Seven figure settlement for delay in diagnosis of ADEM

Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a rare inflammatory disorder that affects the brain and spinal cord. It can often follow a minor infection such as a cold, and which activates immune cells to attack the healthy myelin covering the nerves.

Symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, headache, irritability and sleepiness, unsteadiness or inability to walk, problems with vision, weakness or tingling in certain areas of the body. In severe cases seizures can result.

This case study details the delay in diagnosis of ADEM with regards to our client.

About the client

Our client’s claim relates to the delay in commencing intravenous Methylprednisolone Pulse (IVMP) therapy which resulted to her suffering significant spinal injuries. She continues to suffer from restricted mobility, fatigue, altered sensation in the upper limbs, bladder and bowel dysfunction and short-term memory issues.

Challenges in the case

The defendants (two hospital trusts) had admitted that they had breached their duty of care in failing to ensure that the interpretations of our client’s MRI scan of the brain by a specialist neuroradiologist, including the possibility of ADEM, were properly noted and handed over to the treating team. They admitted that the treating clinicians had failed to reasonably consider ADEM and also failed to promptly organise a spinal MRI scan, following which IVMP would have been started. Due to their failures, there was a delay in commencing appropriate treatment by four weeks.

Despite the admissions as to breach of duty, the defendants argued that even if IVMP treatment had been given earlier, our client’s functional outcome would not have been any better. This is because of how severe her condition was. They argued that our client would only have recovered to her present condition and prognosis faster had the treatment been given earlier, so the claim’s value was relatively minimal. However, our expert evidence suggested that whilst our client would still have had some ongoing symptoms arising from her ADEM, she would have made a very substantially better recovery had treatment commenced four weeks earlier.

Expert Moore Barlow services

We carried out extensive investigations involving specialist niche expert input given the complexity, severity and variety of our client’s injuries. The case involved several experts specialising in areas of neurology, neuroradiology, Neuropsychology, rehabilitation medicine, colorectal surgery, urology, care/OT/case management, physiotherapy, and accommodation. ADEM is largely a disorder of children and rarely occurs in adults so there no data from controlled research studies to help determine what our client’s outcome would have been had she received IVMP in a timely manner.  We however ensured that our client was at an advantage in the claim by instructing a neurologist who was a specialist in the area of demyelinating diseases such as ADEM, to counter the defendants’ general (non-specialist) neurology expert.

The outcome of the case

The case settled prior to trial being held, and we secured a seven-figure settlement for the client. This will help fund appropriate therapies, aids and equipment, medical treatment, suitable accommodation, as well as provide for her care needs.

What our client said

You guys have all been super awesome. I’m not sure a simple thank you is enough! For now though, thanks to all of you at Moore Barlow who’ve been so amazing to deal with. Special thanks to Rhea and Laura! Both amazing people. And of course, to Abi and Victoria. You’ve both been super lovely people to know and to have in my life. It’s been a real honour to have you fighting my corner!

Moore Barlow client

How Moore Barlow can help

Medical negligence claims can arise in a variety of circumstances dependent upon the nature of an injury but commonly arise where there has been a delay in diagnosis and treatment or the wrong management has taken place.

If you think you or a loved one may have a brain injury as a result of medical negligence, you or your family should contact a solicitor as soon as possible. Please contact the Medical negligence team.