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Failure to Appropriately Administer UVB Phototherapy with the Appropriate Standard of Care and Skill

Failure to Appropriately Administer UVB Phototherapy with the Appropriate Standard of Care and Skill

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 therapy with the appropriate standard of care and skill.

This is the second claim that we have recently successfully pursued against Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for an inappropriate use of UV Phototherapy.

Essentially, the Client (C) complained that a nurse had caused her to be inappropriately positioned for UV lamp phototherapy and that, as a result, she had suffered burns.


C had suffered psoriasis since childhood. It affected most of her body and, therefore, she had undergone a variety of treatments for her psoriasis.

She had received UVB Phototherapy around 15 years previously, and it had been found to be an effective treatment.

In February 2013, C had attended her GP Practice complaining of continuing problems with psoriasis. She was prescribed a medicated cream but, when that was not effective, she returned to the GP practice and was referred for UVB Phototherapy.

C met with a Consultant Dermatologist in April 2013 at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. Her symptoms were discussed and it was noted that she had previously responded well to UVB Phototherapy. Phototherapy commenced in August 2014.

She underwent 3 sessions of UV Phototherapy every week at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. During these sessions, C always stood in the same position. This involved her holding a visor over her face. Significantly, her positioning meant that an area on both of her forehands was not exposed to UV light.

C attended the sessions as required. The initial length of exposure was approximately 10 second long but the dosage (i.e. length of each exposure) was gradually increased at each session.

The plan was to increase the dosage, in line with her increasing tolerance of UV exposure.

C reported that following each session, her skin got slightly burned that feeling usually subsiding after a few days. She understood that to be normal. Before each treatment, C reported that the Phototherapist took steps to check whether she was stood appropriately.

In October 2014, C attended an appointment for UVB Phototherapy treatment. Before the treatment began, the Phototherapist identified that her forehead was becoming red and, therefore, to avoid C suffering burns, she asked our her to utilise a fixed facial guard (rather like a helmet) rather than make use of a hand held visor.

As a result of the change in headwear, C was stood in a different manner when receiving the treatment. The helmet was placed onto our C’s head meaning that she did not have to hold it up to her face. As a result, C had her arms by her side, rather than lifted to her head. An area of her arms, previously hidden from the UV light, was therefore newly exposed.

C reported that the change in stance would have been obvious to the Phototherapist. She even recalled that the Phototherapist looked at her through a viewing glass before commencing the treatment. C understood that she had followed all instructions and the Phototherapist had not expressed any concern about the position or change.

Approximately 1 hour after the treatment, C reports that her arms became extremely painful and her skin started to burn and peel.

On the following day, C attended Chelsea & Westminster seeking assistance for the burns. She was examined and prescribed creams.

C reported that she did not recover from the burns to her arms for 2 ½ - 3 weeks. She described the pain she suffered as severe and explained that she had to wear bandages during the recovery period, which were changed at hospital on several occasions.

Dissatisfied with the situation, C instructed our John Lowther to investigate a potential Claim for damages.

Mr Lowther obtained medical records and prepared a witness statement. He identified useful medical records and prepared a Letter of Claim setting out our C’s allegations.

Subsequently, the Defendant accepted C’s settlement proposals. The Claim was settled within a year of C entering into a Conditional Fee Agreement enabling us to investigate her allegations.

Please contact our John Lowther on 0191 5666 500 or email if you would like to discuss a medical negligence claim concerning an equipment failure or a situation whereby a clinician has acted with insufficient care and skill. Should you have suffered burns as a result of UV Phototherapy, please contact us.

If you would prefer, you can complete our short enquiry form and one of our medical negligence Solicitors will be in touch with you.