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Paralysed TV correspondent wins £4.5 million in damages

Andrew Brown has secured compensation after being abandoned by his surgeon

Posted on 08 February 2010

Former CNN correspondent Andrew Brown has settled his claim against consultant neurosurgeon David Sandeman who has agreed to pay damages of ₤4.5 million and Brown’s legal costs.

Brown – whose satirical reports were among the most popular on the international news network – was abandoned by his surgeon after an operation in January 2006 at The Bath Clinic in the west of England.

Two days after removing a tumour in Brown’s spinal cord, Sandeman went on a business trip without arranging any cover for his patient.

Before Sandeman left The Bath Clinic early on the afternoon of January 26, Brown, a Hong Kong-based television journalist, complained of severe pain in his neck.

20 minutes later, when Sandeman was on the platform of Bath railway station, a junior doctor telephoned to tell Sandeman that Brown could no longer feel his hands and feet.

Yet Sandeman, an NHS Consultant at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol with 23 years’ experience under his belt as a neurosurgeon, went ahead with his journey and could not be contacted by mobile or otherwise for the next 3 and a half hours.
In the meantime a blood clot that had formed between Brown’s spinal cord and his vertebrae expanded dramatically, crushing critical nerve pathways and at 3.40 pm he was quadriplegic.  The irreparable damage to Brown’s cord left him fighting for his life.  He spent the next 8 weeks in intensive care unable to breathe on his own and almost totally paralysed below the neck.

A few months after the injury Brown asked medical negligence specialists, Leigh Day & Co, to investigate a claim against Sandeman and his insurers, the Medical Protection Society.

Leigh Day built up a formidable legal case culminating in the Defendants offering to settle the case for ₤4.5 million and legal costs.

Russell Levy, head of clinical negligence at Leigh Day, said he was delighted with the result.

“We’ll never know what important business David Sandeman had to attend to in London on the afternoon of 26 January 2006, but the terrible tragedy is that if he had simply gone back to see his patient when the junior doctor telephoned him before he had boarded a train, Andrew’s devastating injuries would have been avoided and a brilliant career as a television correspondent would not have been snuffed out.”

Andrew Brown, who was born on January 19 1964 and brought up in the Guildford area, has spent most of his professional life in Hong Kong where he has worked as a correspondent for CNN, the business TV network CNBC, several local TV stations and CBS Radio. He covered news in Hong Kong, mainland China and Southeast Asia from 1989 - 2005.

In witness statements filed with the Court, senior TV news executives paid tribute to Brown’s distinctive style of reporting and the quirky stories which were his signature.

After being discharged from intensive care at Frenchay Hospital outside Bristol, Brown was treated at an NHS spinal cord injuries unit in Salisbury. Then, to take advantage of inexpensive care in Thailand, he transferred to Bumrungrad International, one of the top hospitals in SE Asia.

Today Brown is mostly confined to a wheelchair though he can walk short distances with crutches.  He suffers from chronic neuropathic pain which makes it impossible for him to lead a normal life.

“The settlement is a great relief”, said Brown. “I would like to thank the many friends who gave me moral and financial support over the last several years and my family who were also solidly behind me.”

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