Patient Compensated for Severe Brain Damage After Misdiagnosis

A woman, whose viral encephalitis was not promptly diagnosed by doctors, has been awarded a £1.1 million settlement of compensation for the life-changing brain damage she sustained as a result.

In June 2009, the woman in question – whose anonymity has been preserved throughout proceedings – was suffering from severe headaches. She visited her local hospital and was admitted overnight on observational grounds. However, as doctors failed to diagnose the cause of her pain, she was discharged the next day. Yet just twenty-four hours later the woman, from Gloucestershire, was re-admitted as an emergency case.

After her second admittance, the medics diagnosed the woman with viral encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. However, it was too late – the woman, who had gone twenty-four hours without proper medical care, had already sustained debilitating brain-damage. She is now reliant upon twenty-four-hour care, and has a severely impaired memory because of the brain damage.

As she was no longer able to represent herself in court, her family made a claim for medical negligence compensation on her behalf against the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust admitted negligence and paid the woman a £1.1 million lump sum of compensation for their failure to diagnose. This was approved at the High Court of London.

Judge Sir Ian Dove, who oversaw proceedings at the court noted that  “Money can never fully correct what has happened to the claimant in this case, but unfortunately it is the best that the law can do. She will be now be comfortable and secure for the remainder of her life, will be able to stay in her own home and to have carers around her so that she can live the fullest life she can.”

Barrister Alexander Hutton QC, a representative for the Gloucester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, commented that “We are extremely sorry for the failings that happened in relation to the care of this claimant. The consequences for her have been very grave. I would like to pay tribute to her family. They have been unstinting in their support of the claimant in very difficult circumstances. We do hope that this compensation helps and we do wish the claimant and her family all the best for the future.”

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