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Significant settlement for client who suffered a spinal cord injury at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

A woman whose TB meningitis was misdiagnosed has settled her medical negligence claim

Hospital corridor

19 September 2018

A woman, known only as T to protect her identity, has received a £3.5 million settlement, plus £300,000 per annum, indexed linked, for life after being paralysed from the neck down after attending Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
 
T instructed medical negligence expert Olive Lewin to act for her in her claim against the hospital.
 
T went to the A&E department of Charing Cross Hospital A&E on 4th August 2011 after suffering with headaches and raised temperature and pulse for six days. She was given painkillers and a drug for migraines and sent home. She was also advised to see her GP if she didn’t improve.
 
The next day she was taken by ambulance to the A&E department at Chelsea and Westminster  hospital with no improvement in her condition, and also suffering with nausea. She also complained of generalised weakness, joint pain, reduced appetite and shivering. She had a very raised temperature and pulse. She was examined and there was pain when she bent her neck. Initial notes queried whether she was suffering from  sepsis caused by meningitis. Intravenous antibiotics were given, and she was sent home the following morning.
 
T returned to Chelsea and Westminster the following day at 13.30 by ambulance with headache and vomiting. On examination she was shaking, and had pain radiating to her shoulder. She had also developed a cough, sore throat and tinnitus in the left ear. The diagnosis was viral meningitis, a kidney infection or migraine. She was sent home without any investigations being carried out, but with a supply of painkillers and anti-sickness tablets.
 
On 12th August, T returned to A&E with a headache, vomiting, dizziness and weakness. Later in the day she went on to become unresponsive, and was eventually diagnosed with TB meningitis, which has left her paralysed from the neck down.
 
Each time T went to hospital she asked if she might have meningitis, and on each occasion she was reassured and sent home.
 
The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital admitted liability in full at an early stage and have paid T £3.5 million, with annual payments of £300,000 per year, index linked for life.
 
Olive instructed Christopher Hough at Doughty Street Chambers and was assisted by solicitor Charlotte Cooper.
 
Medical negligence solicitor Olive Lewin said:
 
“I am pleased that my client will now be able to use this settlement to pay for a full care package, adaptations to her home, buy specialist equipment and lifelong therapies. She has suffered a devastating and life-changing illness which was missed on numerous occasions, despite her raising the possibility with medical staff that she was suffering from meningitis. Had she been treated adequately at an early stage , she would have avoided her injuries.”

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