£4m payout for woman left brain-damaged

The husband of a brain-damaged woman who has been awarded more than £4 million after medical mistakes left her with a 10-minute memory said today the payout was a "huge relief" but that their lives had been "torn apart".

Cristina Malcolm was left permanently brain-damaged after what is now suspected to have been a brain haemorrhage was misdiagnosed by medics as a virus.

Her injury left her totally dependent on her husband, Sandy, who has been her full-time carer up until a year ago when they received some help.

It has also made it impossible in practice for them to have children, which had been Mrs Malcolm's dream.

Mr Malcolm, from County Durham, has been pursuing legal action for compensation and this week a £4.46 million settlement was agreed.

He said: "It is seven years since Cristina collapsed and the confirmation of the settlement is a huge relief. However, Cristina could have received this care much earlier if the defendant's lawyers had admitted liability earlier and had come to a settlement.

"I now know that whatever happens to me in the future she will be cared for.

"We have had our entire lives torn apart by this.

"For the first six years she was totally reliant on me for everything. Everything that she did in life I would have to take care of.

"I started by thinking that if I did things with her that were spectacular then she would remember. Once we spent 12 hours in Paris visiting all the sights. But when we were driving out of the centre, less than 15 minutes after we had left, she said, 'Wouldn't it be a nice idea if we visited Paris?'."

His wife collapsed at home in July 2002 with a severe headache, which she described as the "worst of her life", but she was misdiagnosed.

Two weeks later she suffered a more serious haemorrhage and was rushed to Newcastle General Hospital where she underwent life-saving surgery to remove half a litre of blood from her brain.

She was left permanently brain-damaged and unable to remember anything for more than 10 minutes.

As an example of how hard their lives had become, Mr Malcolm said he had had to break the news to her of her father's death not once, but 10 or 15 times.

He said: "It was the saddest thing I have had to do in my whole life.

"Naturally she was completely devastated but an hour later she had no idea. I had to tell her 10 or 15 times over the next three or four days and you knew every time you told her how much it would break her heart."

Before the haemorrhage Mrs Malcolm used to work as a paediatric anaesthetic nurse.

Her husband explained that having children is now "impossible because she is unable to take care of them".

He described her as "a 10-year-old child with Alzheimer's" and said that on two different occasions he had come home from work to find his wife with unexplained injuries.

"Sadly, once when I came home she had a black eye and scratches on her face. Another time she had grazed the skin off the front of her nose. She didn't have any idea what had happened. I don't know if she was attacked or fell over."

But the 47-year-old, who is head of purchasing at a mail order company, said he tried to make "every day special" for his wife.

He instructed John Davis, partner and serious injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell, to pursue a compensation claim for gross clinical negligence.

The action was taken against Dr James Harrison of Chevely Park Medical Centre in Durham, Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust.

A spokeswoman for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "We sincerely regret the failures in care which led to Mrs Malcolm's injury.

"Letters of apology are being sent to Mr Malcolm by the chief executives of each trust.

"It is recognised that neither words nor money can compensate for what has happened but it is hoped that there is some comfort in knowing that Mrs Malcolm will have financial security for the rest of her life and will be well cared for."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower