NHS Trust Admits A Catalogue Of Failings After Death Of A Young Boy Following Heart Surgery

Specialist Medical Negligence Lawyers Secure Settlement For The Family


The heartbroken parents of a young boy who died following a series of failures from medical staff during heart surgery are speaking out for the first time after medical negligence lawyers secure a settlement from the NHS Trust.

Bradley Brough, from Upper Poppleton in York was just 11-years-old when he died on 13 October 2010 from complications following a non-urgent heart operation. Bradley died from a brain haemorrhage two days later.

Bradley was born with a number of health problems including a congenital heart condition called Tricuspid Atresia, as well as other heart problems such as Ventricular Septal Defect (Septum not fully formed in the heart). He had previously undergone successful heart surgery but his condition was beginning to deteriorate again by 2010 indicating a need for further surgery. He was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary for   completion of a Total Cavo-Pulmonary Connection (TCPC also known as the Fontan procedure) and closure of the pulmonary artery on 11 October 2010.

His parents Sharon and Kevin Brough instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate Bradley’s care and now following a full admission of liability and a formal apology from the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust the law firm has secured the family an undisclosed settlement.

Expert medical evidence commissioned by law firm Irwin Mitchell alleged:
• Bradley should not have had the operation on 11th October;
• Further investigations into Bradley’s medical condition should have taken place before the surgery was carried out;
• The surgeon Mr Weerasena did not carry out the planned procedure in particular the pulmonary artery was not closed off as planned;
• The operation was performed negligently;
• There was a delay in picking up Bradley’s deterioration and that the surgery had not been performed properly;
• He should have been taken back into surgery the same day, rather than the morning after resulting in a traumatic brain injury.

On the day of his operation, Bradley was in theatre for over 10 hours and his parents were not informed once of his condition by medical staff. His parents were only told after the surgery that Bradley had been taken to the Intensive care unit to recover from the operation when they saw the surgeon who carried out the operation. 

Bradley’s condition began to deteriorate rapidly over the next few hours following his operation and later that evening he underwent an emergency re-exploration in theatre due to excessive bleeding associated with hypotension and desaturations. No cause for the problems could be found and it was decided to end the procedure and carry out further investigations in the morning.

On 12 October, Bradley’s condition continued to deteriorate and so Bradley was taken back to theatre where the TCPC which had been created during the surgery on the previous day was taken down. On returning from theatre Bradley’s condition markedly deteriorated.

Even though his parents had been told the second operation had been successful, Bradley deteriorated and his pupils became dilated and unreactive, his eyes began to bulge from his head and he was very swollen. 

An emergency CT brain scan was performed which showed a large cerebral haemorrhage (bleed on the brain) and an area of brain ischemia - indicating a lack of blood flow to the brain.

Following further test on Bradley’s brain activity his parents were given the devastating news that a large section of Bradley’s brain had become unresponsive

On 13th October, with his family by his bedside, Bradley’s ventilator was switched off and he sadly died.

Mr Weerasena, Consultant Cardiothoracic surgeon who carried out the operation on Bradley has not carried out any further operations since March 2013 and the General Medical Council (GMC) are currently investigating.

Margaret Ryan, a specialist medical negligence lawyer from Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, representing the family, said: “Bradley’s family are heartbroken following his death and they are to this day still trying to come to terms with losing him in such a tragic way.

“Over the years Bradley struggled with his health, but was an active young boy and was able to make the most out of life despite his condition.

“We are pleased that following an admission from the Trust we were able to secure a settlement and an apology for the family and in turn secure justice in Bradley’s memory. His family would like assurances from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust that lessons have been learned by medical staff and that other families will not have to go through the pain they have after losing their son.

“The heart surgery unit at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is incredibly important to the Leeds community but has been under strict scrutiny over the past few years due to reports that the care provided fell below what can be reasonably expected. We welcome that the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust conducted an internal investigation into the care provided to patients. The Trust has made some improvements to rectify the problems arisen but they need to reassure patients and family members that their safety is the top priority for staff.”

Mother-of-three, Sharon 44, said: “Over four years later our family are still absolutely devastated over the loss of Bradley – he was a lively and loveable child who brought so much happiness to our lives. He wanted to be a writer when he grew up so that he could write books about his experiences to help other children with similar conditions to his.

“We do not think the standard of care Bradley received by medical staff at Leeds General Infirmary was acceptable and more should have been done so he could be with us today. 

“We are pleased that the Trust admitted responsibility for the mistakes made during Bradley’s care at the hospital. We have now received a settlement which marks the end of the legal battle but we just hope that lessons can be learned to make sure that each and every patient gets the care and support they need and that no other families are faced with the horrendous ordeal we are going through after losing our son.”