Panagoulias v The East Metropolitan Health Service [2017] WADC 118

This claim involved a delay in diagnosis and treatment of bacterial meningitis resulting in catastrophic injuries for the plaintiff.

The plaintiff was a 40 year old married father of one at the time of sustaining his injuries. Prior to his injuries, he worked as a self-employed accountant. He was sociable, hardworking and enjoyed spending time with  his family, fishing and tinkering with cars.

In 2005, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour near his pituitary stalk. He came under the care of a neurosurgeon, and in 2006 underwent surgery to remove the tumour.  The surgery successfully removed 90% of the tumour.

In September 2007, the plaintiff underwent surgery to remove the remaining 10% of the tumour. Unfortunately, during the course of this surgery, the plaintiff’s carotid artery was nicked and the procedure had to be abandoned.

Around 3 weeks after his surgery, the plaintiff developed a severe headache during the night. Given that he had recently undergone surgery, the plaintiff presented at the Emergency Department of the Royal Perth Hospital (“the Hospital”)

Upon arrival, the plaintiff was triaged and it was recorded that his symptoms were suspicious of bacterial meningitis. Despite the suspicion that the plaintiff was suffering from meningitis, he  was not given intravenous antibiotics until 5:30pm, almost 8 hours after he first presented to the Emergency Department.

Unfortunately, the intravenous antibiotics were commenced too late and the plaintiff suffered a severe brain injury causing significant neurological deficits. Due to the severity of his injuries, the plaintiff required 24 hour care and at the time of trial, was living in a residential care facility.

The plaintiff’s claim proceeded to trial in March 2017. Following a four-week trial, the District Court of Western Australia found that the Hospital breached its duty of care to the plaintiff in failing to diagnose and treat his bacterial meningitis in a timely manner. The Court found that there was no reasonable explanation for the delay.

The Court further found that had treatment with intravenous antibiotics have commenced earlier, the plaintiff’s brain injury would have been avoided.

The plaintiff was awarded damages in excess of $11,000,000.00 including damages for past and future loss of earnings, future medical expenses and compensation for past and future care.

Date Posted: February 23, 2024