ABC, whose identity is protected by anonymity order, was a 28 year old woman who suffered a catastrophic hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury caused by the asphyxiation of her own vomit. The tragic events left ABC in a minimally conscious state (MCS) with a vastly shortened life expectancy. The claim involved complex issues of causation and quantification, as prior to the index events ABC suffered with severe autism and learning difficulties and was predominantly cared for by the local authority.
Between around May and July 2015, ABC suffered various symptoms including a sore throat, swallowing difficulties, reduced fluid intake and urinary output, significant weight loss and vomiting. She was admitted to the Defendant's hospital on a few occasions for monitoring and treatment of her symptoms. Her condition continued to deteriorate and she was re-admitted in around mid-July with signs and symptoms of sepsis. Despite ABC's continuing deterioration, evidenced through alarming NEWS scores, an elevated lactate and very poor urinary output; the Defendant failed to escalate ABC's care to the critical care team. The Defendant also failed to administer the appropriate antibiotics which would have prevented ABC becoming critically unwell. It was also ABC's case that had her care been appropriately escalated, she would have been monitored and observed on an hourly basis which, on balance, would have prevent the asphyxiation and therefore her catastrophic brain injury.
Proceedings were issued and served on behalf of ABC. The Defendant served a Defence denying liability, broadly asserting that ABC's injuries were non-negligently caused as she did not satisfy the criteria to be escalated to critical care.
In light of ABC's shortened life expectancy, early quantification of the claim took place. This included a SMART assessment to ascertain whether ABC was in MCS or PVS (persistent vegetative state) as such distinction would determine the appropriate level of rehabilitation.
The Defendant suggested an early mediation which resulted in a seven figure settlement of the claim.
Aside from liability, ABC's legal team had to prove that her case should be distinguished from the case of Reaney i.e. that her care needs following the negligence were qualitatively different to her pre-existing needs resulting from severe autism.
Iona Meeres-Young was assisted by Emma Kendall. Counsel was Henry Witcomb QC of One Crown Office Row.
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