Mr Bennett - A Life Torn Apart By The Wrong Medical Advice

We all like to think we can trust our doctors to know what they are talking about. Even more so when they are giving you specialist advice about the risks of radiosurgery to your brain. Not all of us though think to make a note of what the doctor has just told us.

Mr Bennett did just that when he met with a Consultant Neuroradiologist at a Harley Street clinic to talk about the risks and benefits of having ‘gamma knife radiosurgery’ to a cluster of blood vessels in his brain, an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which posed a risk of bleeding. Mr Bennett was advised by this Consultant, over the course of a number of meetings, that the surgery had a “99%” prospect of success of getting rid of the AVM, that the procedure carried a very low risk of brain damage, and that the frontal lobe where the AVM was located was “safe and resistant to radiation”. Based on this reassuring sounding advice, Mr Bennett went ahead with the surgery.

Unfortunately, the Consultant’s advice was wrong. The risks of brain damage to the frontal lobe by this surgery were not “very low”, and in Mr Bennett’s case, brain damage occurred.

Within a couple of months, Mr Bennett had started to become withdrawn and lethargic, and was confused and unable to function. He was admitted to hospital where his condition continued to deteriorate and he began to display psychotic behaviour. Eventually he was diagnosed with having suffered tissue necrosis to the frontal lobe of his brain, caused by the gamma knife surgery.

Mr Bennett’s life and that of his wife and two young children was turned upside down. Mr Bennett underwent extensive rehabilitation in hospital and eventually returned home months later. His brain damage caused changes to his personality, with emotional and behavioural disturbances causing him to be aggressive and irritable, with increased impulsivity and at times socially inappropriate behaviour. He suffers from extreme fatigue and severe short term memory problems. He has difficulties with balance and fine motor function difficulties in his hands. He is no longer able to work and requires constant supervision and care. His marriage and personal relationships have been put under huge strain.

Mr Bennett’s wife came to us for advice. She had spoken to other solicitors who had refused to take their case on. The key strength in the case we thought was the handwritten notes made by Mr Bennett at the time of his pre-surgery meetings with his Consultant. When an expert told us what the correct advice should have been, that the surgery was actually a lot riskier than made out to Mr Bennett, the notes were crucial evidence to prove the case. If it wasn’t for that negligent advice, Mr Bennett would never have gone through with such a risky procedure.

It later transpired that the Consultant had made no notes of his own of the appointments, or if he had, they were never provided to us. The Defendant, the NHS Trust who employed the doctor, admitted full liability shortly after the claim was brought.

After a lengthy and detailed process of working out what he would need, Mr Bennett was awarded compensation worth millions of pounds to provide him with care, therapies, accommodation, equipment and money to replace his lost ability to work. Here’s what Mrs Bennett has to say:

“When other solicitors turned us down over the phone because our case was 'too complex' Knights’ Helen Niebuhr visited us and took us on.

We always felt that the team were totally genuine in wanting to help us, were always sympathetic and sensitive to our problems  and 'held our hands' all the way through the long litigation process.

There were obstacles along the way but our solicitor (Helen Niebuhr) never gave up, even when one barrister thought it was pointless to continue she fought all the way and found another barrister who took up the case.

Help and friendly advice was always on hand from both Laura Cook and Helen and complexities explained so that we were never felt to be a 'nuisance'. I felt it was always a very personal service.

I would recommend Darbys 100% and cannot praise all those who worked on our case enough from secretaries to senior solicitors, the service was first rate. Our settlement cannot change my husband's condition but it gives our family financial security and will help us to manage his condition to improve both his quality of life and that of our family.

I look forward to Knights continuing support and cannot thank them enough for persevering with our case to achieve such a successful outcome particularly when the outlook was at times so bleak”.

To respect the privacy of our clients, all names have been changed.

If your life has been affected by brain injury, and want to know what to do next, call us on 0345 241 0154 for some free advice.

Or, if you prefer, fill in our enquiry form and we’ll contact you.

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