Family Settle Wrongful Death Claim for Negligent Heart Surgery

A family from York have settled their wrongful death claim for negligent heart surgery that resulted in the loss of their eleven-year-old son.

Bradley Brough from Upper Poppleton in York was born with a complex congenital heart condition, and had previously undergone successful heart surgery to attend to a ventricular septal defect – where the septum was not fully formed in his heart.

By mid-2010, Bradley´s condition was identified as deteriorating, and he attended the Leeds General Infirmary on 11th October for a Total Cavo-Pulmonary Connection (TCPC) and the closure of his pulmonary artery.

Following the ten-hour operation, Bradley´s condition began to deteriorate. He underwent an emergency exploration procedure in the hospital´s theatre due to excessive bleeding, but the cause of the problem was not identified.

On the following day, Bradley was taken back to theatre for the TCPC connection to be disconnected, but his condition continued to deteriorate. An emergency CT scan on Bradley´s brain revealed that he was suffering from a significant cerebral haemorrhage and a brain ischemia.

Further tests on Bradley’s brain activity showed that a large section of his brain had become unresponsive, and Bradley was put on life support. Bradley´s condition continued to get worse and, on 13th October, the life support was switched off and Bradley died.

Having been told that the second operation had been a success – only to see their son die the following day – Bradley´s parents instructed solicitors to investigate what had actually happened to their son. The solicitor´s medical experts found:

  • That the initial heart surgery was performed negligently, particularly that the pulmonary artery had not been closed off as planned,
  • There was a delay in identifying the deterioration of Bradley´s health,
  • Further investigations should have been conducted into Bradley´s deteriorating condition before the emergency exploratory procedure took place,
  • Bradley should have been taken back into surgery for the reversal of the TCPC connection the same day, rather than the morning after.

With this information, Bradley´s parents made a wrongful death claim for negligent heart surgery against the surgeon who performed the operations – Nihal Weerasena – and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Liability was admitted and an undisclosed settlement of the wrongful death claim for negligent heart surgery was agreed. After the claim had been settled, Bradley´s mother – Sharon – said: “We do not think the standard of care Bradley received by medical staff at Leeds General Infirmary was acceptable and more should have been done so he could be with us today”.

“We are pleased that the Trust admitted responsibility for the mistakes made during Bradley’s care at the hospital. We have now received a settlement which marks the end of the legal battle but we just hope that lessons can be learned to make sure that each and every patient gets the care and support they need.”