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Record compensation payout for stroke victim: Treatment delayed as ambulance took her to the wrong hospital

Record compensation payout for stroke victim: Treatment delayed as ambulance took her to the wrong hospital

A 60-year-old grandmother has been awarded compensation after it transpired that ambulance staff took her to the incorrect hospital when she suffered a stroke in 2010. Instead of being transported to a specialist centre, Lynne Horner was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital. This mistake and delay in treating the stroke victim ultimately resulted in a serious, permanent neurological injury.


Finally treated four hours after her stroke

In July 2010, Lynne Horner, a grandmother-of-nine from Bolton, suffered a stroke. Her husband, David, immediately dialed the emergency services and requested an ambulance attend urgently.

Within 10 minutes, a rapid response paramedic had arrived and confirmed that Mrs Horner’s symptoms, which included slurred speech and confusion, were the result of a stroke. Just three minutes later, an ambulance paramedic arrived at the couple’s home and assessed Lynne, before concluding that she was in recovery. A further 20 minutes passed before she was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital.

Once at the Royal Bolton, Mrs Horner was left waiting for two and a half hours before it was confirmed that she had indeed suffered a right-sided stroke. She was then transferred to the specialist Hope Hospital in Salford, now the Salford Royal, for thrombolysis treatment to reduce blood clots. However, as more than four hours had passed since the stroke when she was finally treated, it was not possible to deliver effective treatment and Mrs Horner suffered permanent neurological injury and was left paralysed.

No blue lights were used; it was like a ride out rather than an emergency

Reliving the day his wife suffered her stroke, Mr Horner, a retired garage mechanic, said:

“I remember the paramedic stating that he didn’t know what to do or which hospital to take my wife to and when we eventually got into the ambulance, it certainly didn’t seem that they were in a rush. There was no blue light used and I noticed a number of cars quickly passing us on the motorway.

I was really worried about Lynn and couldn’t understand why they were being so slow, it felt like they were on a ride out rather than dealing with an emergency. When we eventually got to Hope Hospital having firstly been taken to Bolton, I remember one of the medical staff asking what had taken us so long to get there.”

Since 2008, all patients who suffer a serious or life-threatening stroke in the Bolton region should be sent immediately to the specialist unit at the Salford Royal. The unit is able to provide quicker access to scans, consultants and treatments. Further, since the beginning of 2010, stroke suffers have been sent to Salford for thrombolysis if it is within three hours of their symptoms beginning.

Due to the catastrophic consequences of the decision not to take Mrs Horner to the correct hospital, her husband commenced legal action on her behalf. Admitting liability, the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust accepted that the decision was negligent and in breach of its duty of care, with Mrs Horner awarded over £1 million in compensation. Chief executive Bob Williams issued an apology on behalf of the Trust.

“The NWAS is very sorry that the care given to Mrs Horner did not meet the standard she was entitled to expect and for the distress this has caused her family. In the five years since this incident occurred, the clinical supervision, learning, and support given to the ambulance crews for stroke pathway has greatly advanced.

“In this case, the Judge’s observations have been carefully considered. The matter of proper compensation for Mrs Horner has now been concluded, drawing to a close what must have been a very difficult time for her and her family.”

The seven-figure sum awarded by the court will cover compensation for Mrs Horner’s injuries and all essential adaptations to her home and the costs of her future care. Mr Horner said he remains “very angry” and “still cannot understand how this could have happened”. He stated:

“Lynn would have gone back to normal living if she had been taken to the right place and provided with the correct treatment quickly. Instead, she has been left needing daily care and has lost her freedom.

[She] will never be independent again, she can’t drive anymore, and she needs a wheelchair and help with basic day-to-day things like meal times. We used to lead an active life regularly going to Cyprus on holiday and spending time with our grandkids but that has all changed now.”


Stroke Treatment Guidelines

Guidelines set down by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in July 2008 state that once an initial working diagnosis of stroke is made, aspirin ought to be given to the patient immediately, and he or she should be taken directly to a specialist acute stroke unit. There, brain imaging is undertaken to confirm the diagnosis and a decision will then be made whether that patient ought to receive thrombolysis treatment. Thrombolysis is not appropriate once 4.5 hours have passed since the onset of symptoms.

On the face of it, Mrs Horner’s symptoms were identified immediately and within 13 minutes an ambulance had arrived, which could have taken her to a specialist unit and enabled her to undergo brain imaging and begin thrombolysis well within that timescale.

These specialist units do not appear at every NHS Hospital. However, given the significance of symptoms and the need for immediate treatment, it is essential that the paramedics attending on a patient such as Mrs Horner know where the closest specialist unit is and ensure that he or she is taken there without any delay. It is a very concerning situation that the paramedics in this case were not aware of the significance of her symptoms, the urgency with which she required treatment and/or the most appropriate hospital for her to be taken.

How to obtain compensation for delay in stroke diagnosis and treatment

A stroke victim requires urgent medical treatment as any delay could result in serious consequences such as brain damage. If the stroke diagnosis or treatment is delayed or the treatment falls below an acceptable standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the negligence of a doctor, specialist or other hospital staff. Our goal at IBB Solicitors is to obtain justice for victims of the medical negligence by others, by securing compensation that reflects their pain and suffering, as well as related financial losses including loss of earnings, treatment costs and specialist care costs.

If you want to enquire about making a hospital, dentist or GP negligence claim, please contact one of our stoke misdiagnosis and negligence solicitors on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295.

Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to malcolm.underhill@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.