NHS Acknowledges Liability in Locked-In Syndrome Compensation Claim

An NHS Trust has acknowledged that the standard of care provided to a girl making a locked-in syndrome compensation claim fell below an acceptable standard.

In September 2011, Anna White (then fifteen years of age) was admitted to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan for an appendectomy. The operation appeared to have gone well until Anna started convulsing during her recovery.

Anna continued convulsing to the alarm of her mother – Donna – who was by her daughter´s bedside. Donna attracted a nurse´s attention, but it was too late to prevent Anna suffering a cardiac arrest. While she was being resuscitated, Anna suffered a lack of oxygen, which resulted in brain damage and catastrophic disabilities.

Now nineteen years of age, Anna is unable to get out of bed or move from her wheelchair without specialist equipment. She cannot wash or feed herself unaided, and can only communicate by looking at letters on a board to spell out words. Her intellectual capacity is unimpaired but doctors say she faces being “locked in” her body for the rest of her life.

An investigation into what caused Anna to suffer a cardiac arrest after a routine operation found that the tube used to deliver anaesthetic to Anna during the appendectomy was not flushed out properly after it had been used. A small dose of the drug was left inside it and when fluids were administered to Anna following the surgery through the same tube, the remaining anaesthetic was inadvertently delivered into her body.

On her daughter´s behalf, Donna made a locked-in syndrome compensation claim so that Anna will be provided with the specialist care she will need for the rest of her life. Now the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has admitted liability for the error that caused Anna to suffer such catastrophic disabilities and negotiations have started to settle the locked-in syndrome compensation claim.

A spokesperson for the NHS Trust said: “The Trust has admitted that the care it provided to Anna White fell below an acceptable standard, and has apologised unreservedly to Ms White for this. The Trust has implemented a number of changes to eliminate the possibility of this type of failing occurring in the future. Given that legal proceedings in relation to this care are ongoing, the Trust is unable to offer further comment at this stage”.