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22 October 2022 | Case Study | Article by Lesley Herbertson

Pregnant young woman dies from undiagnosed brain tumour

After multiple incorrect diagnoses of an ear infection, Molly sadly passed away shortly after her baby was delivered by emergency C-Section. Molly was 24 years old when she discovered she was pregnant and began being very sick throughout the day. She also began to feel dizzy, experienced headaches and was losing weight.

After visiting her GP, Molly was told she had labyrinthitis, an infection of the inner ear which causes dizziness, nausea and affects balance.

Molly continued to experience problems and saw a number of GPs multiple times with ongoing problems throughout the pregnancy.

She even mentioned her symptoms to a midwife who intimated that she was being a ‘drama queen.’

Molly continued to deteriorate; experiencing fatigue, poor co-ordination and slurred speech. She was eventually admitted to hospital but, after four hours, she was sent home.

A few weeks later, Molly saw her GP again and he referred her to the Ear Nose and Throat clinic at the local hospital for a non-urgent appointment.

Molly continued to deteriorate and became dehydrated after vomiting so much.

During her third trimester, she was only able to lie on one side due to the debilitating sickness and, as she couldn’t move, she also developed pressure sores.

Eventually, after being sent home from hospital again with a diagnosis of labyrinthitis, an out-of-hours doctor was called and he made a decision to have Molly admitted to hospital as an emergency.

Once in hospital, Molly continued to worsen; she was crying due to her severe headaches and had become sensitive to light.

Molly then became very confused and fell unconscious. A brain scan revealed she had a large tumour and fluid on the brain.

She was then transferred to another hospital for surgery to try and remove the tumour but this came too late and the family were told that Molly was beyond help.

Molly’s baby was delivered by emergency caesarean section and Molly was sadly confirmed dead after the delivery. It had been Molly’s long-held wish that, should anything ever happen to her, her organs should be harvested and donated and this was done.

Hugh James was instructed to pursue a claim against the Defendant Hospital Trust who admitted, on its own behalf and on behalf of all other potential Defendants, that the tumour should have been diagnosed and treated earlier and if that had happened, Molly would have survived.

Lesley Herbertson acted on behalf of Molly’s son and her estate and was successful in achieving an award which would provide financial support for her son until his adult years. She said:

It is hard to put into words the tragedy of Molly’s story. A young girl, about to become a mother for the first time, who was denied a long and healthy life due to a failure by treating doctors to recognise that her extreme symptoms were suggestive of something much more worrying than morning sickness or labrynthitis.

Fortunately, the Defendants did take a very reasonable approach to the case and made it clear early on that they accepted liability and that compensation would be paid. Whilst this made the litigation process less stressful for a grieving family, that helpful approach will never take away the feeling of loss which they should not have had to face.

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

Author bio

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.

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