High-value clinical negligence cases can be extremely complex and hard-fought but lawyers who specialise in the field are well able to rise to the challenge. In a case on point, a middle-aged woman whose life was devastated by an avoidable stroke won the right to substantial compensation.
The woman suffered from muscular dystrophy and atrial fibrillation and was fitted with a pacemaker. It had long been recognised that she was at risk of suffering a stroke but, against medical advice, she had for many years resisted treatment with anti-coagulant – blood-thinning – drugs, apart from aspirin. After she suffered a massive stroke at the age of 52, resulting in permanent disabilities, she launched a clinical negligence claim against an NHS trust.
Three days before she suffered the stroke, she attended a hospital accident and emergency department after suffering pins and needles in her cold and white right leg. On the first day of the hearing of her claim, the trust admitted that medical staff had been negligent in failing to give her an injection of anti-coagulant drug heparin. Despite her history of resisting such treatment, the trust also conceded that she would have agreed to a heparin injection had she been so advised.
In upholding her claim after a four-day trial, the court found that, had she been given heparin when she should have been, a blood clot that had formed around her heart would have been rendered smaller and more stable. On the balance of probabilities, she would not have suffered the stroke. If not agreed, the amount of her award will be assessed at a further hearing.