Woman compensated for misdiagnosis

Posted: 27th July 2017

AmbulanceAmbulance personnel can make mistakes in emergency situations but it is only right that damages are paid if they are negligent. In one case, a woman who was left badly disabled after a life-threatening brain inflammation was misdiagnosed by a paramedic won a seven-figure compensation package from the NHS.

The woman’s family thought that she might be having a stroke when they called an ambulance. She was in fact suffering from encephalitis, which the paramedic wrongly diagnosed as a urinary tract infection. That lulled the woman and her family into a false sense of security and it was only four or five days later that a correct diagnosis was made and she received appropriate treatment.

That came too late to save her from serious brain damage and she has since been wholly dependent on the care and supervision of others, particularly her husband. She is very restless and demanding, has no short-term memory and has a tendency to talk inappropriately to strangers, making her particularly vulnerable.

The ambulance trust that employed the paramedic admitted liability and, following negotiations with the woman’s lawyers, agreed to a final settlement of her case. She will receive an £875,000 lump sum, plus index-linked and tax-free annual payments to cover the costs of her care for life. The total value of the settlement, which was approved by the High Court, was just short of £3.5 million.