DT v Derbyshire Community Health Services

The claim was brought by the Executor of the Estate of the deceased, following an assault upon the deceased by another patient while he was a patient in the Defendant Trust’s hospital.

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There was a subsequent failure of medical staff to assess the injuries sustained in the assault, leading to a delayed diagnosis of a fracture of the neck of the femur and thereafter delay in treating the same.

Following the eventual diagnosis of the fracture, the deceased was transferred to another hospital where he underwent a hip replacement, however developed bronchopneumonia and died several weeks later.

Instructions were received when the initial Inquest into the death was adjourned by the Coroner to enable the deceased’s family to obtain legal representation, allow further enquiries to be made and for a Pre- Inquest Review to take place.

The Inquest was not relisted for some time, leading to delays in the claim. The third anniversary of the deceased’s death approached, and protective proceedings were issued.

At the final Inquest, the Coroner made a finding that the deceased’s cause of death was due to bronchopneumonia, contributed to by multiple co-morbidities, predominantly noted to be a fractured femur and trauma.


The Coroner was unimpressed by witness evidence given on behalf of the Defendant Trust. He determined that had the assailant (a fellow patient of the deceased) not had access to the deceased’s room or had the levels of observation been sufficient then on balance, the assault would not have taken place, the fracture and bronchopneumonia would not have occurred, and the deceased would not have died when he did. The Coroner found as a consequence that the deceased’s death was contributed to by neglect.


The financial value of the claim was limited by the fact of the deceased’s age and other pre-existing medical conditions. At the inquest Counsel for the Defendant Trust had attempted to establish that the bronchopneumonia suffered by the deceased was due to other factors, without success.

Following the Inquest, a medical report was obtained from an Orthopaedic surgeon and court proceedings were served and then stayed to allow the Defendant to consider its position.

No Defence was filed as a consequence and no admissions were made by the Defendant. However, an initial settlement offer of £25,000.00 was received from the Defendant.

The Claimant made a counter-offer in the sum of £32,000.00 and the claim was ultimately settled in the sum of £30,000.00.

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