102 year old's £35,000 clinical negligence claim.

Posted: 19th June 2012

Hospital SignA 102-year-old woman has achieved a £35,000 settlement of her clinical negligence claim against the NHS. Her lawyers claimed that she was wrongly discharged from hospital after fracturing her pelvis in a fall.
Lydia Eaton, who was aged 97 at the time of the February 2007 incident, is believed to be the oldest litigant ever to successfully sue in a clinical negligence claim.
In her claim for damages from Medway NHS Foundation Trust, her lawyers alleged a failure to properly treat her injuries left her permanently immobile.
Mrs Eaton was a fit and sprightly resident of a care home, in Gillingham, Kent, at the time and was "reasonably happy and settled there". A fall at the home left her unable to walk and in great pain and she was taken by ambulance to the Medway Maritime Hospital for treatment. However, according to her lawyers, she was sent home eight hours later after a duty doctor ruled her 'fit for discharge.'
Once back at the care home, Mrs Eaton was noted to be in acute pain and 'crying out' in distress during the night. Her mental and physical state deteriorated steadily over the next month and, in April 2007, she had to be transferred to a nursing home due to her condition.
Mrs Eaton's lawyers claimed that she would have retained her ability to ‘walk and mobilise’ had she been treated properly in hospital after her fall. Proper medical treatment would also have avoided the ‘acute deterioration in her mental state’ which required her transfer to the nursing home.
The case reached London's High Court as Mr Justice Sweeney approved a £35,000 settlement of Mrs Eaton's case.
Mrs Eaton's barrister, Alexander Hutton QC, said it was his case that she "should have been admitted to hospital rather than discharged". He also claimed that Mrs Eaton was given "inappropriate medication". He stressed that the Trust had agreed to the settlement without any admission of liability and acknowledged there would have been "litigation risks" had the case proceeded to trial.
Mr Justice Sweeney said he was "pleased the parties have been able to reach settlement" and approved the award to Mrs Eaton - who was born in February 1910.