn't be able to pay a premium with that much liability.



Fair point. I'll go back to just claiming disability benefits then
  

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