court file

$1.6m for woman after hospital worsened her epilepsy

A COURT has found a Northern Rivers woman suffered $1.6 million worth of damages after a hospital worsened her epilepsy.

Emily Pierce, now 27, underwent testing for epilepsy at a Brisbane hospital in 2010 to see whether she was a candidate for neurosurgery and this required a seizure to be induced.

Queensland's Metro North Hospital and Health Service, which represented the hospital, admitted to breaching its duty of care to treat Ms Pierce's seizure in a timely manner.

It also admitted it failed to properly instruct staff who were monitoring Ms Pierce about the appropriate care and taking proper steps to stop her seizure within an appropriate time.

The case proceeded to court because Ms Pierce claimed this experience worsened her condition, but the hospital disputed this.

Ms Pierce had her first seizure when she was six years old and was admitted to Lismore Base Hospital.

She has also been admitted to Ballina hospital at various times, including on 10 occasions in 2009, when she was about 20 years old.

She was also taken to Byron Bay hospital in 2010, months after the episode at Brisbane.

Ms Pierce said her seizures became more frequent and came on more suddenly without warning after the incident at Brisbane hospital.

She claimed that while she was having a seizure, medical staff did not intervene with appropriate medical treatment as promptly as they should have, causing her to descend into a more serious condition.

In evidence before the court, Ms Pierce said she came in and out of seizing.

"I thought initially I would be okay because I was at a hospital but when I kept seizing I got very worried and scared," she said.

In a NSW Supreme Court judgment delivered last week, Justice Stephen Campbell found there had been a large and consistent increase in the frequency of Ms Pierce's seizures and that the incident at the hospital in Brisbane in 2010 caused a significant burden of her epilepsy.

He assessed her damages as being $1.6 million, taking into account damages, past economic loss, future economic loss and past and future care.

A directions hearing regarding this case will take place on Friday.


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