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Successful settlement for Polish client with near fatal neurological illness

Two London hospitals fail to diagnose and treat a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis

Photo of CT scan: istock

6 July 2011

Frances Swaine, partner in the human rights department, has successfully settled a claim for a Polish client who suffered physical and mental disabilities in 2005 as a result of the failure of two London hospitals to diagnose and treat a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.  The client sustained a brain injury with significant neurological symptoms and is still experiencing difficulties.

Frances’ client, a 19 year old Polish national, was visiting the United Kingdom on holiday in 2005.  She went to an accident and emergency department with a bad headache and vomiting during her holiday.  She was given pain relief and discharged, with advice to return if she felt unwell or developed a temperature.  A week later she returned to hospital with the same symptoms, but also slurred speech and drowsiness.  Once again she was sent away.

Our client wanted to return to her family in Poland to seek medical attention there, but collapsed at the airport after having a seizure.  She was taken to a different hospital where she was assessed as fit to fly although no tests or investigations were carried out.  She remained in the UK and continued to suffer and, once again, attended the original hospital.  The accident and emergency staff interpreted her symptoms as indicative of mental illness and referred her for psychiatric assessment where she was diagnosed as suffering from tension headache and released.

Our client’s mother flew to the UK and took her back to hospital where her symptoms were finally taken seriously and a CT scan obtained.  This revealed that she had a subarachnoid haemorrhage and arteriovenous malformation.  She collapsed with a serious seizure and was transferred to a third hospital for treatment in intensive care.  Further tests led to a diagnosis of extensive cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.  Following lengthy in-patient rehabilitation she was transferred to a rehabilitation unit in Poland.

She can no longer walk unaided and has significant memory problems and has also lost some intellectual ability.  As our client is a Polish national with very little English it was necessary to have all documentation translated via an independent external translator and a translator was available for all discussions with the client. Expert reports were obtained and both Frances and our experts travelled to Poland to visit our client during the course of the case.

The defendant hospitals admitted liability and Frances obtained an interim payment to help our client manage financially whilst the case was still being settled.  Following full investigation of the case a settlement of over £1 million was agreed. 

Leigh Day and Polish clients

Lawyers in various departments of the firm have represented a number of Polish clients who have suffered personal injuries whilst in the UK.  We have represented Polish claimants and their families who have been injured or killed:

• In workplace accidents, including in factories or on building sites
• Whilst cycling to and from work, or while working as cycle couriers
• When involved in road traffic accidents, either as drivers or pedestrians
• As a result of a medical accident or clinical negligence


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