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Subdural Empyema

View profile for Melanie Reynolds
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Total Damages: £120,000 (£120,233.01 RPI)
Trial/settlement date: 1/12/2014
Age at trial: 28

The Claimant, a 28-year-old man, received total damages of £120,000 after he developed a subdural empyema (collection of pus) and subsequent epilepsy as a result of the negligent management of his cholesteatoma and a delay in ear surgery.

The Claimant had a history of recurrent ear infections for which he had attended and been treated by his GP.

In December 2009  the Claimant presented at his GP with a history of multiple episodes of left ear pain and an odorous discharge from the ear. An ENT referral was made to a hospital of the Defendant Trust and Claimant attended the appointment on 25 February 2010. A diagnosis of a probable attic-cholesteatoma was made and the Claimant was prescribed antibiotic drops.

He attended a follow up appointment in March 2010. During that appointment the presence of a deep attic cavity was identified and it was noted that he had hearing loss. A CT scan of his middle ear was arranged and confirmed appearances suggestive of a cholesteatoma.

On 11 May 2010 the Claimant attended a surgical follow up appointment where he was advised that he would require exploration of his attic and possibly his mastoid.

On 18 August 2010 the Claimant presented at Accident and Emergency with ear ache. A swab was taken for microbiology culture and Gentisone ear drops were commenced.

Whilst awaiting surgery, the Claimant presented at Accident and Emergency department again on 31 August 2010. He was noted to be incontinent, pyrexial, confused and had an on-going aural discharge. Upon the results of an MRI scan the following day, he was transferred to a neurosurgery unit at another hospital and the presence of a left occipital subdural empyema was confirmed.

On 5 September 2010 he underwent a left mastoid exploration and partial excision of the cholesteatoma; with this not being fully excised. Following the procedure the Claimant's level of consciousness reduced and he suffered from a suspected epileptic fit. An increase in the size of the subdural empyema was then confirmed and a mini craniotomy was conducted later that day; in order to evacuate the empyema.

He sustained injury and brought an action against the Defendant  alleging it was negligent in delaying listing for his surgery which had caused him to suffer a preventable empyema.

Liability was admitted.

Injuries: Development of a subdural empyema (collection of pus) and epilepsy. 

Total injury duration: 24 months

Out of Court Settlement: £120,000 total damages

The case was settled on a global basis with no particular breakdown of damages. However, the following breakdown was estimated by the Claimant's solicitors:

Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £50,000.

Breakdown of special damages: £70,000 (including past care and assistance, past loss of earnings, past travel expenses and future treatment costs).

For more information or to contact a member of our Clinical Negligence team click here.