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Settlement Secured For Mum-Of-Four With Serious Brain Damage After Delayed Medical Diagnosis

Our medical negligence lawyers have secured a seven-figure compensation settlement for a mum-of-four who was left severely brain damaged when doctors failed to diagnose a viral infection quickly enough.

The 50-year-old woman, Christine*, had begun to feel run down in February 2005 and started behaving out of character. She grew argumentative, finding fault with things which wouldn’t normally have concerned her.

On February 10th, Christine was sick throughout the day and that evening lost consciousness before suffering a seizure. Her husband called an ambulance and she was taken to hospital but staff took no action despite her disorientation, rising temperature and unusual behaviour.

Three days after admission, doctors confirmed that Christine had Herpes Simplex Encephalitis – a viral infection of the central nervous system – and started her on treatment just under four hours later.

The delayed diagnosis has left Christine with severe neurological damage. She suffers with constant confusion and behavioural issues. She must be supervised and supported with basic activities like eating, washing and dressing and can be a danger to herself if left alone. She has also been left with a reduced life expectancy.

Before her illness, Christine was a very active person who enjoyed gardening, walking her dog, and going for hikes in the countryside. “Our lives as a family changed beyond recognition 12 years ago and we would give anything to turn back the clock,” said her husband.

“Christine was a fit and active, outdoorsy hands-on mum with a lust for life. The mistakes which robbed her of prompt and effective treatment have also robbed her of much of those passions and she has had to learn to continue life as a different person.”

Her husband asked our medical negligence team to investigate Christine's care under East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust and help his wife access specialist care and rehabilitation. We found that if the hospital had provided treatment within 16 hours of admission, she would not have suffered such a significant brain injury.

We helped the family access a grant to make their home more accessible and we secured an interim payment from the NHS Trust to support Christine's care, rehabilitation, and any equipment she needs for her life at home.

A High Court hearing has since awarded Christine a lump sum of £1.85m and six-figure annual payments for the rest of her life to cover the cost of her on-going care.

“The last 12 years have been incredibly difficult for Christine and her family,” said Associate Solicitor Richard Kayser, “While nothing can change what has happened to her, the significant settlement agreed by the courts today will provide her with access to suitable accommodation, a full care package and continued rehabilitation for the rest of her life.

“It is important that the NHS Trust continues to learn from the mistakes made and improve its practices to ensure that no other family will have to endure what Christine and her family have been through.”

Christine's husband added, “While nothing can change what happened to Christine, I hope that this settlement will enable our family to now look forward and make plans for the future, knowing that Christine will be able to access the services that she needs to live as full a life as possible.”

If you or a loved one has been affected by a slow or incorrect diagnosis, our medical negligence solicitors may be able to help. See our misdiagnosis claims page for more information.

*names have been changed to protect client anonymity

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