Mother pursues compensation after medical delays leave her son disabled

The mother of a 12 year old boy who was left disabled after a head injury has made a compensation claim against West Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust after doctors delayed admitting him to hospital.

Rees Ross, who was seven at the time of his accident, had been playing football at school when he banged heads with another pupil. Seemingly fine at the time, when he got home he began to complain of headache, of pain above his ear and of feeling sleepy. His mother, Lisa Ross, called the medical helpline NHS Direct for advice and was told to give her son painkillers, and monitor his condition. When Rees woke up crying and still complaining of pain, Lisa rang the out-of-hours service run by West Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust (which has since been amalgamated into NHS Lincolnshire). The advice remained the same: Lisa should administer more painkillers, watch her son’s condition and ring back if he deteriorated. Even when Lisa rang back to inform them that Rees had started vomiting, she was simply told to let him rest. It was only after Rees began fitting in the middle of the night that he was taken to Lincoln County Hospital and actually seen by a doctor, but by this time it was too late.

Emergency surgery revealed that Rees was suffering from concussion, caused by an extradural haematoma, where bleeding occurs between the brain’s membrane and the inner surface of the skull. It was this build up of blood on Rees’ brain which caused him to become disabled. Speaking of the condition, the family’s solicitor, specialist in Medical Law Tim Annett said, “The outcome is dependent on the speed with which the condition is recognised and treated. If Rees had been referred to hospital sooner then the outcome could have been very different”. After his surgery, Rees was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he remained for six weeks. Rees now has speech and language difficulties, and can only walk for short distances; for longer distances, he is confined to a wheelchair.

West Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust have agreed to pay the compensation after admitting that the delays in giving Rees Ross the appropriate care had been unacceptable and had Mrs Ross been told to bring her son in earlier on, his tragic current condition could have been avoided. The exact amount the Ross family will receive is still being calculated and will be dependent on the long term costs of his care and potential loss of wages.

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