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  • Overview

    Fiona Mills, specialist clinical negligence lawyer based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured £700,000 for claimant who sustained a brain injury following a substandard tympanoplasty surgery on his ear and mismanagement of his post-operative infection.

    The claimant in this clinical negligence claim was a 28 year old man from Stevenage who had been suffering from earaches and a discharge from the ear. He was admitted to the Lister Hospital, Stevenage and was diagnosed with extensive cholesteatoma (a destructive ear disease caused by infection).

    He underwent an elective combined approach tympanoplasty surgery (reconstruction of the eardrum) and was discharged from hospital the following day. However, the claimant started to suffer from headaches, vomiting, chills and general discomfort. Four days after his surgery he was re-admitted to hospital and underwent a CT scan which showed a left subdural collection, thought to be an empyema caused by infected tissue (pus collecting around the brain). He was prescribed antibiotics.

    The following day he was transferred to the Royal Free Hospital, London. At the time, he was suffering with reduced hearing but he was otherwise, alert and using all four limbs. He was communicating verbally and was not noted to be suffering with any neurological deficit. Pus was discharging from the operation site and the claimant was told this had been sent to microbiology for testing. He was treated with antibiotics and told that the collection of fluid over the surface of the brain was of low density and causing no significant pressure on the brain.

    Three days later he developed difficulty in speaking. An urgent MRI scan was performed which identified an increase in the size of the subdural collection over the three days. The claimant was taken for emergency surgical decompression, drainage of the fluid and thorough cleaning of the area.

    The claimant began to suffer from recurrent, complex, partial seizures. He contracted right-sided chest sepsis.

    The claimant developed a fever 15 days later and underwent a left radical mastoidectomy (removal of diseased cells from the hollow space in the skull, behind the ear). He also had a meatoplasty (widening of the ear canals) and repair of the prolapsed brain tissue. After this, the claimant had problems with his right arm and difficulty with communicating.

    A few weeks later he had ongoing cerebritis (an infection of the brain). Two months after his surgery the claimant was transferred from the Royal Free Hospital to the Regional Rehabilitation Unit. He continued to have problems with communication and higher level thinking skills, such as problem solving.

    Fiona Mills, acting for the claimant in this claim, argued that the tympanoplasty surgery and his clinical management under the care of the Lister Hospital, including his antibiotic therapy, fell below a reasonable standard. It was also argued that whilst a subdural empyema was an extremely serious condition with 50% mortality rate, had the claimant been managed appropriately at the Royal Free Hospital, the infection would never have reached such a serious and advanced stage, he would not have required the additional treatment and,, would not have suffered the long term effects which he now has.

    This was a complex case and after obtaining expert opinions and negotiations, Fiona Mills was able to obtain an out of court settlement of £700,000 for the claimant to compensate him for his pain and suffering, and for the impact the remaining disability has had on his life.

    Fiona Mills specialises in ENT and brain injury cases. If you would like to ask Fiona a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any clinical negligence, contact Fiona at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701286 in confidence.

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