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£250,000 Compensation Paid for Delayed Medical Diagnosis

09 July 2014

One Sunday morning in 2011 Mr Y woke up and as part of his early morning routine was brushing his teeth in the downstairs bathroom at his property. He gagged and felt a sudden rush of blood to his head.

He then lost consciousness for a period of time and woke up sat in the shower area with his legs out in front of him. He banged his tooth during the fall. He was taken away by ambulance to Northwick Park Hospital. 

His history was that he had a sudden onset headache and appeared to have lost consciousness. He was detained in A&E for two hours. His blood pressure was recorded to be 160/89 but his blood pressure taken at home by the ambulance crew was more than 100 (bottom line figure). He vomited at hospital and it was believed that he was going to have a CT head scan but this was not undertaken. He was discharged, apparently still suffering with a headache and was told to come back if the headache did not settle down.
The deceased returned home and was still unwell. He advised that he was going to try and sleep it off.  The next morning he still had a pounding headache and went to see his GP. His GP indicated that he believed it to be a migraine and the patient was describing the pain as the worst headache he had ever had. By this stage he had also vomited some more. He was advised by his GP that he should go back to A&E. 
On day three the deceased went back to A&E complaining of his severe headache and vomiting. He was again advised that it was not a serious matter and was discharged.
The following day the deceased went back to his GP and also a family member called the GP and indicated she thought it could be a bleed on the brain. This family member is a qualified Nurse.
The following day the deceased went to see a Dr S at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow. He gave a history and Dr S – a Neurologist advised that he would arrange for a CT, angiogram and MRI scan. The following day there was also left leg/left arm weakness. On this day the deceased was transferred to Charing Cross Hospital where an MRI scan confirmed that there was a subarachnoid haemorrhage. There appeared to be vasospasms which meant that there was no possibility of coiling or clipping the bleed.
Due to the ongoing vasospasms, coiling (a procedure to stop the bleeding) could not be performed until  29th March 2011. Mr Y remained in hospital until 12th April and was being moved from one ward to another when he suffered a pulmonary embolism (PE) and died within a very short space of time. A large DVT had developed during his prolonged period of immobility and this had travelled round his bloodstream to his lung. The deceased left a widow and three children.
Medical evidence was initially obtained in relation to breach of duty from a Neurosurgeon and an A&E Consultant. Following receipt of this evidence a conference was held with Counsel and work began in the formulation of the Pre-Action Protocol Letter of Claim. Following conference with Counsel further breach of duty evidence was obtained from Consultant General & Chest Physician upon receipt of which the Pre-Action Protocol Letter of Claim was finalised and sent. It was alleged that there was a negligent delay in diagnosis of the sub arachnoid haemorrhage and that if it had been diagnosed earlier then the deceased would have been immobilised for 18 days less than he actually was. It was further alleged that the additional (negligently caused) period of immobility was responsible for causing/contributing to the onset of the DVT/ PE.
The Defendant’s solicitors admitted breach of duty but they disputed causation on the basis that the claimant would not be able to prove that the additional 18 days of immobility caused or contributed to the development of the DVT/pulmonary embolism which led to the death of the deceased. On this basis the Defendants made a Part 36 offer to settle the claim in the sum of £5,000.00 which was rejected by the claimant. Subsequently, a further conference was held with Counsel and Mr M, chest physician, who maintained his position in relation to causation/breach of duty. 
Negotiations with the Defendant proved fruitless and the claim was issued in the High Court in 2014. Following service of proceedings initially an Acknowledgement of Service was filed by the Defendant indicating that they were intending to defend the claim, however, following further discussion a Notice of Admission was made.
Shortly thereafter the Defendant made an increased Part 36 offer to settle the claim in the sum of £250,000.00 which the Claimant accepted in full and final settlement of the claim.

James Bell is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

If you feel that you or a member of your family may have a claim for brain injury compensation or Hospital Neglligence, contact Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation and we'll be happy to help you.

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