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Recovery of £56,000 Compensation for Mismanaged Epilepsy

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Pearson Solicitors’ Clinical Negligence Team has recently secured a settlement of £56,000 in a case where Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s negligent management of an 87 year old patient’s epilepsy resulted in death.

Mr B had suffered from epilepsy for approximately four years prior but otherwise enjoyed an independent and active life with his wife. Mr B had experienced a marked increase in seizure activity since being diagnosed.

He was admitted to the Medical Assessment Unit at Tameside Hospital with confusion, hallucinations, delusions and possible fits and given muscle relaxants and sedatives and spent most of the next few days asleep.

On day four his daughter noticed two short self-limiting seizures and a neurology consultation was requested. Mr B was reviewed by a senior neurologist who advised that if Mr B suffered back to back seizures he would need Intensive Care review and sedation.

His condition deteriorated, he lost consciousness and crucially, on review by an ITU registrar and the consultant anaesthetist on call, it was concluded he did not require intensive care treatment at that time, despite contrary advice.

Many hours later the neurologist was consulted and concluded that Mr B was in status epilepticus - a dangerous condition in which epileptic fits follow one another without recovery of consciousness between them.

The medical registrar responsible for Mr B’s care had no knowledge of the Trust’s policy for the management of status epilepticus and the senior neurologist had to direct him to move our client to the HDU and commence anaesthetic to attempt to preserve brain function. Unfortunately no beds were available and there was a continued reluctance to follow the neurologist’s advice.

The following day the senior neurologist reviewed Mr B and concluded that he had been in status epilepticus for most of the weekend and his treatment had not followed hospital protocol. He concluded that the patient should have been anaesthetised in order to produce burst suppression of the seizures and limit or avoid brain damage.

Unfortunately Mr B’s consciousness level did not improve and it was concluded that he had suffered brain damage as a result of the status epilepticus. He remained unconscious at Tameside Hospital until he was transferred to Willow Wood Hospice where he died approximately six weeks later.

Pearson Solicitors were instructed to pursue a clinical negligence claim on behalf of Mr B’s Estate.

The Trust acknowledged “that the care that Mr B received did fall below a reasonable standard, due to the clinician’s lack of awareness of the Trust’s own protocol for the management of status epilepticus and it is possible that the cerebral anoxia could have been limited or avoided”.

Expert evidence asserted that but for these failures Mr B would have avoided status epilepticus, he would not have sustained the brain damage and he would have recovered from the seizures enabling him to return home fit and well.

Pearson Solicitors successfully recovered £56,000 in damages for the Estate as compensation for Mr B’s pain, suffering and lost amenity, for Mrs B’s lost dependency, for bereavement damages and for the cost of Mr B’s funeral and memorial.

Specialist clinical negligence solicitor, commented “This is an extremely sad case where the lack of awareness of a Trust protocol and delay in its implementation led to status epilepticus and it is possible that the cerebral anoxia could have been limited or avoided”.

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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