£1.1 Million Awarded for Failure to Diagnose Encephalitis

Posted on: November 13th, 2016 by Editor

A Gloucester woman has had her claim for medical negligence compensation approved by the High Court of London after her viral encephalitis was not promptly diagnosed, resulting in severe brain injuries.

In June 2009, the patient first attended her local hospital in Gloucestershire as she was experiencing extremely painful headaches. However, the cause of the headaches was not immediately apparent and as such doctors decided to admit her under observation overnight. However, the next morning there was still no diagnosis and the woman was discharged. Within twenty-four hours, however, the woman was rushed back to hospital as an emergency case.  

After her re-admittance, doctors diagnosed the cause of her pain as viral encephalitis (a viral infection that causes dangerous swelling of the brain). Tragically, this diagnosis was too late to prevent lasting damage. The woman is now reliant on twenty-four hour care and also has extreme amnesia that means it is difficult for her to communicate and engage with others.

The nature and extent of the brain damage meant that the woman was no longer able to represent herself in court. As such, members of her family made a claim for medical negligence compensation on her behalf. The claim, made against the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,  alleged that had a diagnosis been made earlier, there would have been a greater chance that the woman recovered with less extensive brain damage.

The NHS Trust conceded liability for the woman’s injuries, offering a T £1.1 million lump sum of compensation for their failure to diagnose. As the claim was made on behalf of another, it had to be approved in the High Court before it could be awarded. Judge Sir Ian Dove oversaw proceedings at the court earlier this month and proceeded to approve the settlement.

The judge commented 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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