Ronan Hynes, Partner of the Sellors Healthcare Team has represented an individual who suffered a stroke at the age of 21 but the diagnosis of which was delayed for several days causing permanent neurological damage. The individual attended the Accident & Emergency Department of University Hospital Limerick with classic stroke type symptoms of sudden onset severe headache, weakness in the right arm and leg, and loss of vision on the right side. A CT brain scan was carried out and was said to be normal. The individual’s symptoms deteriorated further to include slurring of speech and disorientation. A brain MRI scan was ordered but was not carried out for a further 6 days, which revealed evidence of infarction (i.e. tissue death) in the brain. In essence, over 6 days following admission to hospital, the appropriate diagnosis of stroke was made but the individual had suffered greater and permanent neurological damage due to the delay in diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
Expert evidence was obtained from a leading consultant neurologist in the UK which concluded by virtue of the late assessment, investigation and treatment, there was a material contribution to the individual’s permanent neurological deficits. The expert asserted that in stroke situations, time is brain and therefore the longer in delay of assessment, investigation and treatment, the greater the likelihood of neurological damage.
An expert report was also obtained from an Accident and Emergency expert who concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, a responsible body of emergency department clinicians would have both triaged the individual for quicker assessment and, have included stoke in the differential diagnosis. Therefore, the medical evidence from the Plaintiff’s legal team argued that the individual should have been investigated further and these investigations would have included angiography or MRI scanning.
The case opened before Mr. Justice Gareth Simmons in the High Court in Dublin and was ultimately compromised out of Court with the HSE without an admission of liability for a substantial, undisclosed sum.
Ronan Hynes speaking of the settlement commented that: “Unfortunately, this was an adverse medical event which could have been prevented. Our client is left with permanent neurological deficits. The medical literature indicates that stroke is not uncommon in young adults and a diagnosis of a stroke should have been considered by the hospital in this case. The most important stroke treatment is time. Time is brain. Prompt assessment, diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing brain damage and long-term disability. Remember the acronym FAST (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) to help identify classic stroke symptoms such as paralysis, numbness or weakness in the arm, face and leg particularly on one side of the body, slurring of speech, confusion, disorientation, visual field loss, loss of balance and coordination, seizures, nausea and vomiting or sudden severe headache with an unknown cause.”
If you would like more information on this topic or indeed general assistance, please contact Ronan Hynes, Partner in the Healthcare Team at Sellors by email at [email protected] or on 061 414 355.