We represented a client who underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm at University Hospital Coventry in March 2016. He underwent surgery which initially appeared successful, however, his condition deteriorated. Over the following weeks and months he and his wife reported their concerns regarding his deterioration to his doctors but it was not until August 2016 that he was referred for a brain MRI scan. The scan should have been performed and reported urgently because of his critical condition, however, a radiologist did not view the MRI scan and report its findings until October 2016. It was only then that the doctors realised the aneurysm was getting bigger and he needed urgent intervention to stop further deterioration – by that time he was significantly disabled.
The claim arose from negligent care in the management of the brain aneurysm, in particular excessive delay to referrals, appointments and reporting the brain MRI scan. As a result of the defendant’s negligence, our client is now severely disabled. He cannot work, cannot walk, requires assistance with day to day tasks, his speech is impaired, he has incontinence problems and suffers with fatigue. Despite this, our client has retained mental capacity to conduct litigation, and his sense of humour.
During the course of our investigations we found that there were systemic issues with the radiology service at the trust around this time, which meant it was not only our client who was affected. The trust undertook their own investigation and other organisations were involved, including the Clinical Commissioning Group and The Royal College of Radiologists. The Care Quality Commission also undertook an inspection around this time, which found the service did not have an interventional radiologist. The CQC’s inspection report stated “this meant patients were at risk of coming to avoidable harm because their urgent health needs were not addressed in a timely manner.”
What was our role?
Despite being told by another city-based firm that this case had no prospects, our client contacted us and we took on the case close to the statutory limitation deadline. We secured the defendant’s agreement to a moratorium (essentially an extension of the deadline), which allowed time to gather evidence and build the case.
We obtained independent expert evidence from seven different experts, across a variety of disciplines, including neurosurgery, interventional neuro-radiology, care, therapy, and others. We also involved a leading clinical negligence barrister.
We secured an early admission of some elements of breach of duty which allowed us to focus on the key battlegrounds. The defendant denied full liability throughout the case but we gathered the evidence required to succeed with the claim.
An out of court settlement for our client which was a six-figure lump sum was also secured. This will give financial security for his future, pay for adaptations to his home and private therapy and care of his choosing.
Our specialist in the personal planning team also helped our client with a personal injury trust and a will.
How did we add value?
Our work identified failings in patient care, especially systemic failures in the trust’s radiology service, which will have affected many patients. By bringing a claim, the human impact of these failures were highlighted. In doing so, this reinforced the importance of making improvements for the care of all patients in the future.
The settlement has given our client financial security for the rest of his life. He now has the means to engage physiotherapists and other professionals to maximise his independence and quality of life. In turn, this will alleviate pressures on our client’s family. The settlement will also fund private therapists, alleviating the demand on NHS services.