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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Brain damaged Cumbrian man loses battle for compensation

A patient left brain damaged by a stroke when he was 35 has lost his battle for compensation from his GP after a top judge ruled the doctor was not to blame.

Workington man Joseph Michael Beech, now 45, was left with physical and cognitive disabilities after the stroke in November 2003.

Helped by Joanne Mounsey, acting as his litigation friend, he sued his GP, Dr Aidan Patrick Timney, claiming he failed to correctly record a blood pressure reading as being high and therefore didn’t order a treatment regime which could have prevented the stroke.

Mr Justice Turner cleared the doctor of responsibility.

Following a hearing at the High Court, sitting in Liverpool, the judge found Dr Timney, based at the Trinity House Surgery, in Whitehaven, did accurately record his patient’s blood pressure when he saw him in March 2003.

The judge also said the expert evidence he heard showed that Mr Beech would have suffered his stroke even if a course of treatment had been started in March 2003.

He added: “What happened to Joseph Beech on November 6, 2003 was a personal catastrophe for him and a tragedy for his family.

“In these circumstances, it is impossible not to feel the utmost sympathy for his plight and to empathise with the emotional impact it has had upon his relatives and close friends.

“Sadly, however, in this case, it is not possible to mitigate the consequences of this disaster with an award of damages. The evidence simply did not demonstrate that a causative act of negligence lay behind the terrible brain haemorrhage he suffered nearly 10 years ago.”

He said Mr Beech’s medical history was ‘unremarkable’ and he was an infrequent visitor to Dr Timney.

But he went to his surgery in March 2003 complaining of morning headaches which would often recur at teatime. Dr Timney noted his patient’s blood pressure as 110/80, which falls within the low side of normal.

He put the headaches down to posture and recommended exercises as well as prescribing analgesics.

However, when the treatment did not alleviate his headaches, and he began to suffer a host of symptoms, he returned to Dr Timney in October 2003 and was referred to a consultant.

His blood pressure was not taken on that occasion.

The judge said ‘disaster struck’ on November 6, 2003 and Mr Beech was admitted to the-then Workington Infirmary having suffered a stroke in the form of a brain haemorrhage.

Lawyers for Mr Beech argued that his blood pressure was probably ‘significantly elevated’ at the time of his first visit to Dr Timney and therefore the measurement recorded by the doctor must have been inaccurate.

Dismissing his claim for damages, the judge said he was satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities, Dr Timney took and recorded his patient’s blood pressure accurately. He said it was ‘inherently unlikely’ that an experienced GP could fail to respond to a high blood pressure reading.

Dr Timney was unavailable for comment.

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