What are you looking for?

Man severely brain injured after abscess mistaken for brain tumour

Delay in surgery left Kevin with a severe brain injury after his abscess caused neurological damage. Kevin was taken to hospital by ambulance as a result of experiencing confusion, reduced mobility and disorientation.

A CT brain scan was performed the following day which showed a 3-4cm ring in the right lobe which was suspicious for an abscess and so a neurological referral was made.

The next day, Kevin underwent an MR scan and it was decided the mass was probably a primary brain tumour and so he was referred to cancer services in accordance with the hospital’s protocol.

Kevin’s case was discussed at a neuro-oncology multi-disciplinary team meeting where the medics had access to both the CT and MR scans. However, it appears the attendees at the meeting proceeded on the basis of an assumed diagnosis of a tumour without proper consideration of the scans.

As the meeting was rushed and the scans were not examined properly, it was suggested that a full body CT scan be performed in light of there being a probable brain tumour. The scan was performed and showed no evidence of any other primary or secondary tumour.

Kevin remained stable for a number of days as the next steps were discussed. However, four days after initially attending hospital, Kevin suffered a rapid deterioration and his GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale) dropped from 15/15 to 9/15.

An urgent CT was then performed and compared with the original taken four days earlier. It was noted the mass in the brain had worsened since the previous scan.

Kevin was transferred to a specialist hospital where a bed on the High Dependency Unit was available. There was a delay in surgery of about 24 hours as Kevin’s blood pressure and other levels were brought under control.

A craniotomy was performed and an intracerebral abscess was found to have broken through the cortex and that pus was escaping. Kevin survived the surgery but with a significant neurological brain injury.

As a result of the delay in surgery, Kevin suffered an avoidable brain injury meaning that he was left with impaired mobility, poor memory and concentration, changes in speech and suffering from epilepsy. It was argued that Kevin would have made a full neurological recovery if his surgery had not been delayed.

The case was initially valued at well in excess of £1 million, given the likely ongoing care needed by Kevin as a result of his brain injury. However, sadly, Kevin died not long after the period of alleged negligent treatment. Kevin had no dependants and settlement on behalf of his estate was agreed in the sum of £35,000.00.

Lesley Herbertson, Partner in the clinical negligence team at Hugh James, acted for Kevin and said:

Kevin suffered a brain injury which could clearly have been avoided if only the specialists reviewing the scans available to them at the multi-disciplinary meeting had taken time to review them properly and objectively, rather than relying on an assumed but not yet verified diagnosis. It was very sad that Kevin passed away so soon after suffering his brain injury as a result of a related illness and before we had any time to put in place for him the level of additional non-family support and therapy that he needed.

The names and identifying details of the client have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals involved.

Author bio

Lesley Herbertson


Lesley Herbertson is a Partner at Hugh James and a leading medical negligence solicitor with over 30 years’ experience in dealing with catastrophic and serious injury medical negligence cases.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


Next steps

We’re here to get things moving. Drop a message to one of our experts and we’ll get straight back to you.

Call us: 033 3016 2222

Message us