A compensation award of over £1.6m for a failure to diagnose a brain injury has been made to thirty six year old former opera singer Elaine Lennon.
Thirty six year old Elaine was an award-winning opera singer, with a successful future ahead of her both as a singer and as a recently qualified psychologist. However, in February 2007, she started suffering from headaches during the pregnancy of her daughter Claudia, and attended the accident and emergency unit at hospital.
There, the judge was told, she was diagnosed by a medical registrar as suffering from a urinary tract infection and referred to a midwife, who assessed she was about to give birth and ordered that Elaine underwent a Caesarean section to deliver Claudia.
Claudia was born a healthy baby, but the headaches and the neck stiffness continued and Elaine failed to respond to antibiotics. Doctors twice queried whether a CT scan of her brain should be performed but did not carry one out, and Elaine and her baby were discharged a week after the birth.
If a CT scan of Elaine´s brain had been undertaken at the time, doctors would have noticed an abscess which later burst into the ventricles.However, she attended her GP´s clinic at Castle Mill Medical Centre, Balbriggan, where the doctor administered an injection which temporarily stopped the headaches and vomiting which had developed.
Dr. Mathun checked on Elaine several days later, determined that she was suffering from post-natal depression and prescribed a sedative. Later that day, she collapsed at home and was admitted to the hospital’s emergency department by ambulance. The following morning, Elaine had two seizures after which a CT scan was performed which revealed the extent of Elaine´s illness.
In the action through her father, the court heard how Elaine is now confined to a wheelchair and can only speak in a whisper. She also requires twenty-four hour care due to the doctors failing to notice her brain injury.
Approving an interim compensation settlement of £1.6m, Mr. Justice John Quirke stated that, were it not for her injuries, Elaine had the potential to make a lot of money in the future. Liability was admitted in the case.