There are several ways that an adult can suffer a brain injury as a result of medical negligence. However, the two most common causes are delays in diagnosis and treatment of strokes and a failure or delay in diagnosing meningitis.
Strokes are a common cause of adult brain injury, particular among the elderly, although no particular age group is completely immune from suffering a stroke. Strokes occur when there is a blockage in the supply of blood to the brain, or when there is bleeding into the brain from a damaged blood vessel (haemorrhage).
Early detection of strokes has been the subject of a publicity drive from the NHS, with their FAST slogan intended to assist members of the public in identifying early symptoms. The type of treatment required depends upon the cause of the stroke.
However, brain injury compensation claims can arise where a stroke is misdiagnosed as a lesser condition, if appropriate tests such as CT or MRI scans are not carried out or if appropriate medication is not administered.
The effects of negligent stoke treatment are often severe. Starving the brain of oxygen can lead to permanent paralysis and brain injury.
Meningitis is a comparatively rare condition with an estimated 3,300 cases recorded by the Meningitis Research Foundation. Whilst this represents a very small minority of the population, one in ten of these cases result in fatality and 25% of those who survive are left with some form of permanent disability.
Meningitis is more often misdiagnosed in children than adults (most likely due to difficulty in articulating symptoms), however early diagnosis is often difficult in adults too because the condition initially presents like many bacterial infections with fever, high temperature, vomiting and headaches.
As with any brain injury, early treatment is crucial and in the case of meningitis this is relatively straightforward. Your GP should send you to Hospital immediately so that intravenous antibiotics can be administered and specialist care provided. Delay in treating meningitis can have devastating consequences such as deafness, blindness, or a loss of taste as well as permanent paralysis or even death.
Due to the extremely serious nature of brain injuries, claims arising from failures in this area can often attract damages of over £5,000,000. An individual who has suffered a brain injury may require round the clock nursing care, and specialist adaptations to their home as a result of a disability.
Our clinical negligence team are highly experienced in dealing with significant and complex claims arising from brain injury and will not only vigorously pursue compensation but also a demand a full explanation as to what occurred.
CLAIMANT v ABERTAWE BRO MORGANNWG UNIVERSITY NHS TRUST
The Claimant was diagnosed as having unstable angina and told he would require surgery. The Claimant was admitted to Morriston hospital where it was confirmed that he required a combined coronary artery bypass and carotid operation.
The Claimant was admitted for surgery and during the operation he suffered a stroke and was subsequently admitted to Intensive Care. The Claimant suffered severe diffuse cerebral damage during the surgery from which he never recovered. It was alleged that the Defendant was negligent in that the Anaesthetist failed to observe or to heed three key monitors of airway pressure, expired carbon dioxide and oxygen saturation, all of which were showing gross abnormalities, before the changes in blood pressure and heart rate developed. They failed to recognise from these abnormalities that disconnection from the ventilator had occurred. The disconnection should have been recognised and remedied promptly, before brain damage occurred. The faulty connection to the ventilator was not recognised and the Claimant became hypoxic and suffered cardiac arrest and severe brain damage.
Liability and causation were in dispute throughout the claim which subsequently settled following negotiations at £300,000 damages, plus payment of costs. Regrettably the Claimant passed away in July 2011, the claim being brought on behalf of his estate for the Deceased’s pain and suffering prior to death, expenses, bereavement and a substantial care claim.