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Case Study

New-born suffers stroke following mother's undiagnosed swine flu at NHS hospital in the North

Claire Horton reached a compromise settlement in a tragic case against an NHS Trust. It was alleged that the child suffered a stroke just before their birth, because of their mother's untreated swine flu, following admission to hospital with flu-like symptoms during late pregnancy.

Sadly, following emergency caesarean section due to the mother's deteriorating condition, she died as a result of the virus.

Despite the mother's admission to hospital occurring at the height of the swine flu' epidemic, the possibility that she may have the H1N1 virus was never considered, she was not tested so no anti-viral treatment (Tamiflu) was given. Following the delivery, it was confirmed she had the H1N1 virus.

The baby was subsequently diagnosed with having suffered a neonatal stroke and a subtle seizure within the first 24 hours of life. By the age of three months, the client was not using their left arm normally and now suffers from mild left-sided hemiparesis, meaning they are unable to move the left arm and leg without some restriction.

Claire Horton first initiated proceedings on behalf of the Estate and dependants of the mother, along with associated claims relating to her death. The Trust eventually admitted it was medically negligent in failing to diagnose and treat the mother for H1N1 flu with Tamiflu and that, had they done so, she would have survived. These claims were settled and approved by the court.

The baby's birth injury claim however continued to be investigated with the help of medical experts, including a professor of infectious diseases, to help establish a mechanism to explain how the untreated virus in the mother caused the stroke in her baby.

They argued that the untreated virus, led to an inflammatory cascade in the mother, which predisposed her to blood clots, one of which developed in the placenta (the Defendant agreed that the baby's blood clot in the brain probably started in the placenta) and passed to the baby, causing their stroke. Notwithstanding, an absence of published evidence linking stroke and maternal viruses, Claire's team proceeded to a prelimnary trial on the issue of the liability for the baby's stroke, given the strength of the opinions of experts.

In a settlement meeting just prior to trial, the Trust made a substantial offer of compensation to settle the claim, without admission on their part of the link between the mother's untreated virus and the baby's stroke. In circumstances in which both sides had a substantial risk of losing at the trial, the offer was accepted.

Contact us

For further information about brain injury and birth injury claims, please call Claire Horton on 03304606748 or email Claire.Horton@fieldfisher.com.

Alternatively

All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win no fee. Find out more about no win no fee claims.

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