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Compensation finally paid after man on suicide watch suffers severe brain injury

Compensation has been paid to a man who suffered a severe brain injury after he hung himself while on suicide watch at a London hospital.

29 January 2018

A man who suffered brain damage after he was allowed to hang himself while on suicide watch at a London hospital has been awarded compensation.

The out of court settlement was reached after the man, who is in his late 40s, and who we shall refer to as ‘E’ in order to protect his identity, suffered severe brain injuries after he tried to hang himself while he was left alone at a hospital in East London; this was despite being placed on a continuous observation suicide watch.

Prior to the incident, E had developed paranoid symptoms and had previously been hospitalised for his own safety under the Mental Health Act.

E was admitted to the East London hospital in February 2005 with identified risks of suicide and self harm. As a result all staff were advised not to leave E unsupervised at any time and with any objects that he could use to harm himself. E’s family had also explained to hospital staff that E was a danger to himself and they were assured that he would be constantly monitored.

During E’s first evening at the hospital he was left unattended and attempted to hang himself. When he was discovered, E was barely conscious and was in cardiac arrest. Following emergency medical treatment E survived but was left with a severe brain injury which initially left him in a vegetative medical condition.

E remained in hospital for over a year undergoing rehabilitation and, although there was some improvement, when he was discharged he was still suffering severe impairments to his speech, movement and basic brain function. This left him dependent on the support of close family members for almost all areas of his life.

In 2013, the Defendant Trust accepted liability and apologised to the family of E for failing to place him under constant observation, however, it has taken another four years to agree the appropriate level of compensation.

E’s litigation friend and family member, known as ‘K’, said the therapies and care that E can now access following the successful claim for compensation has had a hugely positive impact on his quality of life.

She said: "It is commonly assumed that after ten years a brain injury would have made all the progress it was capable of, but by simply moving E to more appropriate accommodation he seems more connected, aware, and there is a brightness in his eyes where you can see he is genuinely happy.

"Thanks to the therapies he can now access you can see E’s improvement on a daily basis."

Medical negligence solicitor Sarah Campbell from law firm Leigh Day, who represented E and his family in the closing stages of the claim, said: "It has been a real privilege to work with E and his family on this complex and demanding case.

"One of the most rewarding aspects has been to see the positive effect on E after taking part in neurologic music therapy. E’s ability to engage and communicate with his therapist through music-making has been wonderful to see, particularly when he was thought by some of the medical experts assessing him to have been left with little or no ability to communicate reliably.

"While the trust accepted liability and apologised to E and his family in 2013, the four years it has taken to agree the correct level of compensation to provide E with the round the clock care and support he needs has been a very difficult time for all those closest to E.

"I am pleased that we have now brought that period to a close safe in the knowledge that we have been able to secure the necessary compensation to enable E to live as fulfilling a life as possible despite his entirely avoidable injuries"

The legal team at Leigh Day worked with Robin Oppenheim QC from Doughty Street Chambers on E’s case.


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