Family wins payout following hospital death

By Laura Maltby Thursday 31 January 2013 Updated: 01/02 14:29

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Buy photos » Luigi Belcuore and wife Penny. Luigi died on the operating table during a clinical trial. (s)

THE FAMILY of a man who died taking part in a medical trial has been awarded an undisclosed sum in compensation.

Luigi Belcuore, a father-of-three from Morton Bagot, near Wootton Wawen, died at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Shropshire after surgeon Professor James Richardson failed to follow guidelines on how to use specialist equipment.

Mr Belcuore had a cartilage problem in his left knee and agreed to take part in a clinical trial, which involved applying stem cells taken from his cartilage to damaged areas in an attempt to help it regenerate.

An inquest at Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court in 2011 ruled the unauthorised procedure contributed to the 43-year-old's death.

During the knee operation Prof Richardson adapted a spray gun by attaching a needle in an attempt to close the wound but this caused an air bubble which stopped the company manager's heart and he died on the operating table in October 2009.

His widow Penny, who discovered she was pregnant just weeks after Mr Balcuore's death, spoke after the compensation hearing at Birmingham High Court saying it had been 'a long slog' but she was relieved it had finally come to an end and was looking forward to seeing some consequence to the surgeon's actions.

Fighting back tears, she said: "It makes me so sad a lot of the time to know that my son will miss out on the most wonderful dad. He was the most wonderful man and that surgeon took away my best friend."

And Victoria Blankstone from solicitors Irwin Mitchell who represented the family, said: "While Penny is relieved the approval hearing means their three young children will be properly provided for financially, nothing can turn back the clock and the fact remains Louis' death was the most appalling and needless tragedy."

In a statement, the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "The trust made an early admission of liability and the parties' lawyers have been working together to achieve settlement which has now been approved by the court.

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

The General Medical Council is currently investigating allegations Prof Richardson failed to provide good clinical care to his patient.

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