Supreme Court Judgment To Provide Access To Care Package For Assault Victim


A&E Department Must Act Upon Lessons Learnt To Prevent Further ‘Avoidable’ Suffering

Medical law experts have today welcomed a Supreme Court judgment which will allow a man who suffered permanent brain damage as a result of a series of events that led to the delay in diagnosis of a serious head injury to pursue access to a ‘vital’ compensation care package.

Having been struck on the head during an assault in May, 2010, Michael Mark Junior Darnley, was taken to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at Mayday Hospital, Croydon by a friend who was concerned about his wellbeing.

But according to reports, despite repeated pleas for help amidst concerns that his condition was deteriorating and that he would soon pass out, the receptionist informed the duo that he would have to wait four to five hours to see a clinician – a wait Michael felt he was not able to manage in his current state, prompting him to leave and return home.

According to the court findings, within the hour he had become so distressed that an ambulance was called and on arrival back at the hospital he underwent a CT scan which identified bleeding on the brain.

He was transferred to St George’s Hospital where he underwent an emergency operation, but by then the damage caused by the failure to initially assess Michael for priority triage proved to be critical, and he was later diagnosed with permanent brain damage and paralysis.

The Supreme Court judgment, which was handed down on October 10th, found that the A&E receptionist at Croydon University Hospital failed to take reasonable steps to check that the waiting time information given to the victim of an assault was reasonably accurate; which under the circumstances, given the nature of the head wound, should have been in the region of 30 minutes.

The court found that had Michael been in receipt of this information he would have waited, been admitted, and treated much sooner.

The judgment means Michael’s family are now able to pursue a claim for compensation against Croydon Health Services NHS Trust that will provide access to vital funds to allow him to live as normal a life as possible in spite of his injuries.

Simpson Millar’s Geoffrey Simpson-Scott said: “Avoidable harm to patients sometimes arises before you see a doctor or nurse. In this case The Supreme Court has confirmed that the A&E Receptionist at Croydon University Hospital failed to take reasonable steps to check that the waiting time information she gave to a victim of an assault was reasonably accurate despite no special skill or expertise being required beyond that of an ordinary receptionist in an Emergency Dept”.

“The severe head injury caused by the assault worsened as a result, and the consequences of that, for Michael and his family, were quite catastrophic”.

“Whilst such an awful sequence of events is rare, it is imperative that any lessons that can be learned are acted upon to prevent any further, avoidable suffering”.

Careful legal advice is required with this sort of case and specialist clinical negligence solicitors should be contacted.

For further information, please contact Simpson Millar on 08082 748 750 or visit our website to complete an enquiry form.

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