20 May 2015
Managing Low Blood Sugar Levels - £13m Award for Brain-Damaged Boy
A boy who suffered brain damage at birth has been awarded £13m in compensation.
The 11-year-old boy – who will always have the mind of a six-year-old – suffered brain damage after doctors at Walsall Manor Hospital, West Midlands, failed to treat his abnormally low blood sugar levels following his birth in 2003.
This award highlights the harm that can be caused by simple failures by hospital staff to manage low blood sugar levels.
Babies who do not feed well in the first few days of life can suffer hypoglycaemia – low glucose levels. Blood tests to check glucose levels are easily performed and the situation can be easily managed with infusions of dextrose. However - as this case so tragically illustrates - failing to manage low blood sugar levels can lead to catastrophic brain injuries and a life time of dependency.
In this case, the failures by staff at Walsall Manor Hospital left a boy permanently brain-damaged, blind, with limited speech, weakness down his left side, a severe learning difficulty and profound behavioural problems.
An award for damages such as this cannot turn the clock back. What it can do however, is restore some quality of life to the boy, providing him with the means to have suitable housing, the equipment he needs, and a care regime for life.
The package he received includes a substantial lump sum of £1.45m plus annual payments to meet his care needs of £88,000 until he is 16, £120,000 until he is 20, and then £145,000 a year for the rest of his life.
Clearly, this boy and his family did not receive the standard of care they were entitled to. As a result, he will need round-the-clock care and he will never be able to work.
Sadly this is not an isolated story. In this case, the failure was to manage low blood sugar levels, but in another case of mine a nurse wrongly recorded a baby’s glucose level, entering the right figures but in the wrong boxes. This was a simple clerical error, but led to disastrous consequences including a severe brain injury and a life-time of disability.
Paul Sankey is a Senior Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitor leading the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Clinical Negligence team in London.
If mother or baby were injured during pregnancy or child birth due to clinical or medical negligence, call our Medical Negligence Solicitors for a free consultation on 0808 175 8105 or contact us online and we will call you.