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Boyes Turner’s medical negligence group has this week secured a favourable High Court judgment following a trial to determine whether failings in care caused a woman, Ms Cooper, serious brain injury.

In July 2005 Ms Cooper went into hospital to give birth to her son. Following a ruptured uterus, birth took place by emergency caesarean section. Five days later, whilst on the postnatal ward, Ms Cooper suffered a cardiac arrest which resulted in serious brain injury. She has been in a minimally responsive state since.

The court was asked to decide whether the cardiac arrest was caused by a cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), as Ms Cooper’s family believed, or post-partum eclampsia (PPE), as maintained by the hospital. If CVT was the cause of the cardiac arrest then the failure to administer the prescribed dose of the anti-coagulant heparin would have materially contributed to the occurrence of the CVT. The hospital denied liability throughout the case.

Both CVT and PPE are very rare complications of pregnancy and the issues involved in the case were extremely complex, requiring the use of a number of medical expert witnesses. After hearing all the evidence, His Honour Mr Justice Baker, said that on the balance of probabilities Ms Cooper suffered a CVT which led to the development of a focal and then general seizure. This in turn brought about an asystolic cardiac arrest and neurological damage.

Susan Brown, head of Boyes Turner’s Medical Negligence group, representing Ms Cooper’s family said:

“In over 20 years of practising in medical negligence work this is one of the saddest cases I have seen. What should have been one of the happiest events for the family ended in tragedy. It has been extremely difficult to unravel what happened to Ms Cooper in July 2005, but now we have, we can secure much needed financial support for her and her family”

Mr Harrington, Ms Cooper’s partner said:

“When tragedy is considered an act of God, or something that can’t be foreseen, it’s very difficult to come to terms with and is very distressing for all immediately concerned. However when tragedy can and should be avoided, by following protocol or a proven process, it’s even more challenging to accept. It’s good to see that justice has been served. However, lessons really should be learned and apparent independent reviews must highlight shortcomings, rather than trying to defend actions of individuals. Trust chief executives and senior management would really benefit from ensuring process is followed, as in this case there were too many issues left for chance. I would like to thank Susan Brown at Boyes Turner for her compassion, attention to detail and perseverance throughout the nine years this case has taken”.

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury from medical negligence then contact our specialist child brain injury team on 0118 952 7219 or email medneg@boyesturner.com.