Medical Negligence

Delayed treatment leads to Group B Strep diagnosis

After delayed treatment a baby boy got a Group B Strep infection, which lead the baby developing dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Read his story here

05 January 2023

Woman with baby showing book

Bobby* was born prematurely on the 16th September, he remained in hospital with his mum for three days, so that his blood glucose levels could be monitored. Over their first few days at home Bobby’s mother was visited by midwives and healthcare workers to check on Bobby’s progress, to ensure that he was feeding and putting on weight.

Bobby’s mother kept a diary to note the length and frequency of his feeds. Which is why on 29th September she knew Bobby hadn’t fed for about 10 hours.

His mother called her local birth centre and told them about Bobby’s disinterest in food. She told them that he was grizzly, cold and lethargic. Despite his symptoms, the birth centre didn’t ask Bobby’s mother to take him into the centre for a check up immediately, but told her to arrange an appointment for the following day.

The following day, Bobby still hadn’t fed. Concerned, his mother immediately took him to the local birth centre where he was noted to be cold and grunting. An ambulance was called, and Bobby was taken to the Emergency Department where he was started on IV antibiotics.

A lumbar puncture was performed, and it was later confirmed Bobby had meningitis caused by Group B Strep (GBS) infection. As a result of his meningitis, Bobby went on to develop severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Along with cerebral palsy, Bobby also suffered from:

  • Visual impairment
  • Infantile spasms
  • Reflux
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Slow growth
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea

Tragically, Bobby passed away when he was eight years old as a result of complications associated with the severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

How Slater and Gordon is helping

To help Bobby’s family with their claim our expert team of medical negligence solicitors gained expert opinion from various medical specialists, in different medical fields including: midwifery, neonatology and microbiology.

This has been undertaken to understand what treatments and processes should have been undertaken, and what may have happened to Bobby if he had been provided with the care and treatment.

When Bobby’s mother phoned the birth centre on 29th September, she should have been told to bring him in immediately. Had this advice been given then, on balance, an ambulance would have been called and he would have been taken straight to hospital.

Bobby had a GBS infection and this would have been diagnosed within several hours after admission and primarily by lumbar puncture.

Whilst tests were underway (lumbar puncture, bloods, etc.) an infection would have been the working diagnosis and Booby would have been started on broad spectrum IV antibiotics which would have started treating the GBS infection immediately.

These IV antibiotics would have been administered over 12 hours sooner, had Bobby’s mother been given the correct advice.

It is then likely, that Bobby would not have gone onto develop severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy, because the bacteria would not have - by this point - breached the blood-brain barrier. Had the bacteria breached this barrier, it would not have had the opportunity to cause the extensive brain injury it did due to the antibiotic treatment.

What were the signs and symptoms of Group B Strep?

Bobby had symptoms of GBS infection and typical early signs include the following:

Grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seems to be working hard to breathe when you look at the chest or tummy, or not breathing at all.

  • Being very sleepy or unresponsive.
  • Inconsolable crying.
  • Being unusually floppy.
  • Not feeding well or not keeping milk down.
  • A high or low temperature, and being hot or cold to the touch.
  • Changes in skin colour (including blotchy skin).
  • An abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate.
  • Low blood pressure (identified by hospital tests).
  • Low blood sugar (identified by hospital tests).

Early identification of the signs and symptoms of these infections are essential for early diagnosis and treatment. Most early-onset GBS infections can be prevented.

Our partner, Group B Strep Support carries out vital work to raise on the need for more widespread screening of GBS and the warning signs which medical staff should consider if there is a history of Group B strep. This will help in ensuring the safety of newborn babies and will hopefully prevent future cases like those of Bobby from occurring.

How we can help

Our medical negligence team contains experts and specialists in many different areas, including solicitors with a special interest in GBS cases, such as Laura Preston, who has worked on several GBS cases and sits on the GBSS legal expert panel.

If you or your baby has been affected by GBS infection and you believe that the care or treatment that you received from your medical professionals may have been substandard, please contact us on 0330 041 5869 or online.

*name changed for anonymity

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