Medical Negligence

Missed diagnosis leads to life-changing brain injury

A ten-year-old boy whose meningitis wasn’t properly diagnosed as a baby is now suffering from a life-long brain injury. Read more about his story here.

29 November 2022

Parent holding hands with small child in sunny field

Laura Preston, principal lawyer, and Emily Welstead, associate solicitor, acted for a 10 year old boy, Jack, who sustained permanent brain damage as a result of a delay in diagnosing meningitis which was likely caused by late onset group B Strep infection.

Our client

As a result of a delayed diagnosis of his meningitis as a baby, likely caused by late onset group B Strep infection, Jack* suffered from a brain injury which will unfortunately have a permanent impact on his life.

Jack’s mother became pregnant in 2011. When ten weeks pregnant, she tested positive for group B Streptococcus (GBS) and was given oral antibiotics. When Jack was born prematurely, his mother again tested positive for GBS and Jack was given antibiotics, remaining in hospital for 40 days.

Jack then became notably unwell on 3rd March 2012, and began to display the following symptoms:

  • Struggling to breathe (grunting and noisy breathing)
  • Crying inconsolably
  • Not feeding well or keeping milk down

After his mother took him to hospital, Jack was checked over and then discharged in the early hours of 4th March. His medical records don’t show that anyone considered his history of Group B Strep during this time. Unfortunately, Jack’s condition significantly deteriorated, and he was re-admitted to hospital later the same day. By this time, he was also displaying the following symptoms:

  • Very sleepy and unresponsive
  • Unusually floppy

After being re-admitted, Jack was diagnosed with meningitis and his parents were told his condition was critical. He was given IV antibiotics to try and fight the infection.

How Slater and Gordon helped

After our specialist medical negligence solicitors presented the case to the hospital involved in Jack’s care, they agreed a settlement on liability in favour of Jack.

Following investigations, we alleged that there had been a delay in diagnosing and treating Jack’s meningitis, and that his history of group B Strep, both antenatally and after birth, should’ve been considered more by the medical professionals who saw him. Late onset group B Strep is uncommon, but can occur in babies up to the age of three months. The infection presents a very significant risk in new-born babies, especially in those who’ve been prematurely, like Jack.

As a result of the delay in diagnosing and treating meningitis, ten-year-old Jack suffers from epilepsy, visual impairment and severe learning difficulties including global development delay. Jack also has no sense of danger, and currently requires 24-hour care.

The treating hospital agreed a settlement on liability in favour of Jack. The treating hospital also agreed to pay Jack an interim compensation payment which was used to fund care for Jack as well as treatments and therapies which he needed and a home which was more suitable for Jack’s needs. Laura and Emily worked closely with Jack’s case manager to ensure that Jack and his family were well supported.

Following extensive investigations in respect of the value of the claim, Jack’s case recently settled for £18 million. This means that Jack will have access to the care, support and treatment that he needs, for the rest of his life.

The work that GBSS are doing to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of group B Strep; the need for more widespread screening; and the warning signs that medical staff should consider if there is a history of group B strep is vital to ensuring the safety of newborn babies and will hopefully prevent future cases like those of Jack from occurring.

How can Slater and Gordon support you?

To raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of group B Strep, Slater and Gordon is a now proud partner of Group B Strep Support (GBSS) charity. GBSS carry out vital work to raise awareness on the need for more widespread screening of GBS, the warning signs that medical staff should consider where there’s a history of group B Strep, and the signs and symptoms of the infection. This education is vital to ensuring the safety of new-born babies and will hopefully prevent countless future babies experiencing the negligence that Jack went through.

If you or your baby has been affected by GBS infection and you believe that the care/treatment that you received may have been substandard, call us today on 0330 041 5869 or contact us online here.

Our medical negligence experts know the importance of supporting you and your family through this most difficult time and will be sensitive to your needs and challenges. As well as lawyers who are experts in medical negligence, we also have trained nurses and midwives on our team with the expert knowledge to help build your case.

*Client’s name has been changed for the purpose of anonymity.

All information was correct at the time of publication.

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