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Seven-figure compensation for woman following failure to diagnose a stroke

A medical negligence claim against West Middlesex Hospital for failure to identify that a woman had suffered a stroke has been settled

CT scan

29 May 2019

A 41- year old woman known only as L to protect her identity has settled her medical negligence claim against two NHS trusts who failed to diagnose and to treat appropriately a subarachnoid haemorrhage, or stroke, while she was a patient at West Middlesex Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital in December 2010 and January 2011.

L instructed medical negligence solicitor Suzanne White to act for her in her compensation claim.

L visited her GP with symptoms of nausea and blurred vision in 2010 together with headaches and some loss of hearing.  She underwent an MRI scan which was normal. 

Some months later L collapsed at home after complaining of a severe headache and became unresponsive.  Her husband called an ambulance and she was taken to the A&E Department of West Middlesex University Hospital. She underwent a cranial CT scan which was initially assessed as normal.  On further review of the scan L’s medical records noted, “The appearances are highly suspicious for subarachnoid haemorrhage and correlation with lumbar puncture is recommended”.

Over the next two days L had another cranial CT scan, a lumbar puncture was performed and she had an MRA scan when no abnormality was reported. L continued to suffer symptoms of migraine. Her condition was discussed in detail with the neurosurgical team at Charing Cross Hospital where it was agreed she should be transferred.

Seven days after first being admitted to hospital L suffered a second stroke. She was transferred to Charing Cross Hospital the next day.

Solicitor Suzanne White argued on behalf of L that there had been a clear breach of duty towards L by the Radiologist at West Middlesex Hospital who failed to notice evidence of a subarachnoid haemorrhage when she was first admitted to hospital.

If the diagnosis of L’s stroke had been made early on it is highly likely that she would have been transferred to Charing Cross Hospital, and would have received the appropriate treatment within the 48 hour timeframe as recommended in the national guidelines

Suzanne further argued that the Radiologist failed to recognise the subarachnoid haemorrhage on L’s MRI scan, and that medical staff failed to realise the significance of L’s lumbar puncture test.  

She also alleged negligence by Charing Cross Hospital in the failure by their neurological department to review L’s original CT scan and MRI scan correctly, to realise that a lumbar puncture had been performed, and to accept her for transfer. 

The second stroke that L suffered was much more serious than the first and has left her unable to continue her previous employment and activities. She has problems with her memory and is prone to intense fatigue.  She has problems with her balance, blurred vision, poor sleep, anxiety, mood swings and depression. As a result of these problems she and her husband have separated. 

The case settled for a seven figure sum.

Medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day Suzanne White said:

“Within a week my client’s life had changed for ever, it has impacted on her health, personal life and her ability to work.  If her initial stroke had been identified quickly it is highly likely that she would not have suffered the debilitating effects of a further stroke. All that was required was for medical staff to have interpreted her test results accurately. I am very pleased that we have now been able to secure compensation that will allow my client to move on with her life and give her access to the support and care she needs.” 

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