Former Hair Salon Owner Joins With Lawyers To Mark National Stroke Awareness Month
A mum whose stroke symptoms were mistakenly diagnosed as tonsillitis is marking National Stroke Awareness Month by urging healthcare professionals to improve their understanding of such conditions.
Christine Morgan was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery after tests revealed that the severe headache and neck ache she had been suffering were the symptoms of a bleed on the brain which led to a stroke.
Four days earlier a GP had visited the hair salon owner at home in Tonbridge after she had complained of the symptoms.
Christine, who is now severely disabled and reliant on a wheelchair, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care she received from GP Dr Ravi Jumnoodoo, who at the time was practising at Warders Medical Centre in Tonbridge.
Lawyers acting for Dr Jumnoodoo admitted there was a breach of duty in that the GP should have suspected that Christine may have suffered a bleed on the brain - called a subarachnoid haemorrhage - and should have arranged for her to be “urgently admitted to hospital for investigation of her symptoms.”
However, Dr Jumnoodoo’s failure to refer Christine to hospital was not responsible for her suffering a stroke and subsequent injuries, his lawyers said.
Christine, 64, and her family have now joined their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in marking National Stroke Awareness Month by urging all medical experts to ensure they understand the key warning signs of such conditions.
Expert Opinion“Christine has faced an incredibly difficult few years and the impact of what happened continues to have a profound impact on her and her family.
“The symptoms Christine experienced are the classic signs of a potential subarachnoid haemorrhage and warranted urgent hospital admission for further investigation and treatment.
“Her story is a reminder of the importance for all medical professionals to be aware of the signs of a stroke and take appropriate action at all times.
“We will continue to support Christine and her family to help them come to terms with what happened.” Leena Savjani - Partner
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people affected by a stroke
Christine has been married to her husband Dave for 44 years. They have two children – James and David, age 40 and 36.
She ran a mobile hair salon and was working at home colouring the hair of one of her clients on 19 January, 2016, when she suffered a massive headache and a painful ‘whooshing’ sensation from the back of her neck over the top of her head. She was forced to stop working and sent her client home.
The next day, her husband, Dave 65, requested a home visit by the GP as Christine remained unwell. Dr Jumnoodoo visited, and after reviewing Christine’s symptoms concluded that she had tonsillitis, despite Christine reporting that she did not have a cough or a sore throat.
Christine’s symptoms continued. On 24 January Dave called the NHS 111 helpline and arrangements were made for her to be seen at an out-of-hours service. Following assessment at the out-of-hours service she was advised to attend hospital.
After tests at hospital, it was confirmed that she had in fact suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a serious and potentially life threatening condition. She underwent surgery the following day.
Christine spent two months in hospital, including several weeks at a rehabilitation unit. Three years on from her stroke she continues to suffer with severe weakness in her left side and a drop foot which means she is only able to walk short distances, is reliant on a wheelchair and had not been able to return to work.
She said: “The past few years have been completely devastating and I am now reliant on Dave to do even the most basic tasks at home. I cannot wash, dress or go anywhere without Dave’s help.
“I can no longer work which is really sad because my work as a hairdresser really made me happy. My clients were more than just clients. They were my friends and I had known some of them for 30 or 40 years and used to enjoy going out with them. “
She added: “When I was told my headaches were simply tonsillitis I could not believe it. I even remember looking in a mirror and seeing that my tonsils looked normal. To find out afterwards that I had in fact suffered a really serious brain haemorrhage was devastating.
“Dr Jumnoodoo missed a chance to send me to hospital earlier – if he had done so I would have had surgery much sooner than I did. I will never know for certain what difference this might have made but I want to ensure that other people are aware of the early signs of a subarachnoid haemorrhage.”
Christine’s son, James added: “Mum was always the life and soul of any party and gathering. She was, and still aims to be the most glamorous lady you could meet. Her looks, style and mostly her shoes were always her biggest statement. Big blonde hair, killer heels and a smile that would light up the room.
“Holidays and shopping were always mum’s favourite past times. Her and dad used to really enjoy incredible cruises and trips to the Caribbean.
“Now life now couldn’t be more different. She still has the same desire to make everyone happy and wants to be as glamorous as ever and she is – but she completely misses her independence and dignity being mostly wheelchair bound.
“Sadly mum’s life will never be what it once was but we as a family are really keen to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis of strokes caused by brain aneurysms, known as subarachnoid haemorrhages, so other people can recognise the signs.
“Mum is such a positive person and is keen to use her story to help others. The tenacity and resilience she has shown despite her disability is testament to her strong spirit – and something my family and I want to highlight during Stroke Awareness month”