Mother receives damages after negligent death of her son
02 December 2019
A mother has received compensation after she tragically lost her infant son as a result of medical negligence.
What happened: Our client's son had received treatment for a tumour in his pelvic region. He was admitted to hospital in between cycles of chemotherapy for infections and fevers.
Just two days after finishing a course of chemotherapy, he was admitted to hospital with a rash, a high temperature and diarrhoea. Over the next few days, his blood pressure dropped and heart rate increased.
His condition deteriorated rapidly over the following week. He became lethargic and deep wounds developed around his anus and bottom which ulcerated, became very painful and eventually turned black in colour.
These ‘red flag’ indicators of infection were ignored despite various opportunities to acknowledge them. Our client was reassured that her son’s condition was normal given his history of chemotherapy. This assurance was given despite the nursing staff failing to take blood samples to identify the infection.
Had they taken the blood samples sooner, they would have realised that the infection was resistant to the antibiotics being used as part of treatment and that he wasn’t improving as he should.
11 days after being readmitted to the hospital, our client’s son was transferred to the intensive care unit where he suffered two cardiac arrests and died despite an initially successful attempt at resuscitation.
Impact: As a consequence of the failure to acknowledge the various ‘red flag’ indicators such as the boy’s fever and high heart rate, as well as the general deterioration of his condition which led to his premature death, our client suffered psychologically and was prescribed sleeping pills and antidepressants.
It was recommended that she undergo bereavement counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help manage the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and her depression.
How Slater and Gordon helped: Our client instructed Slater and Gordon and we obtained expert medical evidence from a consultant paediatric oncologist and consultant medical microbiologist.
Both experts took a critical view of the care given to our client’s son and found that had the infection been identified and appropriately treated on the many occasions where opportunities were presented, the boy would have survived.
We issued proceedings and negotiated a five-figure settlement for our client.
Although no sum of money can undo the devastating loss felt by our client, the money ensures that she can now undergo the necessary counselling she needs to help her through such a difficult time.
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