A seven figure sum has been paid in compensation to provide constant care and support to a 20 year old man left severely disabled just three weeks after birth. Delay by a hospital in acting promptly resulted in a severe and devastating brain injury, which meant that the infant would be unable to ever walk, talk clearly or look after himself.
Three weeks after a normal birth, the mother noticed that her baby was sleeping for an unusually long time and would be slightly 'startled' when waking up. Despite taking her child immediately to A&E, there was a delay in being seen and the child had started suffering seizures.
It was only the day after admission to hospital that a lumbar puncture was taken to test a sample of spinal fluid, which indicated an infection was present. There was a delay of three days in total before treatment began but too late to prevent severe brain damage, which left the son permanently disabled and dependent on his mother.
Potentially fatal virus
The results of the lumbar puncture revealed that the baby was suffering from an aggressive and potentially fatal virus known as HSV, which caused encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
During the claim proceedings it was heard that a lumbar puncture should have been performed on the day of admission to hospital and the anti-viral treatment should have started that same night. The lawyers also argued that the extent of the brain damage would have been less severe and disabling if treatment had been promptly provided.
The hospital Trust admitted that the lumbar puncture should have been carried out on the same day of admission to hospital but claimed that it was “reasonable” to wait before proceeding with treatment. Independent experts responded by contesting the hospital’s claim, arguing that because HSV can be lethal and the treatment risk-free, a delay was not necessary.