Meningitis death: Doctor negligent

December 21, 2007
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A Scottish brother and sister have been awarded £140,000 in compensation following their mother’s death due to medical negligence.

Consultant Dr Fiona Vernon failed to spot symptoms of meningitis in Catherine Learmont when she visited a drop-in surgery in 1999.

The 37-year-old – told by the doctor that she merely had a viral infection – subsequently died of the disease.

Lauren and Scott Learmont then launched a medical negligence compensation case – and have claimed victory at Edinburgh’s Court of Session.

Delivering the verdict, judge Lord Uist said: “Dr Vernon ought to have suspected meningitis…and referred Ms Learmont to the nearby Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, in which event Mrs Learmont would have survived.

“As Dr Vernon did not refer Ms Learmont, she was professionally negligent.”

The judge also had harsh words for the “certain attitude” expressed by Dr Vernon during her examination of the woman, which did not sufficiently reflect the potential urgency of the case.

He had heard that she had told Ms Learmont that she was “happy to have a wee look at you” prior to the consultation, but that she should “be prepared to wait”.

The medical appointment itself was described as “short, cursory and superficial” by Lord Uist.

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