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A brain haemorrhage is the leaking of blood over the brain tissue as a result of rupture of a blood vessel usually caused by physical exertion (particularly in the elderly) or by physical trauma to the head (which is often caused by a fall or by involvement in a contact sport). A brain haemorrhage is always a life threatening event requiring urgent medical attention and treatment. Tens of thousands of people have a brain haemorrhage in the UK every year and a significant proportion of these may be the victim of medical negligence caused mainly by failure to diagnose and treat properly or by subsequent negligent surgery.

Brain Haemorrhage Negligence

One type of brain surgery that is commonly used is a procedure known as the 'burr hole.. This method uses a device that drills a hole into the skull directly over the bleed. Prior to any drilling taking place, a CT scan is done to find out the precise location of the bleed. Once the hole is drilled, pressure is released from the skull and the blood can drain. This procedure does not work for large bleeds.

Another surgical procedure that is done for brain bleeds is performed in the case of a cerebral aneurysm. In this case, the brain is exposed by removing the skull in order to locate the location of the aneurysm. A clip is then placed on the aneurysm to pinch it off and stop the flow of blood. A procedure known as intravascular coiling may also be used and involves snaking a catheter up through the groin directly into the aneurysm. The coil is then installed in order to form a clot and stop the bleeding.

Before any surgery is done, a CT or MRI scan is required so the surgeon knows exactly what portion of the brain is affected. The scan images are also kept close by during the procedure for quick reference.

There are also cases where a craniotomy may be required to manually remove a large blood clot. In this situation, the hair on the scalp is shaved, an incision is made, and the scalp is pulled back. A hole is then made in the skull and a portion of the skull is removed. Once exposed, the aneurysm is removed from the brain and any other bleeding is pinched off.

A surgeon may need to use an endoscope in order to reach deeper portions of the brain. When this happens a camera is placed at the end of the scope so the surgeon can see the area, and even the smallest blood vessels can be dealt with. Monitors are also used to verify the pressure of the intracranial space.

Once all surgery is completed, the portion of the skull that was removed may or may not be secured by the use of stitches, small metal plates, or wire. It takes a great deal of time, usually several weeks for the skull to heal and properly reattach.

As with any type of surgery, brain surgery also comes with the risk of serious complications. These complications include: excessive bleeding, swelling of the brain tissue, damage to healthy brain areas, and even death. The overall outcome for the procedure depends a great deal on why the problem occurred and the general health of the patient.

Unfortunately, there are times when surgery is not conducted properly and there is an issue of medical negligence. In these cases, a brain haemorrhage solicitor may be able to help you, or your family, file a claim and seek damages.

Subdural - Extradural - Subarachnoid Haemorrhage

The affects of brain haemorrhage may range from a severe headache to fits or a coma for the most serious of conditions. Subarachnoid haemorrhage is the most common form of brain haemorrhage and is usually caused by a breached aneurism (a broken weakened blood vessel). The victim of a brain haemorrhage may suffer from either a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a subdural haemorrhage or an extradural haemorrhage. A subarachnoid haemorrhage describes the condition when a vessel ruptures and blood flows into the brain resulting in damage to the brain which exhibits instantaneous and discernable symptoms, warning the doctor in charge that emergency treatment may be necessary. Subdural haemorrhage is common in the elderly and may develop slowly following head trauma. Young people often suffer from extradural haemorrhage following a head injury whilst playing contact sports.


About 8,000 people in the UK have a brain haemorrhage every year. This condition is caused by a flow of blood over the brain from a ruptured blood vessel. It most often occurs in older people with high blood pressure who are often exerting physical effort at the time. There are three different types of brain haemorrhage that are frequently misdiagnosed. These are a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, a sub-dural haemorrhage and an extra-dural haemorrhage. The most obvious and usual sign of a brain haemorrhage is a sudden severe headache at the back of the head, which may last for about an hour. In severe cases the victim loses consciousness and may collapse into a coma. Most people who have a brain haemorrhage don't know what's happening to them. The condition is often mis-diagnosed at hospital accident and emergency departments which may give rise to a possible compensation claim for medical negligence.

Warning Signs

About 50 per cent of patients who have a brain haemorrhage display clear warning signals that doctors should be aware of. However even specialist neurologists can make the mistake of a mis-diagnosis of this condition. Further errors can also be made by brain surgeons when surgically repairing the damage. If you or a family member have been the victim of medical negligence through the misdiagnosis of a brain haemorrhage, or through negligent subsequent treatment, you will need to seek professional advice from a specialist solicitor about the possibility of making a claim for compensation.


A brain haemorrhage results when there is a weak artery or blood vessel in the brain, otherwise known as a brain aneurism that ruptures. A rupture of a weakened blood vessel is often caused by a sudden increase in blood pressure. If the rupture is left untreated blood will flow into the brain cavity exerting pressure on the brain. The common perception is that a brain aneurysm is an affliction of the elderly - the truth is that many younger people are also susceptible to brain haemorrhage. Younger people are at risk of having a brain aneurysm if they smoke, have high blood pressure or make certain other poor lifestyle choices. Between 3% to 6% of adults have a weak blood vessel in their brain which could produce an aneurysm. Further research suggests that 1 in 30 people have the potential to develop a brain aneurysm and about 1% will suffer a serious sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage at some time during their lives. Since a brain haemorrhage may strike without warning, the victim of a brain haemorrhage may not survive the incident. Failure to diagnose or to mis-diagnose a brain haemorrhage can have life threatening consequences which may justify legal action by a clinical negligence solicitor.


A brain haemorrhage can occur without warning although a common symptom is a very strong headache which does not dissipate over time, usually felt towards the back of the head. Most victims report that the headache is the worst they've ever experienced. Many victims die immediately however in some cases surgery may be carried out to save the patient. This involves attaching clips to the affected blood vessels. Unfortunately, accident and emergency doctors do not always make the right diagnosis, attributing the headache to migraine and prescribe nothing more than a basic analgesic. A brain haemorrhage is considered to be a life-threatening medical event that necessitates immediate and precise diagnosis in order that the right medical treatment can be provided. Over 25% of those who are suddenly afflicted with a brain haemorrhage will die within 24 hours. Failure by a healthcare professional to properly deal with a brain haemorrhage which results in personal injury or death will entitle a clinical negligence solicitor to take legal action to claim compensation.

Endovascular Treatment

Victims of brain aneurysms can be treated with endovascular treatment (considered a less-invasive procedure) if the neurovascular specialist rules out surgical clipping as being too risky. Endovascular treatment is also called coil embolisation or coiling. Statistics show that patients who undergo endovascular treatment have better survival rates compared to those who undergo surgical clipping. Caregivers or next-of-kin of patients are advised to consult the neurovascular specialist as to which form of treatment is more appropriate for the victim.

Brain Haemorrhage - Medical Negligence Solicitors

The responsibility for medical negligence ultimately lies with the medical staff employed by a healthcare provider for failure to diagnose or treat the brain haemorrhage. Even the most senior medical consultants can make errors and there is always the possibility that a brain haemorrhage has been overlooked leading to avoidable brain damage that may be fatal. Even if the condition is properly diagnosed the surgeon repairing the damage may do so inadequately and cause more problems than he solves. Both of these scenarios are likely to lead to a successful claim for compensation for personal injury as a result of brain haemorrhage medical negligence by the healthcare provider or its employees.

If you or a family member have suffered a brain haemorrhage that was wrongly diagnosed or poorly treated you should contact a specialist solicitor for advice on brain haemorrhage medical negligence compensation claims without delay. Time limits do apply and failure to comply with the limitation legislation may mean that the opportunity to claim compensation is lost forever. To preserve your legal right to receive compensation you should act now without delay.

Brain Haemorrhage Information

A brain haemorrhage is a condition where a blood vessel, usually an artery, bursts inside the brain so that there is localized bleeding within the brain tissue itself. Bleeding in the brain from a brain haemorrhage kills brain cells, resulting in a type of stroke called haemorrhagic stroke. About 13 percent of all strokes are caused by a brain haemorrhage. When the blood spreads in a part of the brain, it causes swelling of the brain called cerebral oedema. The blood itself pools in a mass called a cerebral haematoma. Both the swelling of the surrounding of the brain and the haematoma cause pressure to be applied to surrounding brain tissue, which can further damage cells and which can cause a usually fatal condition known as herniation syndrome, in which a portion of the brain pushes down on the hole where the brain stem passes through the base of the skull.

Risk factors for a brain haemorrhage include trauma to the brain, especially in those under age 50. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of brain haemorrhage in younger people. High blood pressure is a condition which weakens blood vessel walls and can cause a blood vessel to rupture. This is more common in those over the age of fifty. An aneurysm can cause a brain haemorrhage. Aneurysms are bulging areas of arteries that can burst if the blood pressure is too high. Most people with aneurysms are born with them. Blood vessel problems such as angiomas or haematoma in the brain are congenital and can burst at any time.

If you have haemophilia, you can bleed from just about anywhere because your blood does not clot very well. Brain haemorrhages are possible. This is also the case with liver disease in which your blood clotting factors are not made to the fullest extent. Brain tumors can cause brain haemorrhages as well.

Bleeding in the brain can cause a variety of symptoms. Some common symptoms include having the sudden onset of a very severe headache, double vision, nausea, vomiting, seizures or weakness in your arms or legs, usually involving just one side of the body. Speech can be garbled or muffled, swallowing can be difficult and there can be tingling or numbness of body parts. Lethargy, fatigue and decrease in alertness are possible symptoms of a brain haemorrhage. You can have a loss of balance, a loss of coordination, a loss of consciousness or a loss of ability to read or write properly. The symptoms of your brain haemorrhage can vary with the location and size of the haemorrhage. A brain haemorrhage is a serious condition and, should you get any of these symptoms, call 999. Bear in mind that other conditions can mimic a brain haemorrhage but these symptoms are important to pay attention to.

The doctor will likely do a CT scan of the head to see if you have a brain haemorrhage and how big the haemorrhage is. The part of the brain affected will be noted and will determine what your symptoms are. The doctor will also do a neurological exam to see what body parts are affected and to what extent. Sometimes a spinal tap or blood tests are needed. The blood tests see if the clotting is normal in the body.

The treatment of a brain haemorrhage depends on where it is and how big it is. Sometimes surgery is used to evacuate haematoma and to stop the bleeding. The blood pressure is kept low so as to reduce the amount of bleeding that is occurring. Clotting factors are given or fresh frozen plasma if the blood clotting is not optimal. Supportive treatment is needed in some cases where the person has problems eating or swallowing. Corticosteroids are given to reduce the swelling on the brain and diuretics are used to increase urinary output and decrease the amount of fluid in the body. Medications to control seizures are given, even if a seizure has yet to happen.



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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here