The Plaintiff, a middle-aged woman, presented to an out of hours GP service complaining of acute headaches associated with neck stiffness, dizziness, confusion, slurred speech, photophobia and ataxia. The Plaintiff was referred to her local regional hospital where she was admitted overnight with a plan for a CT scan. However, following a ward round the next morning, the CT scan was cancelled, and the Plaintiff was subsequently discharged home with a diagnosis of musculoskeletal neck pain. The Plaintiff attended at her own GP the following day who advised that she should have a CT brain scan. This was performed 8 days after her initial presentation to hospital. The CT scan was reported as normal.
The Plaintiff was due to travel for a family holiday and having been given the clear to fly, she travelled as planned to a foreign jurisdiction. Whilst there the Plaintiff was admitted to a medical centre with a three-day history of a left sided third cranial nerve palsy. A CT angiography was carried out which showed a posterior communicating artery aneurysm with evidence of haemorrhage. The aneurysm was clipped and the Plaintiff went on to develop post-operative hydrocephalus for which she received a ventricular peritoneal shunt. The Plaintiff continues to suffer from residual neurological problems including a third nerve palsy and some short-term memory problems.
Expert reports were obtained from a wide variety of specialties including general medicine, neurosurgery and neuroradiology to deal with the issue of liability. It was the Plaintiff’s case that the decision to discharge the Plaintiff without performing a CT scan was substandard and the Plaintiff would have avoided the injuries she suffered had a timely diagnosis taken place. The CT scan which was performed 8 days following her initial presentation was reported as normal as the sensitivity for CT scanning falls off rapidly with time after the event. A CT scan performed during her admission to hospital would however have identified the bleed.
Proceedings were issued in the matter in June 2015 and the matter was ultimately fixed for Trial. Liability was admitted by the Defendant and settlement negotiations took place between the parties and the matter resolved in the sum of €1.9 million and costs.
If you have any further queries, please contact Jamie Hart, Partner in our Medical Negligence Group.
10 December 2018