Case study: £495,000 for fatality caused by undiagnosed aneurysm
Our specialist medical negligence solicitors supported a client to claim compensation for the death of his wife after she passed away as a result of a ruptured brain aneurysm.
Headaches and blurred vision
In 2017, our client’s wife, Mrs E, attended her GP because she was experiencing headaches and blurred vision, alongside intrusive visual memories, frequent sensations of déjà vu and olfactory hallucinations.
Her doctor referred her for an MRI scan, after which she was informed it was normal. However, Mrs E continued to experience her symptoms and had episodes throughout the day, which included seizures and blackouts whilst awake.
Mrs E reported this to her GP and a subsequent full blood count, urea, and electrolytes blood tests were carried out, all of which were normal. She was diagnosed with anxiety.
Emergency hospital transfer
One Saturday in 2018, Mrs E started to experience severe headaches, which settled down later that day. On Sunday, the severe headache returned, so she took some painkillers and went upstairs to lie down in bed. Later on, her husband heard her rush to the bathroom and found her collapsed on the bathroom floor having a seizure. An ambulance was called and on arrival, she was found to be unresponsive, with a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 3/15.
On arrival at A&E and after investigations, Mrs E was diagnosed with a haemorrhage, likely to be the result of a ruptured aneurysm. She was transferred to the emergency theatre.
Deterioration of symptoms
Mrs E underwent a CT scan after which a grade 4 subarachnoid haemorrhage was diagnosed. She had an external ventricular drain inserted in theatre and remained intubated. Her prognosis was noted to be poor.
Mrs E’s condition deteriorated overnight and the family was informed that there was no hope of a meaningful recovery. With their permission, her life support machine was switched off.
Following a Coroner’s inquest, the cause of death was certified as:
- Subarachnoid haemorrhage; and
- Cerebral aneurysm.
Following submissions at the Inquest, our client was informed that his wife’s death could not have been avoided because:
- It was acceptable not to identify the aneurysm in May 2017; and,
- Even if the aneurysm had been identified, it was small and would not have met the criteria for surgical treatment, so it would have ruptured and Mrs E would have died in any event.
After our Medical Negligence team obtained expert evidence of our own, our Interventional Radiology expert disagreed with this view. Their view was that it was negligent to fail to identify the aneurysm on the MRI scan, as it was clearly visible.
Following receipt of our expert evidence, a Letter of Claim was served on the Defendant Trust, and breach of duty was admitted in full by the Trust. However, the Trust were not prepared to admit that a diagnosis would have made any difference.
As a consequence, we obtained Neurosurgical expert evidence, after which it was confirmed that if the aneurysm had been identified in May 2017, Mrs E would have been offered surgical treatment and her death would have been avoided.
The Defendant admitted causation in 2022.
Our client claimed damages for his wife’s pain and suffering under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, and his financial and services dependency on his wife under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. After liability was admitted, Mr E’s claim was fully quantified and we provided our settlement advice.
The claim was settled following a Joint Settlement Meeting between the parties for a total of £495,000.
If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of medical negligence, you may be eligible to claim compensation.