Queen Alexandra Hospital settles multi-million pound case following baby's delayed meningitis treatment | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Queen Alexandra Hospital settles multi-million pound case following baby's delayed meningitis treatment

Paul McNeil was instructed by the parents of LXH. When he was four months old, his parents took him to the Out of Hours GP at the Alexandra Hospital, part of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. They were worried that he was very unsettled, floppy, and vomiting with a high temperature for several days. The GP walked him to the A&E department and called for a paediatrician.

Two hours later LXH was seen by an emergency doctor and was referred to a paediatrician. After a further two hours the paediatric registrar diagnosed viral gastroenteritis, even though there was no history of diarrhoea. LXH was given paracetamol and was admitted to hospital for observation. Crucially, there was no investigation instituted into why he was lethargic, irritable, and feverish with copious vomiting.

A paediatric consultant reviewed LXH on the ward round the following morning. He witnessed an unusual episode of abnormal tone lasting 5-10 seconds (the hospital subsequently accepted this was a seizure). The consultant described it as a brief unexplained episode. No monitoring took place during the day and in the late evening LXH's mother alerted another paediatric doctor as his arms and legs were shaking and he was drooling. This was probably another fit though nothing was recorded at all in the medical notes in relation to this incident and there were no further investigations attempted.

Early on the third morning, LXH was noted by the same consultant to have "lead pipe rigidity" in his arms. Even then, no action was commenced. After seeing another consultant late in the afternoon, by which point he was having clinical seizures, investigations into the cause of the progressive illness were finally started. A sample of spinal fluid confirmed that LXH had viral meningitis and he was urgently commenced on antiviral medication. An MRI scan of his brain performed the following day showed damage to his temporal lobe.

At the age of 7, LXH has severe cognitive and behavioural difficulties and he attends a local Special Needs school. He requires constant supervision.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals filed a Defence partially accepted negligence in wrongly diagnosing LXH with viral gastroenteritis and, that on the third morning, investigations into the cause of the illness should have been started, but the allegations made in respect of care on the first two days in hospital were strongly denied. Most importantly, the Trust argued that the dye was cast by the time LXH reached hospital on the first day. It said that there was no treatment which would have made a difference to the outcome.

With advice from medical experts in paediatrics, virology, neurology and neuro-radiology, Paul pursued the case to a trial on Liability. The law favours claimants in these "material contribution" cases. Although medical science was unable to determine the extent to which the delay caused damage, LXH was entitled to recover the whole of compensation if he could show that the delay caused harm which more than minimally contributed to his overall catastrophic neurological injuries.

Close to the trial, the lawyers met to discuss the liability issues. An agreement was reached at this meeting to compromise liability very substantially in LXH's favour.

The focus is now to quantify the claim so that LXH receives the funds to pay for care, housing, transport and education.

After the settlement was approved by the High Court, LXH's parents said:

"Back when we went through our child's illness we felt very lost and uncertain for the future. After speaking with Fieldfisher and being guided through this process it has given us new hope. The settlement isn't just about finances, it's about security for our child which we now have! Paul and Henry have always been available to us and they have guided us through possibly the most difficult time a parent would ever have to face. Thank you so much for all that you have done for us."

For further information about delayed diagnosis claims or meningitis claims please call Paul McNeil on 0330 460 6804 or email paul.mcneil@fieldfisher.com or or call Henry Kirwan on 0330 460 6766 or email henry.kirwan@fieldfisher.com.


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Meningitis Claims