Key issues

  • In this case the Court was required to determine whether the Plaintiff’s stroke symptoms progressed despite, not because of, the administration of thrombolysis treatment.
  • The case highlights the difficulty of demonstrating causation in medical negligence cases, particularly in the absence of medical evidence.

Background

The Plaintiff claimed damages for personal injury resulting from a severe stroke that left her permanently incapacitated, requiring full-time care.  She suffered the stroke (the second stroke) after her admission to Cairns Base Hospital for an earlier stroke.

The Plaintiff alleged the stroke was caused by the Defendants administering thrombolysis, a procedure utilized to treat the Plaintiff for a prior stroke she had suffered on the day in question, in circumstances where it was contraindicated.

It was alleged the second stroke was caused by the administration of thrombolysis which set in train a course of events, including a subsequent procedure involving the infusion of prothrombinex, a drug administered to reverse anti-coagulant therapy and prevent bleeding. It was contended by the Plaintiff that procedure was only necessary by the fact that there had been an improperly administered thrombolysis procedure. 

The Plaintiff also alleged the Defendants failed to warn of the risks associated with thrombolysis. Had such warning been given, she would not have had the procedure, thus avoiding the alleged causation of the second stroke.

Findings

Her Honour Henry J dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim, finding that:

  • The medical evidence established that the progression of the Plaintiff’s serious deficits resulted from her stroke symptoms progressing despite, not because of, the administration of thrombolysis. 
  • The prothrombinex was not to blame as the second stroke had occurred prior to its administration.
  • As to the alleged failure to warn, the risks and benefits of the thrombolysis procedure were explained to the Plaintiff and consent was given.

To read the decision in Sochorova v Durairaj & Anor [2019] QSC 251, click here.