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Subdural haematoma went undetected

Beryl, aged 75, suffered a closed head injury and fractured wrist when she fell down some stairs while on holiday. The local hospital recognised the wrist fracture and noted a bang to the head. She was given a plaster cast and told to attend hospital when she was back home at the end of her holiday. 

After the holiday her family and GP were concerned that her mental state was deteriorating. She was seen twice at hospital but discharged after assessment. Her condition deteriorated further and she was rushed into hospital where a CT scan showed a massive subdural haematoma. She was transferred to a specialist unit where the haematoma was evacuated.

She recovered well in many respects, but was left with subtle but important cognitive damage such that she was unable to live alone.

The case was transferred to Boyes Turner's medical negligence solicitors after her existing solicitors had failed to make headway in the compensation claim.

We argued that the hospital should have picked up on the GP and family’s concern of deteriorating mental state, had they examined her properly they would have done a CT scan and diagnosed her evolving subdural haematoma. This may have resulted in the haematoma being diagnosed before the acute collapse, whilst it could still be treated. If this had happened, the collapse and associated cognitive damage would have been avoided. Beryl would have continued to be able to live independently.

The case was complicated by issues common in medical negligence compensation claims for the elderly. These included the defendants arguing that at first the changes were hard to identify and that even had the haematoma been identified sooner she would not have escaped her cognitive damage. The defendants argued that the CT scans showed significant pre existing cerebral atrophy and that it was this not the haematoma that meant that Beryl could not care for herself.

  • Compensation Received - £205,000.