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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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£1m payout to Cumbrian man whose heart stopped while having tooth out

A young man has been awarded £1 million damages after being left with a suspected brain injury while having a tooth out.

The patient, now 22, was given a general anaesthetic at the Ann Burrow Thomas Health Centre in Workington as a child but he suffered a severe adverse reaction, and his heart stopped beating, according to legal papers at Carlisle County Court.

North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – the organisation which runs the area’s two main hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven – admitted that there was a delay in resuscitating the youngster.

But lawyers have not been able to agree on the medical damage that may have resulted from the incident.

Despite this, the trust has now agreed an out-of-court damages settlement.

Legal documents for the young man – only six at the time of the incident in 1997 – suffered a brain injury because he was starved of oxygen as a result of his heart and breathing having stopped.

“The anaesthetic was administered negligently,” says the damages claim.

The papers include a psychological assessment of the young man written by Dr Eric Ghadiali in 2009.

He concludes that the patient had suffered damage to his brain which impaired his intellectual development – a problem which became increasingly apparent as he grew older.

The doctor says the patient suffers mild learning difficulties and “severe behavioural problems”, and performed poorly in memory tests.

He was excluded from school and got into trouble, his behaviour causing problems for the police, his teachers, and his parents. He also acquired a criminal record including driving offences, arson, and burglaries.

“He has never worked,” continued the report. “He has been on incapacity benefit since the age of 16.”

The report goes on to say that the young man never abused drink or drugs and spent most of his time watching TV or playing computer games.

“He doesn’t understand why he receives incapacity benefit; why he was excluded from school; or why he was referred to Adolescent Mental Health Services. He is likely to suffer from learning difficulties for the rest of his life.”

The report adds that if the patient’s behaviour problems do not improve, he is unlikely to find a job.

A spokeswoman for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The trust is happy that this complicated case has reached a conclusion.”

She added that the trust wished the man, who still lives in the Workington area, “all the best for the future.”

The patient was represented in court by Cockermouth-based Nickson Dees Legal Consultants, medical negligence specialists.

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