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Member's son wins help after medical negligence

1 November 2011

Advice from Morrish Solicitors

braile reader

When James was a young child, he suffered repeated headaches, which his GP and specialists could not successfully diagnose. When he had just turned eight years old, Stacey, his mother, took him for his first X-ray.

“He was so brave at the time,” she says today. “He kept perfectly still while the machine scanned his head. I remember the radiologist telling him to keep his eyes shut and I was so worried that he might take a peek at the wrong time. Curiosity used to get the better of him. But he was as good as gold. I remember taking him for ice-cream afterwards. He’d been so good he was allowed to pick whatever he wanted. He chose a kind of toffee ripple and wanted to have it dipped in this topping that he hadn’t seen before but had noticed in the display. That was before he lost his eyesight, of course.”

The doctors at the time said that the X-ray was inconclusive, and continued to run other tests. It took doctors so long to diagnose James’ brain tumour that he had already lost sight in both eyes before they could determine the cause of the headaches and his other presenting symptoms.

While James underwent surgery to have the tumour – a non-cancerous -meningioma – removed, Stacey and the family got the devastating news from a specialist who reviewed James’ case notes. The tumour was evident in the X-ray James had so bravely undergone years before, but doctors at the time had failed to diagnose it. Because James was a child, Stacey was able to bring a medical negligence claim against the authority through Legal Aid. An Area Performance Manager and long-standing member of TSSA, Stacey approached TSSA’s injury experts, Morrish Solicitors, for advice.

“I’ve never had any interest in claiming for compensation, but my son had gone blind and the people who could have intervened had failed to do so. To me this was clear cut example of negligence and I could not face the idea that it would happen to someone else. I went to Morrish because TSSA had been with them for years, they specialise in this area of work and, with a franchise in Legal Aid, it meant that I could afford to bring the claim. If I’d had to pay for the fees myself there is no way I could afford to bring the claim for what happened to James.”

Stacey met with Jane at Morrish’s, who used James’ case notes and evidence from independent medical experts to establish that James had a viable claim. At first the authority denied any wrong-doing, and it was only after Jane filed Court Proceedings and had instructed Counsel that they conceded liability.

“I was stunned, and frankly disgusted, at how far the Defendants were willing to go to play hardball. My son could no longer see and they were at fault but they argued every insignificant point. Jane was a very calming influence and took it all in her stride.”

Meanwhile James’ surgery had been successful. The tumour was removed, but his eyesight would never recover. He needed to adapt his home and his lifestyle to his new condition as a member of the blind community. “It was agony to watch him every day. Through it all, he was trying to be brave, just like at that first X-ray. There were times when it got too much for him. He was a teenager by then. The number of times I found him crying, it was heart-breaking. But even when he’d been torn up about losing his sight, he would say to me afterward ‘I’m OK, Mum. I’ve still got you and the family, right?’ Well, what mother wouldn’t be proud of that?”

Negotiations continued and finally the day came when Jane advised Stacey to accept the other side’s offer. The compensation, which will reach seven figures, includes interim payments to help James during the negotiations, a lump sum payment to help him adapt his living environment, and periodic payments through his life. “I would not have known where to turn to get help for my son. Thankfully TSSA has incredible lawyers.”

Based on a real life case. Details have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent. Morrish Solicitors LLP specialises in medical negligence cases. Although the coalition government now plans to cut Legal Aid for medical negligence claims, steps are underway to keep them ‘in scope’.

For more information, please refer to www.soundofffor justice.org Morrish Solicitors is a Limited Liability Partnership and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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