Category Archives: News

Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Behaviour

Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors advise and represent clients across in the country in relation to claiming compensation for brain injuries sustained in accidents. We therefore keep up to date with the latest commentary surrounding the impact of such injuries on the lives of those affected and found a report published by The Centre for Mental Health into the potential link between traumatic brain injury and criminal behaviour of some interest.

Studies Reveal Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Behaviour

It is documented that there is at least some link between traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and criminal behaviour, including that of a violent nature, in those that suffer from such injuries.

Studies conducted in populations across the globe have identified cognitive and behavioural changes in individuals that have sustained serious brain injuries which heighten the risk of impaired judgement, reduced control over impulses and elevated levels of aggression. These are factors known to be associated with criminal behaviour, and whilst not everyone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury will go on to engage in criminal activity, the evidence illustrated in the report by the Centre for Mental Health is cause for concern.

Multiple TBIs Could Increase the Risk of Violent Behaviour

Estimates now place the proportion of adult offenders aged 18+ who have sustained a TBI at 60%, with the figure for under 18s at 30%. Multiple instances of serious brain injury have been shown to have a cumulative effect, further increasing the risk of criminal behaviour with each subsequent affliction. Offenders with a history of traumatic brain injury have been specifically linked with a higher probability of committing violent crimes, and an increased risk of re-offending.

Further Research Required into the Link between TBIs and Criminal Behaviour

It is worth noting however that the notion of head injuries and criminal offending sharing a common determinant has not been ruled out. Whilst it is safe to associate serious brain injury with an elevated risk of criminal behaviour, the topic is not sufficiently well understood that we can simply state that there is a link between traumatic brain injury and criminal behaviour – common factors may be at play which render some individuals at an increased risk of suffering a brain injury as well as being involved in criminal behaviour.

Additional longitudinal studies are required to assess a causal link, with particular focus being paid to instances where conviction of a criminal offense takes place after a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, rather than before; as has previously been the case with investigations into prison populations. Should such studies go ahead, findings would have to be compared to controlled matches within the general population. Thus far, studies in the field have also centred largely on US populations, with a greater need for investigation into UK offenders, and those of other nationalities, moving forward.

Recent Study Reveals High Percentage of Offenders with Brain Injury

One such UK sample examined by Pitman et al., 2015, looked at 613 male prisoners on admission to HMP Leeds, and found that more than 76% had experienced more than one brain injury, with 30% having experienced more than five. 70% were found to have sustained a brain injury before committing their first offense, and 41% of those who claimed to have suffered a serious brain injury committed their first offense before the age of 18, as compared to 20% of those who did not. Of those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, it was also found that 44% had been in prison on five or more occasions, whilst 60% reported to have committed a violent offense, compared to 38% amongst prisoners with no history of brain injury.

Further research is indeed required to develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic and any potential causal link, which would be of significant concern. In the meantime, head and brain injury solicitors should be aware of this report and the potential link between traumatic brain injury and criminal behaviour.

If you or a close friend or relative have suffered a traumatic brain injury, use our brain injury compensation calculator to find out how much compensation you could be entitled to. If you feel that you have a case for compensation, call our brain injury experts on 0800 083 5500 for a free, no-obligation discussion about your case.

Southend Hospital Providing Substandard Care

Southend Hospital is providing substandard care across multiple fields and continues to place patients’ wellbeing at risk, according to a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report made public at the end of July 2016. Having assessed the Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust-site for three days in January 2016, the CQC deemed a number of operational fields at the hospital as “in need of improvement”.

Staffing ratios frequently fell below the standards required to meet patients’ needs, and indeed those set out by NICE guidelines. Whilst hospital authorities were quick to respond when these concerns were highlighted, the CQC still deemed failures to have impacted negatively on patient safety. This issue was compounded by inadequate staff training, deemed by the CQC to have arisen as a result of inadequate safeguarding processes put in place by hospital authorities.

Back in 2013, we reported on the failings of several Essex hospitals – one of which was Southend Hospital – and in June 2014 Southend Hospital was singled-out as having one of the worst A & E departments in the country.

Concerns were also raised in relation to the frequency of serious incidents at the hospital, with the ophthalmology department alone recording 16 during the period examined. What’s more, despite these incidents being accurately recorded, there was limited evidence of procedural and personal lessons being learned, and subsequently little prospect of improved patient safety at the hospital. This may in part have been due to the inconsistent nature of investigations into such incidents, which followed different procedural templates, rarely remained “robust” in their approach and frequently failed to identify key learning points.

Staff at the hospital were also frequently found to be failing to meet their “Duty of Candour” to patients. Essentially, this relates to a policy of openness and apology when failures take place, with patients kept informed and fully supported in such instances. Whilst staff understood the nature of their duties in this respect, few had access to up-to-date literature on the topic and several patients did not receive adequate responses when care fell below acceptable standards. Record-keeping in regards to this issue was also marked as an area of concern, particularly for medical directors.

The CQC also concluded that more clinical input must be put into decisions to cancel operations, and that the trust must invest more effort into clearing the backlog of patients currently on the waiting list for follow-up appointments in in ophthalmology and respiratory services.

One area of particular concern related to the need for better record-keeping in relation to the temperatures of medicine storage rooms. Concerns were raised surrounding whether or not medicines were stored at the correct temperatures, and as such could remain effective or indeed safe.

Whilst the CQC report acknowledges general improvement in care standards at the hospital since their last evaluation, patient safety remains compromised across a number of fields.

Commenting on the report, Jason Brady, clinical negligence solicitor at Essex based law firm Blackwater Law, said:
“Whilst Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust appears to have made improvements, it seems patients are still at risk of receiving sub-standard care and the potential for medical negligence still exists, particularly in departments where there are staffing issues.

“It is also very disappointing to hear of the current reporting practices that fail to provide for effective organisational learning where mistakes are made. Without rigorously investigating, reporting and learning from mistakes, instances of clinical negligence will continue to occur and patients will continue to needlessly suffer as a result. Any instance of avoidable clinical negligence is a tragedy for the patient involved and their family.”

If you or someone close to you has been impacted by substandard care at Southend Hospital, or any other hospital, you may be entitled to seek clinical negligence compensation to cover any on-going care needs, incurred expenses and compensation for pain and suffering.

Contact Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors in Essex today on 0800 083 5500 today and receive free initial advice and support before deciding whether to seek recompense. You will speak with a specialist clinical negligence solicitor based in Essex, who will give you expert, free medical negligence claim advice.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

What is Cerebral Palsy, and How Can It Affect Your Child

Cerebral Palsy is the collective term for a wide range of neurological conditions that can afflict a child in the build up to, during or immediately after birth. They relate specifically to the brain and nervous system and have lasting implications on the victim’s ability to coordinate movement, as well as in some cases perform communicative or cognitive tasks. Although appropriate treatment can help victims and their family manage the symptoms of cerebral palsy, there is no known cure.

Main Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are three main categories of Cerebral Palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy occurs in approximately 75-88% of victims, and relates specifically to restricted movement owing to overly stiff or tight muscle tone. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy afflicts around 15% of victims, and refers to a multitude of uncontrollable, sustained and / or involuntary movements as muscles struggle to loosen from a state of stiffness or contraction. Ataxic cerebral palsy is rarer and relates to the inability to accurately and effectively activate the correct muscle patterns during movement, resulting in poor balance and / or spatial awareness. The reality though is that most victims of Cerebral Palsy suffer a mixed form of the condition comprised of two or even all of the aforementioned manifestations.

A wide range of factors can contribute to a child developing cerebral palsy, including infections or complications during pregnancy or birth, genetic mutations relating to the child’s neurological development, internal bleeding of the child’s brain, restriction of oxygen supply to the foetus, or in very rare cases; hereditary acquisition.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Symptoms typically appear by the age of about 3, vary in terms of severity from case to case, and can come with associated conditions such as frequent fits / seizures and problems controlling drooling or swallowing (known as Dysphagia). Victims may also struggle to speak and display some learning difficulties, although it’s thought that raw intelligence is not affected by the condition.

Coping with Cerebral Palsy

Families of those affected by the condition must often bear a life-long commitment to caring for the victim, and although some suffer only minor difficulties, many are severely disabled, requiring constant care and supervision. This can take a significant toll on the mental, physical and financial health of all those involved, and as a result groups like can play a vital role in supporting families. This can come in the form of advice, provision of important contacts and in some cases help in securing appropriate legal counsel for the pursuit of cerebral palsy compensation claims. This is applicable where medical professionals might reasonably be judged as being at fault for affliction of a child with the condition.

Cerebral Palsy is not thought to limit life expectancy in its own right, as the affected areas of the brain and neurological system remain unchanged. However, a life spent battling the symptoms of the condition can cause them to worsen, making it ever more important that affected families receive the support they deserve.

Blackwater Law are Here for You

Blackwater Law has clinical negligence solicitors specialising in birthing injury compensation claims, assisting families across the country in seeking compensation for injury or illness afflicted during or after birth by medical error.

For free intimal advice from a specialist clinical negligence lawyer, call Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors toady on 0800 083 5500.

Legal 500 Recognise Blackwater Law as Leading Medical Negligence Solcitors

Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors have this month been independently recognised as a leading firm of medical negligence compensation solicitors by the Legal 500.

The team at Blackwater Law has been ranked by The Legal 500 – an independent directory of the country’s leading law firms – as one of the leading teams of medical negligence solicitors in the South East.

Commenting on the news, Jason Brady, clinical negligence solicitor and Partner at Blackwater Law said:

“We are very pleased that the team at Blackwater Law have been recognised as specialists in the field of clinical negligence compensation claims by the Legal 500. This ranking recognises the expertise and experience of our senior solicitors as well as the complex nature and significant value of many of the medical negligence cases we are involved with here at Blackwater Law.

“Clients of Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors can be confident the specialist advice and representation they receive from their clinical negligence solicitor is of the highest standard.”

Blackwater Law has a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors that advise and represent clients in relation to wide range of serious cases, where it is suspected medical professionals have been negligent in the delivery of care. This includes advising in relation to misdiagnosis of cancer and late diagnosis of cancer; surgical errors; birthing injuries such as cerebral palsy; and dental negligence compensation claims.

Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors in Essex advise and represent clients across the country. The team offers free initial advice to anyone that suspects the care they have received was negligent.

Welsh NHS is Failing to Meet Cancer Treatment Targets

Data released by Cancer Research UK in June 2016 indicates that the Welsh NHS is failing to meet cancer treatment targets and is failing to adequately address the challenges of late cancer diagnosis and care. In a comprehensive report into how the Welsh NHS are dealing with cancer treatment targets, the charity makes a number of urgent recommendations for improvement and implores the Welsh government to change its attitudes to the complex issue.

Cancer Treatment Targets Consistently Missed

Key findings in the report point to the fact that cancer treatment waiting times targets – which effectively gauge the efficiency of treatment centres in meeting increased demand – have consistently been missed across the country. The Welsh NHS’s own targets for patients given an urgent cancer treatment referral state that 95% should begin treatment within 62 days – a figure that has not been met since 2008, with performance in the last quarter of 2015 rated at just 83.7%. Of similar concern, targets for patients referred via the non-urgent route state that 98% should begin treatment within 31 days, a figure that has not been achieved since 2014, although 2015’s final quarter performance was close to this, at 97.5%.

The charity also found that patients are too often left waiting excessive periods for the results of cancer diagnosis tests; which is particularly worrying considering the risks associated with the effect that delayed cancer diagnosis has on patient mortality. Other risk factors include the fact that the availability of radiotherapy equipment is “patchy”, and access too often dependant on where in Wales a patient resides.

Cancer Research UK Urges Rethink on Individual Patient Funding Requests

The report suggests an entirely new strategy for dealing with the increased strain placed on cancer services in Wales during recent years. Cancer Research UK urges the Welsh NHS to reconsider a 2014 decision not to introduce a national decision-making panel to preside over Individual Patient Funding Requests and methods to increase access to cutting edge treatment programs. The charity also recommends an entirely fresh approach to commissioning specialist treatments like radiotherapy, chemotherapy and low-volume surgery, with an aim to improve coordination and availability nationwide. Concerns are also raised in relation to record-keeping on treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with a greater need for comprehensive, up-to-date figures so as to effectively contribute to the annual cancer report.

19,000 New Cancer Diagnoses Every Year

The Welsh NHS is failing to meet cancer treatment targets, and the situtaion is likely to get worse. Wales now faces up to 19,000 new cancer diagnoses every year, a figure up almost 14% in the decade leading up to 2014. Cancer Research UK’s report is particularly poignant in light of this, with key health officials recognising the need to tackle the problems associated with delayed diagnosis of cancer in the country.

Clinical Director of the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff; Tom Crosby issued the following statement in relation to the report:

“…We will need to better raise awareness of cancer, diagnose it earlier, ensure timely access to effective treatment and even better support for patients through and beyond that treatment. By taking this opportunity we can transform patient outcomes and experience.”

Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive Sir Harpal Kumar is also quoted as saying:

“This report paints a worrying picture, from cancer experts, of NHS cancer services in Wales reaching a tipping point.”

Our Thoughts on the Findings

Commenting on the report, Christopher Livingston, clinical negligence lawyer at Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors, said:

“This report into the state of cancer diagnoses and care in Wales is worrying, in particular the issues of delayed cancer test results and the long-term failure to meet targets relating to an urgent referral to see a cancer specialist and that appointment taking place. This clearly introduces unnecessary delays into cancer diagnosis and treatment that would worry the patient and their family.”

If you or someone you love has suffered as a result of delayed or misdiagnosis of cancer, in Wales or England, you may be entitled to medical negligence compensation. Contact Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors today for free initial advice. Call 0800 083 5500 and speak to a specialist today.

Consequences of Sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury

The consequences of sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are well documented amongst UK patients, with such injuries being the most common cause of death and disability in people aged 1-40 years old. Even patients that survive a brain injury and can incur long-lasting and severe cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties that permanently change the course of their life due to the brain damage. As a result, it’s unsurprising that where the patient sustains such a head injury in an accident that was no fault of their own, many choose to pursue brain injury compensation for brain damage in order to secure the financial and specialist care they may need both now and in the future.

Whilst many of the possible consequences of sustaining a traumatic brain injury are well known, it remains difficult to assess just how badly a brain injury will affect any given patient, or to explain why some are more adversely affected than others. When attempting to determine such matters, doctors usually look at how serious the original injury was, or indeed how frequently it was sustained. Other factors can include the precise area of the brain affected and the age of the patient at the time of injury. Those who suffer a TBI at a young age are more prone to suffer long-lasting impairments in brain development, and this in turn can adversely affect their ability to find employment, attain any significant degree of independence or maintain meaningful relationships.

What’s more, simply because a patient survives the initial post-injury period does not mean they will go on to a normal lifespan. Medical studies have now linked an elevated risk of death to serious brain injury patients several years after the incident. One such study found that as many as 40% of TBI patients died within 13 years of sustaining their injury, with those aged 15-54 incurring a mortality rate nearly 8 times greater than population average during that timeframe. Studies have also shown comparatively little difference in terms of recovery prospects between those judged to have sustained relatively mild injuries and those with moderate to severe injuries. Differences between these groups observed in the years immediately following injury diminish over time to the point where they are no longer significant.

Traumatic brain injuries have also been linked to mental health problems such as substance abuse later in life. Whilst some of this might be explained by way of those under the influence of alcohol or drugs being more likely to incur a serious brain injury, it is equally true that those who sustain TBIs are shown to be twice as likely to develop a diagnosable psychiatric disorder later in life. Even those whose injuries are judged to be relatively minor suffer these elevated risks, with the effects prominent throughout adult life.

Given the incredibly serious consequences of sustaining a traumatic brain injury, receiving the proper care and treatment is crucial to helping the patient build a life after the injury. The physical, emotional and financial challenges of providing such care can however, prove insurmountable for many families. This is particularly distressing for those who were injured in an accident that was not their fault, such as an accident at work, car accident or injury at birth. Families in this position are encouraged to make contact with a solicitor specialising in head injury compensation claims.

Blackwater Law Solicitors in Essex has a team of expert personal injury lawyers specialising in advising clients on head injury and brain compensation cases. Our specialist team acts for clients across England and Wales.
Contact Blackwater Law today for free initial advice from a specialist solicitor. Call 0800 083 5500. All accepted claims for head and brain injury compensation are dealt with on a “no win, no fee” basis.