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Newham University Hospital

Following what should have been routine nasal surgery, Mr H, aged 25 at the time, suffered brain injury at the Gateway Centre at Newham University Hospital, part of Barts Health NHS Trust. The effect of the injury on him and his wife has been devastating.

It remains unclear exactly what happened when Mr H underwent surgery in September 2013. The operation was a revision septoplasty performed with the intention of improving his airway and thus his breathing. Rather than by the anaesthetist, Mr H was intubated by the ENT surgeon, who mistakenly passed the endotracheal tube into his oeseophagus rather than his trachea. This caused a substantial period of hypoxaemia (oxygen deficiency).

When staff noticed the error, Mr H was re-sedated and rushed to the ITU where he underwent cooling.

Sadly, Mr H sustained a profound but subtle brain injury. Anyone meeting him, unaware of what had happened, might not immediately recognise he had a brain injury. This made the assessment of damages complex and resulted in fiercely contested litigation against the defendant. The Trust argued that Mr H's deficits were minimal and that the case was therefore worth very little. Through tenacity and a raft of brilliant experts, we eventually settled the case for several million pounds which will help fund the right care for Mr H for life.

Image credit: Photo © Stephen Craven (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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