London Hospital Trust Admits Breach Of Duty After Woman Sent Home From A&E Without Referral To Stroke Clinic
A charity founder left with cognitive impairments following a stroke is backing a major awareness campaign as she speaks for the first time of her determination to regain more of her independence.
Priscilla Higham attended the accident and emergency department of St Mary’s Hospital on 31 May, 2014, having suffered 10 days of headaches and temporary paralysis down her right side.
She was discharged without investigations – including a lumbar puncture - to rule out a bleed on the brain or a referral to a stroke clinic. Priscilla subsequently saw her GP with complaints of ongoing headaches and weakness. She was referred to a neurologist.
It transpired that Priscilla had suffered a ‘mini stroke’ – also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
Priscilla was diagnosed with vasculitis, a condition which restricts blood flow. She suffered a stroke on the 12 June 2014.
Medical negligence lawyers investigate woman's stroke
Following her stroke, Priscilla instructed specialist medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs St Mary’s Hospital.
Priscilla is now supporting World Stroke Day on 29 October. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the signs of the condition and the importance of early medical treatment. Priscilla, aged 73, of Notting Hill, London, has spoken of how she wants to regain more of her independence.
London Hospital Trust admits breach of duty
During the legal case the Trust admitted a breach of duty in that Priscilla should not have been sent home without further investigations and referral to the stroke clinic.
Expert evidence obtained by Priscilla’s solicitors stated that earlier treatment would have been effective in treating the underlying cause of her stroke. However, the Trust maintained that Priscilla’s stroke on 12 June, 2014, was unavoidable.
Lawyers secure settlement for charity founder Priscilla Higham
Following discussions between Priscilla’s and the Trust’s legal teams, the Trust agreed to pay an undisclosed settlement to Priscilla which will now help fund the ongoing rehabilitation and therapies that she requires.
Expert Opinion“The last few years and trying to come to terms with the physical and cognitive impact of her stroke have been incredibly difficult for Priscilla.
“Beforehand she was fiercely independent and devoted her life to helping others. However, she has now been forced to give up the work she dedicated her life to.
“Priscilla’s story is a stark reminder to of the need to be vigilant for the signs of a stroke and take appropriate action at all times.
“We join Priscilla in supporting this incredibly important campaign which we hope will help others know what of the signs to look out for.” Jasicca Nava - Solicitor
Stroke: Priscilla Higham's story
Priscilla was born in Botswana before moving to England aged 15. Now, the mother-of-one and grandmother-of-two, has relocated back to the UK having spent time in the USA.
She founded the charity African Solutions to African Problems in 2003 to encourage women in rural communities to improve their own lives and meet the educational and social needs of the increasing number of orphaned children suffering from the impact of HIV/AIDS.
Over time the charity received funding from private donors and charitable organisations.
Priscilla said: “The charity was my life. I was so passionate about enabling local women to access the resources they needed to care for increasing numbers of vulnerable children.
“I had no intention of slowing down. I assumed I would have to retire one day but it was something I had never considered or planned for until I suffered my stroke.
“The hardest part of the stroke was its impact to my memory and ability to be able to tackle the most basic of tasks, and as a result I was sadly unable to continue in my role as CEO of the charity. From small beginnings in my car with a suitcase, travelling through villages to find out what help these women needed, the charity grew to support 20,000 women and children over the course of 15 years. Being forced to walk away broke my heart.
Priscilla supports World Stroke Day
“Having to accept how life is different has been difficult but my family and friends have been a great support. I’m determined not to be defined by what’s happened and I’m focused on regaining more of my independence.
“I just hope that by speaking out I can help others be aware of how vital it is they receive swift medical treatment.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people and their families following a stroke at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
World Stroke Day is on 29 October. For more information visit www.differentstrokes.co.uk