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Compensation award for rare Stevens Johnson Syndrome

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A client who had an extreme allergic reaction to medication which could have been fatal has thankfully made a good recovery and received compensation when the Pearson Solicitors medical negligence department represented her.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Case

Our client, Kanayo Dike-Oduah had been to see her GP with severe and persistent pain in her jaw, this was compounded after the extraction of her wisdom tooth.  She was given Carbamazepine, a medicine used for nerve pain, but as her symptoms deteriorated it was not given any further consideration in her diagnosis or treatment, despite a propensity to serious side effects.

Ten days later she was back in touch with her GP and reported scaly skin on her shins, a swollen tongue and bumps in her skin.  Ms Dike-Oduah was advised to increase her dosage of the medication.  Five days later her breathing became difficult, her eye was swollen and her lips were cracked and bleeding.

As her symptoms developed, she became fearful and so went to her local accident and emergency unit at Croydon University Hospital.  By now she has discharge from her eyes, red spots on her palms, difficulty swallowing, pus in her throat and blistering of her skin. She was prescribed chlorpheniramine, a type of antihistamine and Prednisolone, a steroid that can help reduce swelling and inflammation.  A hospital diagnosis of an allergic reaction to shellfish was not communicated to the client.

Her condition began to deteriorate, a further trip to A&E diagnosed tonsillitis and conjunctivitis and gave her a prescription for antibiotics. A second emergency appointment with her GP advised her to take a week off work and continue the medication given by the hospital.  As her breathing and sight deteriorated, and her pain increased a relative called the paramedics who advised that an allergic reaction can often get worse before it gets better.

It was only when Ms Dike-Oduah sent some pictures of her face to a local pharmacist that they advised her to rush to the hospital immediately.  On arrival at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich our client collapsed.  A doctor in resuscitation told her family if she had been at home another day her condition could have been fatal.

The QE Hospital gave her a punch skin biopsy which confirmed Steven-Johnson Syndrome secondary to taking Carbamazepine.

What is Stevens Johnson Syndrome?

It is a very rare but serious skin reaction and needs immediate treatment.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome can be a result of your body reacting to certain medications, namely antibiotics and anti-inflammatory painkillers. One of the medications commonly associated with the syndrome is Carbamazepine.

Only when the condition was correctly identified the Carbamazepine was stopped and our client was treated in the hospital for a week with topical medication and medical care.

As her recovery proceeded, she undertook a three-month convalescence period, was unable to live at home alone and had to live with her mother, reliant on her for care. Long term she has been left with hyperpigmentation of her skin from the scarring, has associated acne, needs specific skincare, facial and makeup products, as well as requiring psychological treatment to help get over this very stressful and painful period in her life.

Breach of duty of care medical negligence

The Pearson medical negligence department settled her case out of court and the Croydon Health Services NHS Trust admitted a series of breaches of duty of care and made a compensation settlement award of £20,000.

“I was the victim of medical negligence as I did not receive the urgent and appropriate care I needed to minimise my suffering and physical and mental injuries,” said Ms Dike-Oduah.

“I contacted Pearson Solicitors to get advice and I was well attended and represented.  I am grateful for the kindness, support and expertise in dealing with such a sensitive case."

“I received damages for my clinical negligence experience within three years of opening the case. Pearson are excellent in what they do, committed to helping those in similar situations and I can only give them my highest recommendation," she added.

Although she lives in London, we were easily able to represent Ms Dike-Oduah and she came to Pearson after consulting our website.  Our medical negligence clients come to us from all over the country and we have an excellent track record of getting clients the compensation they deserve.

“I am pleased that we were able to achieve Justice for Ms Dike-Oduah. Despite the miles between us, we were able to take instructions efficiently and ensure that updates on the case were regularly communicated. When you are able to engage with your client and speak to them regularly, I find that it makes the job far easier and Ms Dike-Oduah was a pleasure to receive instructions from” said medical negligence solicitor Daniel Phelps, who was part of the team representing Ms Dike-Oduah.

How can we help

For professional legal advice on medical negligence cases contact our solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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    Written by Daniel Phelps