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Severe brain injury after delay in diagnosis of thyroid condition - £3.9 million
Andrew is severely physically and mentally disabled after a genetic thyroid condition he was born with went undiagnosed for years and caused severe brain damage. Sally Leonards, a partner in the JMW medical negligence team, obtained a compensation settlement of £3.9 million for Andrew that has enabled him to have access to specialist care and accommodation suitable for his disabilities and financial security.
Early warning signs
Andrew spent a week in the special care baby unit after his birth due to low blood sugars and low body temperature. He was discharged but continued to have outpatient appointments due to concerns about his feeding and development. When Andrew was a few months old paediatricians found his development to be significantly delayed particularly in relation to his vision and mobility.
Over the next few months Andrew had regular appointments with paediatricians. As he got older he developed new symptoms and around the age of one he was twice admitted to hospital; once after becoming floppy and the second time after he suffered a convulsion. Andrew was in fact suffering from a significant thyroid condition but despite ongoing appointments with paediatricians the correct tests were not ordered and no diagnosis was made, delaying appropriate treatment.
Collapse and severe brain injury
As a toddler Andrew continued to suffer seizures and there were concerns about his development particularly his mobility, behaviour and learning. However there was still no correct diagnosis due to the lack of tests which would have revealed his abnormal thyroid function. The ongoing absence of appropriate treatment for Andrew led to his collapse aged 11 and emergency admission to hospital.
Andrew suffered a significant brain injury and this instigated further investigations and finally a correct diagnosis of septo-optic dysplasia. However it was now too late to limit the extent of the damage the condition caused to Andrew’s brain. Andrew would have had some degree of brain damage despite the delay in diagnosis and his collapse but this would not have been so severe and he would have been able to live independently without the need for 24-hour specialist carers and his many other extensive requirements.
After his collapse and the devastating news of the severity of his permanent brain damage, Andrew’s family were put in touch with the brain injury specialists at JMW. Andrew’s family felt there were numerous opportunities for an earlier diagnosis and for treatment to be started. A thorough investigation by JMW, which gathered evidence from independent medical experts, found that errors had been made and Andrew should have been diagnosed much earlier, preventing his collapse and the severity of his brain injury. The NHS trust did not admit negligence but agreed they should pay compensation to Andrew and a settlement of £3.9 million was negotiated by JMW’s Sally Leonards.