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Hospital Negligence Case of Delayed Diagnosis Successfully Concluded

30 April 2013

Clinical Negligence Solicitor Iona Meeres-Young has successfully concluded a claim on behalf of a little boy, L, whose Cleft Palate went undiagnosed until he was nearly 2 years old.

During L’s neonatal check on the day after he was born, the defendant’s neonatologist reported that “no abnormalities were found”. The section for the check on the mouth contained the wording “no cleft lip”. When L started to talk, his parents found that only they were able to understand him. They had also observed L regurgitating food through his nose when eating. When L was nearly 2 years old, his nursery school teacher alerted his parents to the possibility of Cleft Palate. He was subsequently assessed and the Cleft was diagnosed. Cleft repair surgery was performed and L has been undergoing speech and language therapy.

Iona represented L in his claim, brought by his father and Litigation Friend, against Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the basis that they failed to undertake an adequate neonatal examination in the days after L was born and that this represented a breach of duty that no body of medical opinion would accept as reasonable. Further this failure led to a delay in diagnosis and subsequent surgery until L was nearly 2 years old.  As the surgery was conducted well after L had learned to speak, he suffered significant speech and language difficulties requiring intensive therapy. 

Liability was admitted and Iona negotiated a considerable award in damages. In view of L’s status as a minor, the award was approved by the court. His parents are using some of the compensation to ensure that L has the very best speech and language therapy on a frequent basis. 

Cases like this acutely demonstrate how pursuing a Clinical Negligence claim gives clients the resources to obtain the very best quality rehabilitation available. The NHS therapy L was receiving prior to settlement was inadequate. He was not having enough sessions and he was seeing a different therapist each time. 

It is now hoped that his new privately funded intensive speech therapy program will enormously reduce the chance of L having a permanent speech impediment. 

Iona Meeres-Young is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.