Yeovil Hospital Took DNA Without Consent

Yeovil Hospital Took DNA Without Consent

Yeovil District Hospital Pays £3,000 in Compensation for DNA Consent Failure

Yeovil District Hospital has paid £3,000 in compensation to Stuart Brown, 57, after admitting a breach in protocol regarding the consent process for taking his DNA. The incident occurred while Mr. Brown was in a coma due to a severe case of Covid-19.

Background of the Incident

In November 2021, Stuart Brown was admitted to Yeovil District Hospital's intensive care unit after contracting Covid-19. While he was in a coma, the hospital took his genetic data for the GenOMMIC research study without obtaining his informed consent. The GenOMMIC study is a UK-wide project aimed at identifying genetic factors that influence outcomes in critical illness among more than 23,000 adults.

Consent Protocol Breach

The Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees Yeovil District Hospital, acknowledged that there was a "deviation from protocol" in obtaining consent from seven patients, including Mr. Brown. Although the hospital maintains that patients and their families were informed about the study, the required procedures for securing proper consent were not followed.

While Mr. Brown was unconscious, the hospital contacted his wife, Annette, to obtain consent on his behalf. However, Mr. Brown later complained that his genetic data was taken without his informed consent, leading to a lengthy battle for recognition and compensation.

Patient's Concerns and Response

Mr. Brown expressed frustration over the lack of proper consent and the hospital's handling of the issue. "What upsets me is I have spent 18 months [working on this]. I have tried with regulatory authorities, I have tried with the hospital, GenOMMIC to say 'look is it not reasonable to have an audit to find out how wide this problem is?' But I have been unsuccessful in doing that," he said.

Through a Freedom of Information request, Mr. Brown discovered that 70 patients at Yeovil District Hospital participated in the GenOMMIC study, and 23,400 patients were involved across the UK. The hospital confirmed that in seven cases, including Mr. Brown's, DNA was taken with deviations from the established consent protocol.

Hospital's Legal Response

A letter from a hospital solicitor addressed Mr. Brown's complaint, stating: "As to what harm you have suffered as a result of your DNA being taken and included in the study however, this appears to be limited to the physical act of taking the blood sample without consent." The solicitor also dismissed Mr. Brown's claim of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, arguing that there was no evidence linking the condition to the unauthorized DNA collection.

The letter concluded: "While our [hospital] trust client is very sorry that there were deviations from the protocols for taking consent, our investigations find that liability is not established."

Compensation Settlement

Despite the trust's position, Mr. Brown accepted £3,000 in compensation for the breach in protocol. The Somerset NHS Foundation Trust's admission of the error highlights the importance of adhering to consent procedures, especially in sensitive medical research involving patients in critical conditions.

This case underscores the need for rigorous compliance with consent protocols to protect patient rights and maintain trust in medical research practices.

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