4 September 2007
K was born in 1987. Immediately after his birth he suffered a brain haemorrhage
, from which he made a good recovery. He was diagnosed with bilateral hearing impairment at the age of one but developed otherwise as a normal and healthy boy, making normal progress at school.
In late 1998 K began to develop some non-specific symptoms of occasional headache, sickness and lacking in energy. These culminated in a severe headache that started on 6th February 1999 and persisted, such that on 8th February 1999 his general practitioner referred him to his local hospital. K underwent a CT scan on 9th February 1999 and acute hydrocephalus
was diagnosed. K was urgently referred on to Southampton Hospital, where he was admitted later that day.
On 10th February 1999 K underwent a complex neurosurgical procedure (known as a third ventriculostomy
) to relieve the acute hydrocephalus, during which catastrophic bleeding occurred when an instrument damaged a branch of the basilar artery. The bleeding was eventually brought under control but K suffered a stormy post-operative course, with a revision of the external ventricular drain on 18th February 1999, infection of the cerebrospinal fluid (ventriculitis), grand mal seizures, the need for ventilation and a further operation on 25th February 1999 to change the drain.
Sadly this further operation resulted in the tunnelling device perforating K's skull leading to further heavy bleeding and the development of a massive collection of blood (subdural haematoma
) in K's head, displacing his brain. A left craniotomy (an incision made in the skull) was performed, in the course of which there was further heavy bleeding, which was initially eventually brought under control with packing. However, further bleeding occurred and a second craniotomy was performed to evacuate the persisting haematoma.
K suffered with ventriculitis for the second time and underwent various procedures over the ensuing weeks, including drain changes and a tracheostomy. K was eventually transferred out of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit on 22nd March 1999 and was returned to his local hospital on 10th June 1999, after nearly 4 months in hospital.
As a consequence of the haemorrhages, K suffered considerable brain damage resulting in a right hemiplegia, significant visual impairment due to both optic nerve and occipital cortical damage, subtle neurocognitive and memory dysfunction, and a seizure disorder. As a consequence, K will always need care and assistance and will never be capable of employment.
Liability was disputed by Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust
. Leigh Day argued that the haemorrhages on 10th February 1999 and 25th February 1999 should not have occurred and that, had the haemorrhages been avoided, all the complications and disabilities that followed would have been avoided.
The claim was successfully settled for a considerable sum.
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