In January 2021, Matthew Brown settled the case of a 72-year-old woman who had been left with hemiplegia, permanent paralysis to one side of her body, after staff on an acute stroke ward failed to recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke and administer thrombolysis to disperse a blood clot.

Woman Left With Permanent Right-sided Paralysis After Hospital Staff Failed to Recognise Signs and Symptoms of Stroke is Awarded £400,000 Compensation

The claimant (C) experienced a sudden aching sensation in her right arm while at home in November 2013 and believed she was having a stroke. After calling 999, paramedics’ examination determined she was FAST positive, using the Face, Arm, and Speech Test. She was blue-lighted to hospital during which her symptoms appeared to improve.

At the hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit, the diagnosis was of a possible transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke. With TIAs, symptoms may last a short time, but it can be a warning sign that a stroke is imminent. She was admitted to the acute stroke ward for observation.

At around 3 a.m., C felt increasing weakness in her right hand and reported this to a healthcare assistant who reassured her and encouraged her to go back to sleep. But when she woke the next morning, she was paralysed down her right side.

A Consultant noted that it was “disappointing not considered for thrombolysis.” Thrombolysis is a clot-busting drug that helps to restore normal blood flow to the brain and should be administered within four and a half hours of symptoms starting for utmost efficiency. Receiving thrombolysis increases the prospects of survival and a more complete recovery in victims of stroke.

Muscle power examination revealed reduced power in her right arm (3/5) and right leg (4/5) in comparison to normal power (5/5) on the left side. The following day, C felt a dense weakness in both her right arm and leg the muscle power score in each had fallen to 1/5.

Almost three weeks later, following inpatient physiotherapy, C was assessed as beginning to mobilise, able to take a few assisted steps, despite her muscle power scores being 2/5 in her leg and 0/5 in her arm. The next day, C was deemed medically stable and ready for discharge home.

Back at home, C decided to complain about the treatment provided. Her husband drafted a letter which was treated by the hospital as a Letter of Claim. Four months later, the Defendant Hospital Trust (D) responded with an admission of breach of duty of care in relation to the lack of a rapid review by a nurse when C complained of weakness at 3 a.m. However, they denied causation, asserting that it was unlikely that any such review by a nurse would have resulted in an urgent call to the on-call doctor, a stroke diagnosis, or thrombolysis offered.

For legal advice, C approached Matthew Brown at Medical Solicitors after another law firm rejected a potential claim on the advice of a barrister.

In relation to medical causation, C alleged that had she been given prompt thrombolysis, she would have made an excellent recovery from the stroke.  D disputed this claim, declaring that on the balance of probabilities, thrombolysis wouldn’t have altered C’s outcome.

Matthew called upon the evidence of experts in the fields of stroke medicine, stroke rehabilitation and care/occupational therapy.

Despite extensive pre-action correspondence and mediation, the parties couldn’t come to an agreement so court proceedings were served. However, less than less than two weeks before trial, a settlement of £400,000 was reached though liability was never admitted.

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Case settled by

Matthew Brown

Senior Legal Executive