Acquired Brain Injury Claims
In the context of medical negligence litigation, acquired brain injuries refer to brain injuries which occur, but which could have been prevented or at least significantly reduced if competent medical care had been provided.
The area of medicine which deals with conditions and diseases of the brain and spinal cord is called Neurology and this encompasses a wide variety of conditions including subarachnoid haemorrhage, meningitis, the common stroke and cerebral abscess. Indeed, a neurological injury can be caused due to a failure to deal with an underlying medical condition e.g. undiagnosed and untreated hypertension and renal failure causing hypertensive encephalopathy, seizures and ultimately brain damage. Alternatively, delay in treatment of uncontrolled hydrocephalus to relieve raised intracranial pressure.
While it may not be possible to prevent some of these conditions from arising in the first instance, in many cases, competent diagnosis and treatment can lead to a much better outcome. A failure to provide adequate medical care can have catastrophic consequences for the person who suffers the brain injury. We have recently settled cases where adults acquired catastrophic brain injuries due to medical negligence. In one instance this was due to an undiagnosed and untreated cerebral abscess which ruptured into the ventricles, causing very severe brain damage so that the patient requires lifelong care. In another case, in which we obtained one of the highest awards in this Jurisdiction, the patient acquired severe brain damage as a result of an undiagnosed subarachnoid haemorrhage. In another recent case we won substantial damages for the failure to secure adequate and informed consent from the patient prior to risky neurosurgery to treat epilepsy.
Furthermore, treatment for a neurological problem can itself be negligent. Operations can be negligently performed by Neurosurgeons resulting in damage which could otherwise have been avoided. It is also the case that the wrong procedure might be carried out or the standard of post-operative care following such a complicated procedure may be inadequate.
Infants may also suffer a catastrophic brain injury during the antenatal, intrapartum or immediate post birth period. See Cerebral Palsy & Birth Injury Claims.
Recent cases of note
Interim award in February 2011 was €2.4 million and costs
April 2013, further interim award for one year only €310,000 plus costs
June 2014 – Third interim award for three years –€895,000 plus costs
1.6 million for patient who suffered serious brain injury during course of neurosurgery to treat epilepsy
2016 - An award of 15.6 million in damages for child who suffered brain damage in utero as a result of failing to diagnose and treat rhesus incompatability disease
2017 – Damages of 15 million awarded to 4 year old boy who suffered oxygen deprivation during birth as a result of failure to properly monitor his heart