News that the NHS Litigation Authority has had to set aside £235.4m to meet the cost of compensating 60 babies left brain damaged from Hypoglycaemia shows quite what a high financial cost - not to mention the massive human cost of damaged lives – Medical Negligence causes.
The cases concern staff who failed to recognise that the babies had dangerously low blood sugar levels, as a result they developed brain damage and in 2 cases the babies died. The damage done in these cases is often so severe that the babies need 24 hour care for life, adapted accommodation and expensive equipment to ensure they have some sort of quality of life. The amount of assistance available through state provision is generally quite limited. Awards of damages, where Medical Negligence can be proved, are the key to a reasonable future. In around 19 cases over the last 10 years the NHS has recorded paying damages of between £300,000 and £7m, reflecting quite how high the costs of meeting the needs of these seriously disabled victims are.
Failing to note Hypoglycaemia in a new born baby is an event that quite simply should never happen. One of the children I am acting for suffered just this event when a nurse recorded the right readings but in the wrong boxes - a simple clerical error but one that has led to a lifetime of disability.