Trust pay out after knee operation blunder

By Harriet Ernstsons Wednesday 30 January 2013 Updated: 31/01 11:38

THE HOSPITAL where a man died during a knee operation has paid a settlement to his family after admitting liability.

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic NHS Foundation Trust was ordered to pay a undisclosed amount to the family of Luigi Belcuore at the High Court in Birmingham on Tuesday (January 29) following an earlier admission.

The 43-year-old - known as Louis - from Morton Bagot near Studley died in October 2009 after taking part in a clinical trial to test new techniques for treating knee cartilage problems.

Surgeon Professor James Richardson, who is still under investigation by the General Medical Council, adapted a piece of equipment without authorisation leading to the businessman having a sudden cardiac arrest. An inquest ruled in March 2011 air had been injected into his knee joint which had caused air bubbles to form in his bloodstream.

His widow Penny, who discovered just four weeks after his death she was pregnant with their third child, said: "Whilst today's approval hearing brings the civil action to an end and I am grateful that my children's future is now at least financially secure, it remains an ongoing struggle to carry on without Louis by my side. I know that he would want me to stay strong and I do this for the sake of our two daughters and our baby boy.

"However, it’s incredibly hard knowing that both they, and the son he never even got to see, will now grow up without their dad and at every milestone in their lives he will sadly not be there to share in their happiness. To be able to fully come to terms with this we need full answers about exactly what went wrong and proof the same errors can never happen again."

She added she had felt 'in a state of limbo' for the past three and a half years while trying to find out what had happened to Louis.

Victoria Blankstone, a medical law and patients' rights expert at Irwin Mitchell, said nothing could 'turn back the clock'.

"The fact remains that Louis' death remains the most appalling and needless tragedy.

"What marks out this particular case is how difficult it has been to get to the truth of what happened and whilst it is a testimony to Penny that she has remained resolutely determined in her search for answers, she is deeply upset that it has taken so long to discover the full facts of what occurred the day her husband died."

Trust chief executive Wendy Farrington Chadd said: "The Trust made an early admission of liability and the parties' lawyers have been working together to achieve settlement for Mrs Belcuore and her children which has now been approved by the court.

"The Trust deeply regrets the tragic loss of Mr Belcuore’s life in 2009 and offers its sincere apologies to Mrs Belcuore and her family and would like to wish them well for the future."

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