£150,000 for Out Of Hours Failure to Diagnose a Brain Haemorrhage

Our client, Ms M, from Brighton, now aged 30, suffered severe headache symptoms late one afternoon in June 2010. She contacted the Brighton Out Of Hours service and was advised to attend the A&E department at the Royal Sussex County Hospital for assessment by an Out Of Hours GP. She was seen there later that evening. Her symptoms included the sudden onset of a ‘thunder clap’ headache with nausea, vomiting and neck pain, all quite different from the migraines that she had suffered with previously.

Despite these being ‘red flag’ symptoms for a subarachnoid haemorrhage, the GP practitioner who she saw advised that she was suffering with a viral infection and simply prescribed antiemetic medication for the nausea together with pain killers.

In fact, our client had suffered a small sentinel bleed from an aneurysm which would have been detected had a SAH being suspected, investigated and confirmed by way of a CT scan with lumber puncture.

Instead, our client was sent home.

Subsequently, in August 2010, she suffered very similar sudden onset headache symptoms, presented at hospital, was investigated and a right carotid artery aneurysm was detected.

She underwent open brain surgery to clip the aneurysm.

Following this, she suffered a stroke, through vasospasm.

She had to spend a considerable period in hospital, undertaking rehabilitation, before returning home, and was left with longstanding neurological problems, in terms of a left sided deficit as well as cognitive problems.

Legal proceedings against the out of hours GP were issued and served in May 2015. The Defence filed in response admitted a negligent failure to refer our client on for further investigation of her presenting headache in June 2010, that the symptoms of headache were due to a sentinel bleed from the aneurysm and that this would have been diagnosed through CT scanning had a referral been made.

Causation, however, was fully contested, with the Defence arguing that the stroke that our client suffered was due to the endemic nature of the surgery undertaken, not vasospasm, and that the same outcome would have occurred had the diagnosis been made in the June.

Protracted legal proceedings followed with the involvement of no fewer than 5 different experts, on each side, covering the specialisms of neurosurgery, neuroradiology, neurology, neuropsychology and psychiatry.

The case was listed for a 5 day contested hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice to start on 19th June this year.

Ultimately, however, a settlement was reached prior to this at a Round Table Meeting held on 23rd May.

Our client was represented by Kate Virica and Nick Fairweather at Fairweathers. At the conclusion of the case, Kate Virica commented:-

This was a long and difficult case which our client had to show a great deal of determination and courage to see through to a successful conclusion. The medical issues were very complex surrounding causation. I am pleased that our client has managed to achieve some level of recovery and improvement in her condition and very much hope that this will continue into the future for her and her young family.”

Our client commented:-

“I was extremely pleased with the outcome of my case, it was worth all the hard work and travelling on my side. I now feel like I have the ability to provide for my 3 young children again. And I couldn’t have accomplished this without the help of Kate and Nick of Fairweathers. They were there to help at every turn during my case and even with things in my personal life which were not necessarily to do with the case. I never once doubted my decision for Fairweathers to act on my behalf during this case. I felt I was heard at all times throughout the process. And couldn’t thank either Kate or Nick enough for all their hard work in this very complex case.”