The woman, whose identity is anonymised, went into the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital for treatment for a swollen right wrist, suspected to be caused by a small and treatable bone cyst, which involved injections of the drug doxycycline.
The woman noticed the pain after participating in boxing classes at school. Her GP sent her for tests at the hospital which revealed unusual lumps in her wrist. The advice was to undergo the injections which should solve the problem and involved a half-hour procedure under gas.
Two hours after the procedure, her mother was called into the recovery room and told her that her daughter would not wake up. The doctor admitted that sometimes too much sedative caused such problems but that he had no idea what had happened. The doctor did admit that the procedure the girl had undergone was relatively new and untested.
A scan then showed that something had gone into the girl's brain and 'showered' it with an unknown substance. She was taken by ambulance for specialist intensive care treatment at St George's Hospital where it was identified she had suffered severe brain damage. In addition, they could not risk operating on a blocked artery in her arm and eventually it was amputated below the elbow. She remained in a coma for three weeks.
Jane Weakley was instructed by the woman's family to investigate a negligence case where evidence was produced that had blood tests been performed at an early stage as intended, hyperparathyroidism and a Brown tumour would have been diagnosed which would have been treated conservatively with calcium and vitamin injections. The hospital trust made a full admission of liability.
The woman has been left with ongoing cognitive problems because of brain damage, lacks capacity, has hearing loss and struggles to organise herself. She lives at home with her mother who looks after her, including helping her to dress.
Ongoing rehabilitation including fitting of an electric hand have allowed her to pursue her dream of studying at university, with one-to-one additional support, but she will live with permanent brain damage impacting her daily life and limiting her choices.
Jane Weakley said that the settlement will provide all the care, support and therapies needed to help her achieve her best potential. Fieldfisher's Court of Protection team is instructed to manage the woman's financial affairs following settlement.
After approving the award, Judge Justice Johnson, the woman had shown ‘immense fortitude’ in returning to her studies and doing so well.
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