Holly was admitted to the Accident and Emergency department at the hospital on 29 August 2000. She was 14 months old at the time and was suffering from symptoms of meningitis. She was negligently discharged without appropriate investigation or monitoring of her condition and without any diagnosis.
Throughout that night and the next day she continued to have symptoms of meningitis. She was admitted to the casualty department at the neighbouring Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital where she was diagnosed with meningitis and treated with strong antibiotics.
The delay in the investigation and the introduction of antibiotic treatment caused Holly to suffer profound bilateral hearing loss and inner ear damage affecting her balance.
Happily she made a remarkable recovery with the aid of a cochlear implant and she remains a gifted musician.
The hospital denied liability on two grounds:
- Firstly, there had been no negligence in discharging Holly from hospital suggesting that her parents statements as to her condition were exaggerated.
- Secondly, the hospital argued that even if treatment by antibiotics had been given on the night of the 29 August she would still have suffered from profound bilateral hearing loss. There would not have been a different outcome.
We obtained expert evidence from a number of medical experts. An A&E Consultant confirmed that Holly should not have been discharged. Our expert paediatrician confirmed that antibiotics should have been administered almost immediately as a precaution and a paediatric neurologist confirmed that the failure to give antibiotics in the early hours of 30 August caused or contributed to her bilateral hearing loss.
Expert evidence was exchanged and eventually the hospital accepted responsibility and apologised for its errors.
Holly received £125,000 in compensation. The case was funded by Legal Aid.
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