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Failure to administer UVB phototherapy with the appropriate standard of care and skill

Failure to administer UVB phototherapy with the appropriate standard of care and skill

£3,500 compensation was recovered in a claim against Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Damages were obtained for a Client who had suffered as a result of a failure by Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to properly administer UVB phototherapy with the appropriate standard of care and skill.

Essentially, the Client had been put under a UV lamp for phototherapy and received too large a dose because the timer broke and the nurse responsible had stepped out of the room.   The Client suffered burns and blistering as a result.


The Client has suffered from psoriasis for a number of years. His GP had referred him to a specialist at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital for further treatment. 

The specialist had prescribed narrow band UVB phototherapy treatment.   This involved the Client’s skin being exposed to UV lighting, emitted from a lamp.     The course of treatment recommended was for the Client to undergo the treatment 5 times a week over the course of 6 weeks.

Careful testing was undertaken to ensure that the Client would not have a severe adverse reaction to the UV light.

Upon his arrival at hospital, in September 2012, the Client attended Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and was advised that they were short staffed but that the treatment would go ahead anyway.   The nurse explained to the Client that he would receive a maximum of 17 seconds of UV lamp treatment.   The nurse explained that there was a timer on the lamp that would turn off after 17 seconds.

After the Client had been placed under the lamp, the nurse left the room to attend to other matters.    The Client was left in the room alone whilst having the treatment.

Unfortunately, the timer on the UV lamp had broken and the Client actually received 60 seconds of treatment.   The lamp was only turned off when the nurse came back into the room and turned it off manually.

Immediately following the treatment, the client was taken to a separate room where a specialist cream was applied to the skin.   The Client was then sent home and was not informed that he had been placed under the UV lamp for too long a period.

Throughout the course of the following day, the Client began to experience pain, suffer with abnormally red colouration to his skin, and felt that his skin temperature had risen.

The pain that the Client experienced worsened overnight, such that he was unable to move comfortably.   He had developed blisters across his body and these were particularly severe across his chest, abdomen and back.  He returned to hospital on the following day.

The nurse explained that he had received 60 rather than 17 seconds of UV phototherapy treatment on his previous attendance.   She explained that this was because the timer had broken.  He was referred to the Doctor for review.   

Nurses treated the Client’s blisters and applied specialist cream and gave him analgesics.    

Our Client continued to suffer pain and required further treatment with specialist cream and analgesics.  The problems with his skin did not resolve for around 2 weeks after the initial phototherapy treatment.

Successful claim for damages

Longden, Walker & Renney was instructed to investigate the claim.

Mr. Lowther obtained the medical records and prepared a witness statement.   He identified that the treating Doctor had recorded that the Client had been exposed to 60 seconds rather than the prescribed 17 seconds of phototherapy.    

Allegations were put to the Defendant in a letter of claim dated 5th February 2014.     Admissions followed and the Defendant subsequently accepted the Client’s out of Court settlement proposals.   

Please contact John Lowther on 0191 5666500 or email if you would like to discuss a medical negligence claim concerning an equipment failure or a situation whereby a medical clinician has acted with insufficient care and skill. If you would prefer, you can complete our short enquiry form and one of our medical negligence solicitors will be in touch with you.