Two years ago a 51 year old lady from Prestonpans, East Lothian, collapsed in her home, suffering from a heart attack and her relatives, including her husband age 60, and their son and three daughters, were told by her doctors that she was “technically dead”. They turned off her life support systems and expected her to become “medically dead” before the hour ended. However, 45 minutes later, her family standing by her side noticed that she was still breathing. Her doctors then decided to re-start her treatment but her family has found her to have serious medical negligence brain damage as a result of what they did. She had to learn again how to walk and talk and is like a child, needing full-time care. It is only recently that she learned how to dress and feed herself.
As a result, the members her family are planning to sue NHS for £5 million in damages, claiming that doctors were mistaken in turning off her life-support machines as they allegedly felt she no longer needed treatment. If the family wins the suit, it could be a compensation case that is one of the largest cases of medical negligence brain damage in Scotland.
According to her eldest daughter, aged 33, although her mother can talk and walk now, she is in a child-like state and has difficulty recognising her own children and grandchildren. The lady knows her daughter’s name but does associate her name with it being the name of her daughter just someone that she knows. She also has no memory retention and can get confused very easily. It is a terrible case of medical negligence brain damage.
She added that her mother will need two healthcare professionals around the clock for the rest of her life, as a result of the medical negligence brain damage that she suffered. This is why the family is suing so that she can get the care she needs at home. She feels the hospital was responsible for her care and was negligent in providing it. Now she can only go home for three days a week for a few hours at a time and the family is very uncertain about her future and her care.
The family is also suing the general practitioner as well because the lady went to see him two weeks before she had the heart attack complaining of chest pains but he did nothing about it.
According to a lawyer based in London who specialises in brain and spinal cord injuries it is possible that the family could get the £5 million in compensation they seek if they are successful. This would include the £250,000 that will be needed every year to pay for her care at home. However, he added that the case was not clear-cut as experts would have to prove that it was brain damage medical negligence on the part of the hospital that has caused her current condition and not the heart attack.
The medical director of NHS Lothian, was unable to comment on the case on behalf of the health board as it is currently involved in legal proceedings. The decision as to whether it is medical negligence brain damage as a result of poor care goes on.