Hospital faces �300k High Court negligence claim

A 21-YEAR-old man is suing a Suffolk hospital for more than �300,000 amid claims delays in diagnosing a tumour left him with brain damage.

Luke Martin was just 12 years old when he was referred for tests by doctors at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. His GP had become concerned about the amount of water Mr Martin was drinking.

The hospital carried out a “water deprivation test” in the middle of 2001 which Mr Martin’s legal team claims should have triggered alarm bells that something might be seriously wrong.

However, it was not until June the next year that staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, diagnosed Mr Martin with a brain tumour and treatment got under way.

In a writ filed with the High Court in London, Mr Martin, now 21, is claiming damages of more than �300,000 for alleged negligence by the West Suffolk Hospital. In the writ, his barrister James Badenoch QC alleges West Suffolk Hospital doctors had not realised the significance of results of the test carried out on July 30 and 31 in 2001. Nor, he claimed, had they considered whether Mr Martin’s symptoms might have been related to a brain tumour.

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Mr Badenoch also claimed the hospital’s continuation with the test – in this case a water deprivation test – was both “unnecessary” and “dangerous” and “involved sleep deprivation and an excessively prolonged fast (of water), caused the claimant unnecessary suffering, and could have resulted in serious injury or his death”.

He goes on to claim hospital staff put the 12-year-old Mr Martin’s symptoms down to a “psychological and not an organic basis”.

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“With competent care the defendant (the hospital), its servants or agents, would and should have diagnosed that it was likely that the claimant’s symptoms had an organic basis, and that the abnormal and worrying water deprivation tests were likely to have been caused by a brain tumour affecting the hypothalamus/pituitary gland or by a renal problem,” said Mr Badenoch.

“With competent care, it is likely that urgent treatment would have been carried out in the form of biopsy. Neuro-imaging would have been carried out urgently which would have shown that a brain tumour had developed.”

Mr Martin claims that the alleged failure to diagnose the tumour resulted “in all probabilities, in the tumour growing substantially between July 2001 and the end of June 2002.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our apologies to Mr Martin and his family, and to assure Mr and Mrs Martin that we are taking steps to resolve the claim made on their son’s behalf as quickly as possible.

“We are unable to comment further until the legal proceedings are complete.”

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