Former CNN correspondent Andrew Brown wins GBP4.5 million in damages
Former Hong Kong-based CNN correspondent, Andrew Brown has won almost GBP4.5 million in damages after having been paralysed at a UK hospital. Brown – who lived in the territory for 17 years and worked for a variety of local and international TV stations – was abandoned by his surgeon following an operation in January 2006 at The Bath Clinic in the west of England.
Two days after removing a tumour in Brown’s spinal cord, consultant neurosurgeon David Sandeman, went on a business trip without arranging any cover for his patient.
Before Sandeman left on the afternoon of January 26, Brown complained of severe pain in his neck. Twenty minutes later, when Sandeman was on the platform of Bath railway station, a junior doctor telephoned to tell Sandeman that Brown could no longer feel his hands and feet. Yet Sandeman went ahead with his journey and could not be contacted by mobile or otherwise for the next 3-and-a-half hours.
In the meantime a blood clot that had formed between Brown’s spinal cord and his vertebrae expanded dramatically, crushing critical nerve pathways and at 3.40 pm he was quadriplegic. The irreparable damage to Brown’s cord left him fighting for his life.
He spent the next 8 weeks in intensive care unable to breathe on his own and almost totally paralysed below the neck.
A few months after the injury Brown asked medical negligence specialists, Leigh Day & Co, to investigate a claim against Sandeman and his insurers, the Medical Protection Society. Leigh Day built up a formidable legal case culminating in the Defendants offering to settle the case for GBP4.5 million and legal costs.
Russell Levy, head of clinical negligence at Leigh Day, said he was delighted with the result.
“We’ll never know what important business David Sandeman had to
attend to in London on the afternoon of 26 January 2006, but the terrible
tragedy is that if he had simply gone back to see his patient when the
junior doctor telephoned him before he had boarded a train, Andrew’s
devastating injuries would have been avoided and a brilliant career as a
television correspondent would not have been snuffed out.”
Andrew Brown, who was born on January 19 1964 and brought up in the Guildford area south of London, spent most of his professional life in Hong Kong where he has worked as a correspondent for CNN, the business TV network CNBC, several local TV stations and CBS Radio. He began his TV career at ATV in February 1989 and then moved to TVB where he worked for almost 5 years including a stint as TVB’s correspondent in Washington. He was at Wharf’s cable news channel between 1993 and 1995.
In witness statements filed with the UK High Court, senior TV news executives paid tribute to Brown’s distinctive style of reporting and the quirky stories which were his signature.
Brown’s problems began when an MRI scan at Hong Kong’s Canossa hospital showed a tumour in his cervical spinal cord in December 2005. He quit his job at CNN to research different surgery options to treat the tumour, which was described by doctors at the Canossa as “deep and inoperable”. He was eventually referred to David Sandeman, a specialist in cord tumours, and a surgeon with Britain’s National Health Service based at Frenchay hospital in Bristol.
The tumour, which proved to be benign, was successfully removed on January 24 2006 but early hopes of a complete recovery were dashed when Brown was left without proper care post operatively so that the blood clot could not be detected and removed speedily.
After being discharged from intensive care, Brown was treated at an NHS spinal cord injuries unit in Salisbury. Then, to take advantage of inexpensive care in Thailand, he transferred to Bumrungrad International, one of the top hospitals in SE Asia.
Today Brown is mostly confined to a wheelchair though he can walk short distances with crutches. He suffers from chronic neuropathic pain which makes it impossible for him to lead a normal life.
“The settlement is a great relief”, said Brown. “I would like to thank the many friends in Hong Kong who gave me moral and financial support over the last several years and my family who were also solidly behind me. Despite the initial ordeal, I was given excellent care by the doctors and nurses who tried to put me back together again in England and Thailand”
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