Following a successful settlement for the family of Mrs Iris Smith, after Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust admitted its negligent failure to treat her for miliary tuberculosis in 2012, Penningtons Manches has been instructed by another family whose mother also died from the same disease.
Although the team is in the early stages of its investigation, it is clear that the circumstances of this case are extremely similar to that of Mrs Smith, albeit in a different hospital.
This new case coincides with the publication of the new National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on how to better tackle tuberculosis.
Public Health England reported last year that, despite a reduction in the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases in the past three years, England still has the highest number of cases in Western Europe. Its report 'Public Health England (2015) Tuberculosis in England: 2015 report (presenting data to end of 2014)' can be viewed here.
TB is an infectious disease which can be cured. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In some people, a defensive barrier is built around the infection and the TB bacteria can lie dormant. This is latent tuberculosis and is where the person has been infected with the bacteria but does not have any symptoms of active disease and is not infectious. If the immune system fails to build this defensive barrier or the barrier later fails, then latent tuberculosis can spread within the lungs or develop in other parts of the body.
Miliary tuberculosis is the wide spread of the TB bacteria which is carried around the body in the blood. It can occur in an individual organ, in several organs or throughout the entire body. It is characterised by a large amount of TB bacteria. It can be missed and, if left untreated, it is fatal. It is therefore important to obtain an early diagnosis to ensure that treatment is given to increase the likelihood of survival.
Actress Emma Thompson’s son contracted the disease while working in Liberia and she recently campaigned on the streets of London to raise awareness of tuberculosis.
Penningtons Manches LLP will also be raising awareness of tuberculosis on World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March 2016.
Professor Mark Baker, Director for the Centre of Clinical Practice at NICE, also commented last week: “TB is a disease that is treatable and curable, but it preys on the vulnerable.”
Emma Beeson, the clinical negligence solicitor who dealt with Mrs Smith’s case and is dealing with the new instruction, comments: “The fact that tuberculosis is a treatable and curable disease is what makes these cases so upsetting and frustrating. The key is to ensure that the possibility of tuberculosis is considered at the earliest opportunity and treatment commenced immediately.
“Cases involving a failure to diagnose tuberculosis, particularly miliary tuberculosis, are quite specialised cases and it is important for any family to ensure that they choose the right legal representation to investigate the case for them.”
If you, your family or friend have been affected by tuberculosis and have any concerns regarding the failure to diagnose or treat it sooner, please call 0800 328 9545 and ask to speak to one of our team members who specialise in these types of cases.