Admission of liability for young girl with quadriplegic cerebral palsy

Boyes Turner’s brain injury lawyers have secured an admission of liability from an NHS hospital for a young girl with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Our client was born in a healthy condition but contracted group B streptococcal meningitis within the first few weeks of life. Early signs of the infection were incorrectly missed by hospital staff. Their failure to recognise that the baby had an infection which needed urgent intravenous antibiotics led to her suffering group B streptococcal meningitis. She is now permanently disabled.

At eight weeks of age our client was taken to see her GP when her mother was concerned that she was unsettled,  crying abnormally loudly, not feeding properly and appeared to be in pain. The GP thought that apart from some diarrhoea the baby was well, but told the mother to take her to hospital if she was still worried. The paediatricians keep our client in hospital for observation however did not immediately consider infection as a differential diagnosis. 

Routine blood tests were carried out for infections and clotting abnormalities, one of which revealed an elevated white blood cell count, indicating the presence of bacterial infection. There was a delay in informing the paediatricians of this important diagnostic information. If the paediatric team had been told urgently about the result of the test, the baby would have been given intravenous antibiotics within an hour and would have survived without permanent brain damage. The defendant hospital staff negligently failed to communicate the result of the test to the paediatricians who were unaware of the elevated white cell count all through the next day.

As the baby struggled to cope with the untreated infection she became increasingly unwell, refusing to feed, with increasing temperature and heart-rate and reduced oxygen saturation. Over the course of three hours the nurses repeatedly asked for the baby to be medically (doctor) reviewed. She was eventually seen by the consultant paediatrician who, despite the nurses’ concerns, failed to consider that the baby might be suffering from an infection. Correct action would have been to order a septic screen which would have revealed infection and resulted in treatment with intravenous antibiotics. The baby continued to deteriorate throughout the morning, becoming less responsive. By midday she had developed signs of mild brain swelling. A CT scan was interpreted as normal buther oxygen levels were dropping, she was whining and irritable with jerking movements. Unable to feed, she was fed by naso-gastric tube and finally, late in the evening, the registrar ordered a lumbar puncture and septic screen.

A further hour and forty minutes later our client received her first intravenous antibiotics with a diagnosis of late onset neonatal sepsis. Cerebro-spinal fluid from her lumbar puncture confirmed that she was suffering from meningitis. She was given medication for her seizures (fits) and was transferred to the intensive care unit. MRI scans revealed a severe brain injury.

As a result of the delay in diagnosing and treating her group B streptococcal infection our client suffers from permanent disability. She has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She suffered post-meningitis hydrocephalus which needs   a ventricular peritoneal shunt. She has impaired hearing and vision, speech and feeding. She also suffers from epilepsy.

As our client’s severe neurological injury was caused by negligence within the first eight weeks of her life, she was eligible for Legal Aid. Boyes Turner’s specialist brain injury lawyers investigated the claim and obtained an admission of liability from the defendant hospital. Having secured judgment on liability and an interim payment to meet our client’s immediate needs, we are now working with experts to value her claim.

Knowledgeable, organised, responsive, diligent, empathetic and human. I deal with many legal firms during the course of my work and have found the Court of Protection team at Boyes Turner to be, 'Simply the best'.

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