Accident and emergency departments are busy places and, although medics do their best, standards of care do not always attain acceptable levels. That was sadly so in the case of a father who was suffering from a serious brain infection when he was twice sent home from hospital.
The man was in his 50s when he attended an accident and emergency department on two consecutive days. He had suffered a seizure and was allegedly in a state of confusion at the time. He was suffering from encephalitis, a grave inflammation of the brain, but was discharged home on both occasions.
The infection caused profound neurological damage. Suffering from severe amnesia, he is unable to retain or process information. His speech is slow and repetitive and his personality has undergone a marked change. Rigid in his behaviour and requiring to follow a strict regime, he is no longer the same man.
The NHS trust that ran the hospital disputed the extent of confusion that he exhibited when he attended A&E. It also argued that he would have suffered at least some injury even had his condition been diagnosed and treated earlier.
Following negotiations, however, the trust agreed to a £2.7 million lump-sum settlement of his clinical negligence claim. Through its barrister, it acknowledged that he had been entitled to expect a much better standard of care. The High Court had no hesitation in approving the settlement.