A judge has ruled that a hospital which admitted negligence for failing in its duty of care to treat a female stroke victim, was not responsible for her disability and eventual loss of life.
A 42 year old mother was taken by ambulance to hospital when she fell ill after suffering a stroke at her parent’s house on Mother’s Day. However, her husband was told by the hospital that she was only suffering from a migraine and should go home and “sleep it off”.
As a result of the stroke, the mother was left severely disabled and in need of therapy to learn how to talk again. Her changed behaviour also led the couple’s nine year old son to believe that his mum had really died and been replaced by “another body”. Tragically, the mother passed away unexpectedly four years later at the age of 46.
At the initial High Court hearing, the husband argued that his wife’s outcome may have been different if the hospital had not failed to “diagnose his wife's condition properly”. Her disability had deeply affected their son who revealed during counselling sessions that he no longer believed she was his real mum.
The Hospital Trust and the NHS commissioning board disputed the timing of the onset of the stroke symptoms and denied liability.
Failed to prove hospital negligence
After a two week adjournment, the High Court judge ruled that the family’s lawyers had failed to prove that the hospital’s admitted negligence caused the mother’s disabilities and eventual death.
The court accepted that the hospital was in “breach of its duty of care” and the case “highlighted failures in the system”. However, the judge said that, even if the appropriate medication had been given by the hospital staff at the time, “the tragic outcome would most likely have still occurred”. The court, therefore, dismissed the claim for compensation.
The husband said that he had never received any apologies from the hospital trust, which would have been helpful for his son, and viewed the High Court ruling as “hugely disappointing”.
Following the hearing, a spokeswoman for the NHS Trust expressed their “sincere regret”. They also apologised for the “shortfalls” in the management of the case, which meant the mother was discharged “when she should have remained in hospital”.