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Damages for brain-damaged man following misdiagnosis

Clinical negligence lawyers settle claim for a young man who suffered brain damage when an infection was missed

Brain damage was caused by missed infection

5 September 2014

A man  who suffered a stroke and serious brain damage after an infection was left undiagnosed by a hospital for five months has been awarded substantial damages. 

The man known only as Jamie began to feel generally unwell and lethargic, with worsening symptoms including headaches, abdominal pain, weight loss, and blurred vision. He attended his GP who believed he was suffering from anxiety and prescribed Citalopram. 

Three weeks later Jamie started complaining of numbness in his left arm and tingling in his lips, and feeling increasingly worse. 

He attended Accident & Emergency suffering palpitations with a rapid pulse. The triage nurse recorded in the notes that he had been unwell for several months. 

A psychiatric nurse then saw Jamie, and the history of general malaise and lethargy was repeated, together with dramatic weight loss. An impression of increased anxiety was recorded, with possible side effects from the Citalopram. 

Despite his symptoms, Jamie’s temperature was not measured at any point and he was not assessed or examined by a doctor throughout the admission. 

He was then discharged from the hospital without further review or cardio-vascular assessment to ensure that his heart rate had settled to within a normal range and his palpitations had subsided. 

Following the discharge, Jamie continued to suffer from general malaise, with blurred vision, abdominal pains, vomiting, and pins and needles. Again, these symptoms were attributed to anxiety. 

One month later his condition acutely deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital after collapsing with slurred speech, headache, and right arm weakness. He suffered a severe stroke, which caused him permanent brain damage. 

Investigations revealed that Jamie had developed bacterial endocarditis approximately five months previously, which accounted for his ongoing symptoms and led to his multiple medical attendances. 

The untreated endocarditis weakened the heart, causing an aneurism which subsequently ruptured and resulted in his stroke. 

Jamie’s parents instructed Suzanne White in the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day to pursue a claim in negligence against the Trust. With the help of expert medical advice, Suzanne and her team were able to settle the case and the High Court approved the settlement. 

The damages will ensure that Jamie’s immediate and future needs are adequately provided for and that he is able, as far as possible, to move forward with his life. 

Suzanne White from the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day said:

“This young client has been left severely brain damaged, will not be able to work again, and is unlikely to ever return to independent living. 

“It is unacceptable that the Trust dismissed his very concerning symptoms and discharged him without further investigation. 

“Given his presentation, he should have been referred immediately to a doctor when he attended Accident & Emergency and a cardio-vascular assessment should have been undertaken”. 

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