Royal Free pays compensation over wrong MRI

By Jonathan Kalmus, January 14, 2010

Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital has paid £1,000 to the son of a woman who died a year ago after wrongly advising that a surgical post-mortem was the only available option — rather than an non-invasive MRI scan which does not breach halachah.

Brian Gedalla says he felt let down by the Royal Free — for which his mother Betty was a volunteer for 32 years — in the aftermath of her unexpected death in December 2008.

“All we wanted was the proper respect for my mother. Myself and my brother went though emotional hell meeting obstacles at every stage. My purpose now is simply that people should be aware that the Royal Free can’t say MRI doesn’t exist.”

It was only after pressure from Mr Gedalla that the hospital eventually agreed to an MRI scan.

In a letter to Mr Gedalla, the Royal Free Trust claimed consultants were not “aware of the possibility of undertaking a MRI in place of a full post-mortem” and pledged to highlight the option to clinical staff. In a later statement, the Royal Free Trust said the family had been reimbursed for the MRI because “the trust staff’s lack of knowledge of these issues clearly contributed to the distress and grief of a family at a very difficult time”.

As we reported last week, the United Synagogue is prepared to pay up to £1,700 for MRI scans on members at a potential annual cost of £100,000. Head of burials Melvyn Hartog now says that partial funding from councils may be sought as local authorities save around £150 in coroner’s fees when families pay privately for MRI.

He stressed that in normal circumstances, hospitals would not be expected to pick up the bill for MRIs.

Last updated: 4:15pm, January 14 2010