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The importance of managing infection in children

Managing infection in young children presents clinicians with many difficulties, but if they get it wrong the outcome can be catastrophic including death, Brain Injury, Amputation and serious disability.

The Daily Telegraph recently reported the death of two year old Brooklyn Harrold from Northampton from infection. Brooklyn had been taken to Northampton General Hospital on 9th May suffering from a high temperature, she was admitted and kept in overnight but discharged at 9pm on 10th May even though the paper report that Brooklyn’s mother Leanne begged the hospital to re-examine her. Leanne said that she was called a “paranoid mother”.

Within 24 hours an ambulance was called and Brooklyn was taken back to Northampton General Hospital. Blood tests were carried out and it emerged that Brooklyn was suffering from a serious infection, septicaemia. Having been sedated in preparation to be transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, she died.  

It is reported that the hospital have offered their sincere condolences to the family and that an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Brooklyn’s death has been started. Understandably the family are distraught about what has happened and are taking legal advice.  

What investigations can be made now?

Northamptonshire County Coroner was reported by the Telegraph as saying that no Inquest will be held.  

The hospital are undertaking an internal investigation, but the family can instruct specialist solicitors to bring a Clinical Negligence Claim. The case may give the family the answers that they need.

In a clinical negligence case the actions of the treating doctors will be reviewed by an independent medical expert instructed by solicitors to address whether the standard of treatment received was acceptable. It would be a defence if the treating doctors can point to a responsible, even if a minority, who would have treated Brooklyn as she was treated at Northampton General Hospital.

Many experts make reference to the NICE Clinical Guidelines. These Guidelines which include specific guidance for medical professionals in treating children who have a feverish illness are used to help treat symptoms effectively and to achieve the proper standard of care.  

What is concerning in the report of this case is the suggestion that full blood tests were not undertaken on the first admission and that Brooklyn’s mother’s concerns were dismissed.

Our specialist clinical negligence team do see the concerns of parents being dismissed by treating doctors. This is despite NICE Guidelines stating that one of the factors to be considered on admission to and discharge from hospital, when a child has a feverish illness, is parental anxiety and instinct.  

The consequences of failing to diagnose and treat infection in children can be catastrophic. Though hospitals face pressure not to admit unnecessarily, parents must be heard. In recent years I have seen and acted for children whom have suffered amputation and brain injury through meningitis when their fever has not been acted upon and sadly some children have died.

If you, your child or a member of your family have been affected by clinical negligence and you would like without obligation advice please contact Clinical Negligence Solicitor Laura Morgan direct by telephone on 0161 383 3619 or by email at LMorgan@slatergordon.co.uk.

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