Herefordshire Husband And Medical Negligence Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learned After Reaching Settlement With Hospital Trust
A husband is calling for lessons to be learned after his wife was sent home from hospital with a brain aneurysm which later burst, leaving her permanently disabled.
Ray Deans has now spoken for the first time about his protracted legal campaign to secure answers from the Trust that runs Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and obtain specialist support for his wife Caroline.
Ross-on-Wye mum Caroline's avoidable brain injury
The mum-of-two and grandmother-of-six suffered avoidable brain damage and has been left permanently disabled following failings in her care.
In June 2017 Caroline began to complain of a headache before collapsing and losing consciousness in her garden at home.
Caroline sent home after Hospital Trust failed to treat brain aneurysm
She was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital where doctors found she had suffered a bleed on the brain and also found she had an aneurysm. However, despite discussing treatment options, medics failed to treat the aneurysm before discharging her.
A week after she was sent home, Caroline, of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, collapsed again. Her aneurysm had ruptured, causing a second bleed on the brain.
She was re-admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Caroline underwent emergency surgery but she had suffered severe brain damage and was left permanently disabled.
Caroline spent around five months in hospital and now lives in a nursing home. She has been unable to return home, is in a semi-vegetative state and is entirely reliant on others for all aspects of her care.
Family asks medical negligence lawyers to investigate care
Following the incident her husband, Ray, 62, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his wife’s care and help her access the specialist lifetime care, support and therapies she requires.
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth, admitted liability, including that it failed to treat Caroline’s aneurysm, before discharging her. Through its lawyers the Trust admitted that if Caroline had undergone treatment, on the balance of probabilities, the aneurysm wouldn’t have burst and she would have avoided her brain injury.
Hospital Trust apologises for catastrophic outcome and agrees settlement
Ray and his legal team are now calling for lessons to be learned.
It comes after the Trust agreed a ‘substantial’ undisclosed settlement ensuring Caroline’s lifelong care needs will be taken of.
The settlement comes more than two years after the Trust admitted liability and apologised to Ray.
In a letter to Ray sent via Irwin Mitchell in October 2020, the Trust said that concluding Caroline’s aneurysm was “incidental and unrelated to the bleed fell below the standard of care she should have been entitled to receive.”
The letter added: “We accept, had treatment been undertaken prior to her discharge, Caroline would have avoided the subsequent bleed, brain damage and catastrophic outcome she has suffered.”
Settlement to fund adapted home and specialist care following brain injury
Ray now hopes to use the settlement to pay for an adapted property and bespoke care package specifically designed for Caroline’s needs, allowing her to live as independently as possible with her family.
Expert Opinion“The catastrophic and avoidable injuries Caroline suffered have had a devastating effect, not only on her but her family.
“The last few years and trying to come to terms with how their lives will never be the same have been incredibly difficult for them.
“We welcome the Trust’s admission and apology. Following this substantial settlement Ray and his family are pleased that they can finally put the added stress of the legal case behind them and now have the security of knowing Caroline’s lifetime needs will be taken care of. Ray’s focus is now on ensuring his wife can access the specialist care, support and therapies she requires because of the failings in her care.
“However, it’s also vital that lessons are learned from Caroline’s case to improve patient safety for others.” Rosalie Reading
Medical negligence: Caroline Deans' story
On 26 June, 2017, Caroline began to complain of a headache before collapsing at home. She also suffered sickness and confusion. She was taken to hospital where a CT scan showed a severe bruise on the brain.
The former director of a family run business, continued to suffer a persistent headache and confusion and was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 29 June, 2017. An aneurysm was detected in further scans.
Following a meeting between doctors it was decided to treat Caroline as an outpatient and she was discharged on 8 July, 2017.
Less than a week later, on 14, July, 2017, she collapsed again. She was discovered unconscious and unresponsive by Ray.
Despite several emergency surgeries at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, scans showed reduced blood supply to parts of Caroline’s brain. It was determined she had suffered catastrophic brain damage and was permanently disabled as a result.
Caroline was moved to a rehabilitation unit on 1 November, 2017, and has resided in a nursing home since March 2018.
Husband Ray reveals impact care failings have had on family
Speaking about his beloved wife Ray said: “Before Caroline’s aneurysm we really enjoyed life as a family and she was such a fun and outgoing person.
“Sadly, that’s all in the past for us now, and seeing my wife struggle day after day is heart-breaking. Caroline used to be strong-willed and independent and looked after all of us but now she needs everyone else to help care for her.
“It’s difficult not to get upset at how our lives, but particularly Caroline’s, have changed forever because of the failings in her care.
“The hardest thing to understand is how she was allowed home from hospital despite doctors knowing she had an aneurysm and discussing it amongst themselves. Aneurysms aren’t something minor; they’re extremely dangerous and can have disastrous consequences if they rupture.
“It’s difficult not to think things could have been so different if Caroline received the care she should have. Our children would still have their mother looking out for them, our grandchildren would have their granny spoiling them and I would still have my best friend by my side.
“I know we can’t turn back the clock so my focus now is on ensuring Caroline can receive the best possible care and be able to regain some quality of life.
Ray wants lessons to be learned
“The last few years of trying to get all of the answers as to what went wrong has felt a real struggle. I understand there needed to be various tests and things to assess the level of care Caroline needs, but one of the hardest things to accept is that it’s taken the Trust more than two years to agree a settlement after admitting errors and apologising.
“It feels like there have been unnecessary delays by the Trust and this could have been resolved much sooner without the additional upset of trying to get the best for Caroline while trying to cope with the almost grief like feeling of knowing we’ll never get the Caroline we love so much back.
“Everyone at the home is amazing with Caroline but my main goal now is to get Caroline into her own adapted house so she can have a bespoke package of care and therapies and be surrounded by her family.
“Caroline has been taking part in various therapies such as neuro-physiotherapy, art therapy and music therapy and she has responded well to those. There have even been occasions where she has spoken a few words.
“We’d obviously rather not be in this position but all I can hope for now is that the Trust learns from not only how Caroline was badly let down when she needed help but also how families going through the most difficult of times following avoidable medical mistakes need access to the best support and rehabilitation as quickly as possible.”
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