Meningitis kills baby after University College London Hospital ignores illness | Fieldfisher
Skip to main content
Case Study

Meningitis kills baby after University College London Hospital ignores illness

Mark Bowman was instructed by the parents of Christopher, an eight month old infant, after a hospital had failed to recognise and treat symptoms of meningitis.

The family were Christmas shopping in Oxford Street when Christopher developed an acute illness. They immediately took him to the A&E Department at the University College London Hospital (UCL).

Christopher was not seen by a nurse for over an hour. The nurse recorded a very high pulse rate and a temperature of 38.4ºC. Two hours later he was seen by a junior doctor, by which time he could barely lift his head and had vomited twice.

The doctor performed a cursory examination and diagnosed tonsillitis. He prescribed calpol, nurofen and penicillin and discharged from hospital without further treatment.

Christopher's condition continued to deteriorate and on admission to the A&E department were the symptoms of meningitis recognised and treatment begun.

Time of arrival at Royal Free Hospital was registered at 18:13 and he was seen within 15 minutes. The triage nurse recognised the symptoms of meningitis including a rash on his chest and he was immediately referred to a doctor. Shortly afterwards a diagnosis of meningococcal septicaemia was made, but it was too late by this point and Christopher died at 23:00.

UCL's own investigations accepted mistakes in the way in which Christopher had been treated and the GMC (General Medical Council) was called to investigate the junior doctor who discharged him.

Initially the hospital denied responsibility for the death and argued even with proper treatment that Christopher would still have died.

We obtained an opinion from a consultant paediatrician and subsequently liability was admitted. Obviously the baby's parents were distraught at the loss of their son. Following negotiations, the parents received £50,000.

At the end of the case, the mother said:

"Throughout the case Mark was very helpful, very compassionate and very, very good. He would always help and listen when I was tearful or upset and was more than just my legal adviser; he was always there for me"

Contact us

For further information about hospital negligence claims and medical negligence claims, please call Mark Bowman on 03304606794 or email


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.

Sign up to our email digest

Click to subscribe or manage your email preferences.