Young Mum Suffering Brain Damage After Delay In Meningitis Diagnosis Awarded Settlement At High Court

Lawyers Urge Lessons Be Learnt Across The NHS After ‘Devastating Delay’ In Diagnosis of Meningitis


A young mum whose life-threatening meningitis went undiagnosed for months leaving her with a devastating brain injury which means she now requires 24 hour care and assistance in caring for her young son has a six figure settlement approved at the High Court today (5th November) to fund her future care needs.

Expert medical negligence lawyers from Irwin Mitchell who helped 29-year old Clare Day and her family win their battle for justice are urging lessons to be learnt across the NHS after University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust admitted responsibility for a catalogue of failings.

Clare, from Horfield, in Bristol was admitted to hospital in December 2009 after suffering from a tight and uncomfortable chest and although she was given an x-ray which revealed a shadow on her lungs, she was told no further action was needed.

In the following months, Clare began to suffer from recognised symptoms of meningitis including headaches, vomiting, dramatic weight loss and fainting regularly. She was taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary on several occasions but was told it was nothing to worry about

On 11 April 2010 Clare was taken by ambulance to hospital where she had a scan and was diagnosed with tuberculosis meningitis and needed immediate brain surgery to fit a shunt to drain fluid from her brain.

The family’s lawyers Irwin Mitchell said the devastating delay in diagnosis meant her body quickly started to shut down leaving doctors fighting for her life as her oxygen levels fell dangerously low.

She now suffers from a brain injury which affects her memory and how she processes information. She has a carer and members of her family to look after her needs while her mother and step-father look after her son. Prior to the approval of the full settlement today, Irwin Mitchell also secured interim funds so that this care could be provided in her own home.

The settlement funds are now carefully managed by Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Court of Protection team.

Expert Opinion
Clare’s life has been left devastated by the meningitis and our expert medical evidence suggested that if the correct diagnosis and care had been administered when she first showed symptoms, her life is likely to have been very different.

“The settlement approved by the High Court today will ensure Clare has access to vital medical care that she will need for the rest of her life and to give her family the peace of mind that any on-going treatment will now be taken care of.

“Patient safety has to be the number one priority for everyone in the NHS and lessons must be learnt by this trust, and others across the country, to ensure the same mistakes do not happen again.”
Julie Lewis, Partner
Clare’s mum Elaine Nikolovski who helps to care for Clare and her six-year-old son, said: “Clare’s life was changed forever after the meningitis and it is so frustrating that with different care things may have been different.

“We are relieved that today marks the end of the legal proceedings and that the settlement has now been approved so that we can access the vital support to help assist with her future medical and care costs and ensure she has the best possible quality of life.

“I hope that lessons have been learnt by the Trust to ensure other families are not put through what we have and that staff are adequately trained to spot the symptoms of meningitis.”