Ashtons Legal secure multi-million pound settlement for victim of avoidable brain stem stroke
Ms K, a 29-year-old woman at the time of her injury, attended A&E after her mum noticed that she was suffering from facial drooping, slurred speech and right-side weakness. She had been suffering with a persistent headache and fatigue for a number of months and her mum, quite reasonably, thought she was having a stroke.
Whilst in A&E, her symptoms temporarily resolved, so a CT scan was not performed straight away. However, her symptoms returned, and a head CT and angiogram were eventually performed. The CT scans were incorrectly reported as ‘normal’.
In fact, the CT angiogram actually showed that there was an irregularity at the left vertebral artery with impaired blood flow. This was likely due to the fact that there had been a dissection of the artery, which had, most probably, caused a visible clot to form in the basilar artery.
Ms K was diagnosed with a suspected migraine and discharged a couple of days later. After being at home for a few days, Ms K collapsed. After a couple of hours passed, she managed to crawl to a telephone and call for an ambulance. She was taken back to the Defendant hospital.
At the hospital, the results of the CT scans were again noted to be normal and no explanation, other than migraine, was provided. She was treated with aspirin and once again discharged. Within an hour of arriving home, she again suffered facial drooping with associated slurring of speech and confusion. Again, an ambulance was called and she was taken back to the Defendant hospital. She proceeded to suffer a catastrophic brain stem stroke overnight.
Initially, it was thought that Ms K had suffered locked-in syndrome, as she was unable to move anything other than her right index finger. However, she slowly started to regain function after eight months of in-patient rehabilitation. She has, however, been left with significant ongoing problems, both cognitively and physically, and was retired on the grounds of ill-health from her role as a civil servant.
After allegations of negligence surrounding the interpretation of the CT scan were put to the Defendant Trust, they admitted that the scan should not have been reported as “normal” and should have been followed up appropriately. It was admitted that had Ms K been treated with Aspirin during her first attendance at A&E this would, on the balance of probabilities, have prevented the brain stem stroke that she ultimately suffered.
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