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A Court of Appeal Hearing last month finally gave some closure to the family of a 64-year-old lady following the misdiagnosis and failure to properly investigate a complaint of chest pain, which turned out to be a pulmonary embolism, with tragic results. MG Legal, your Medical Negligence Solicitors in Lancaster keep a keen eye on the latest developments in the Medical Negligence world and this unfortunate case does, at least, have the silver lining of being helpful to patients in the future. 

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What happened? 

Doreen Marshall, a 64-year-old lady from Shoeburyness in Essex, attended an emergency appointment with her GP, Dr Mario Schembri, on the afternoon of 25th April 2014. In 2008, Mrs Marshall suffered a blood clot on her lung and she was concerned that chest pain and breathlessness she was suffering was a sign that all was not well. 
Dr Schembri examined Mrs Marshall and, instead of referring her on to Southend Hospital only a few miles away, diagnosed the pain as a strained muscle that simply needed rest. 
Sadly, Mrs Marshall collapsed and died at home the following morning, being pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics at 08:30. The cause of death was recorded as a Pulmonary Embolism. 

The initial case 

Mr Marshall, aged 75, brought a claim against Dr Schembri for the death of his wife, obtaining medical evidence that confirmed his belief that if she was referred directly to hospital, her death could have been avoided by immediate investigation, diagnosis and treatment. The initial case for any solicitor practising in medical negligence, to prove, is that of foreseeability, and that there was a foreseeable risk of personal injury to their client. 
A solicitor practising in medical negligence work, for the Defendant would argue that the outcome was inevitable in any event. Dr Schembri’s Defence was indeed, based on an admission that he should indeed have referred Mrs Marshall to Southend Hospital, but that even if he had, the outcome was inevitable. MG Legal, your Medical Negligence Solicitors in Lancaster have experience of the lengths Medical Defence Unions and insurers will go to in order to Defend a claim, however, in this case it appears they have overstretched themselves. 
At Trial, the Court accepted the Claimant’s medical evidence and found in favour of Mr Marshall. The medical evidence produced supported the fact that if Mrs Marshall was treated earlier, she was more likely to survive than not. 

The Appeal 

Dr Schembri filed what proved to have been an ill-advised Appeal on the grounds that the Claimant’s medical evidence did not specify the treatment plan by which she would have survived and unsurprisingly, the Court of Appeal found in favour of Mr Marshall once again, dismissing the Appeal. 

What does this mean for wider medical negligence cases? 

The Court of Appeal decision assists both Claimants and Defendants moving forward as it firstly, gives help in allowing a Clamant to plead that any one of a number of courses of treatment could have assisted recovery, as opposed to having to argue first that a specific treatment would have been used and then that it would have had a favourable outcome. The case, however, does not provide for such a broad approach as to plead an overall prospect of survival is 51% of more, each case must still be assessed on its individual merits. 
Defendants are also assisted as there is now a clearer threshold for them to base their Defence, or decision not to Defend, on. If the Defendant cannot suggest that the condition was, broadly, unlikely to respond to any treatment, then they may well be encouraged to settle. However, on the other hand, if evidence suggests that most usual treatments or investigations would not have been successful, even if the treatment was not provided, there is potentially no case to answer. 

What to do if I believe I have been a victim of medical negligence? 

Contact MG Legal, your Medical Negligence Solicitors in Lancaster to discuss the prospects of a claim. We have significant experience in the field of medical negligence and have settled claims against a wide variety of practitioners including GP’s, NHS and Private Hospitals, sole practitioners, colleges and beauty therapists. 
We aim to accept all Medical Negligence Claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis and any initial investigative work will be carried out free of charge. 
Simple get in touch via phone, email, web-contact form or at one of our offices in Lancaster, Garstang and Longridge, we will discuss your claim with you and look to get the ball rolling the same day. 
MG Legal – Your Local Solicitors 
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