Research by the National Confidential Inquiry into Patient Outcome suggests that delays in diagnosing brain haemorrhages are causing avoidable harm because the condition can cause significant and life long disability explains Clinical Negligence Solicitor Paul Sankey.
Haemorrhages can occur when patients develop aneurysms as a result of thinning of artery walls. Just as a balloon becomes thin when inflated it can burst, the artery wall can balloon out, eventually bursting and causing bleeding into the brain.
There are a number of ways of managing the condition including using medication to lower blood pressure and carrying out ‘minimally invasive’ procedures. Such procedures involve passing a catheter through arteries elsewhere in the body and passing them into the cerebral arteries to coil or clip an aneurysm and prevent further bleeding.
Early management is important. The damage caused by a bleed cannot be undone but treatment is important to prevent further, potentially more severe bleeding. This means that it is crucial to recognise an early bleed which may be the first of several. The symptoms of a bleed can include very severe headache, neck pain and weakness down one side of the body.
Our experience of Brain Injuries suggests that mistakes can be made by GPs or Accident and Emergency doctors who fail to recognise these initial signs. Patients should undergo scanning as soon as possible to identify the bleed and then be referred to Neurosurgeons to repair the aneurysm. We have acted for a number of seriously injured patients whose early warning bleed was ignored by doctors and followed a few days later by a much more serious and in some cases catastrophic bleeds. Some of these patients are left brain damaged, severely disabled, needing 24 hour care and appropriate alternative accommodation. This is a condition which ruins people’s lives and is a real concern if delays are taking place and leading to avoidable injury as both recent research and our own experience suggests.
It is important therefore that both the government and the NHS more generally take note of this important research by the National Confidential Inquiry into Patient Outcome. Patients concerned that they or their relatives may have haemorrhaged as a result of negligent care are welcome to consult our specialist solicitors.