Medical Negligence at Birth

HS V LANCASHIRE TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST (2015)

Recently a claim was brought about by a child who suffered an extreme brain injury, due to the negligence of the hospital who failed to recognise that she had a streptococcal infection at birth. The child was without independent mobility, was doubly incontinent and completely dependent on others throughout all aspects of daily life.  With profound development and cognitive impairments, no speech and limited sight, and severe behavioural issues, she was expected to reach the age of 49 with no improvements.

The NHS trust admitted liability, allowing the court to assess the amount of damages to be recovered for future loss. Furthermore, the court was instructed to determine the damages recoverable for future care, care management, loss of earnings, holidays and hydrotherapy.

With concerns to future care, the court agreed that two full time, day time carers would be necessary, proportionate and recoverable once the child reached adulthood. Taking into account the parents’ full time jobs, and their two other small children to look after, it was agreed that two night-time carers would be required throughout the child’s life, another recoverable cost. Regarding care management, ongoing costs were estimated at £17,000 per year, however concerns were raised about supplying the carers through an agency and compromising the care manager’s time spent on that aspect of the child’s care.

Based on ASHE figures, a considered assessment was made on the sum the child might have earned, had she been able to work. The calculation worked out at £300,000, with no deductions for transport costs to and from work.

£5000 per year was awarded for holidays, since the child’s disabilities meant that holidays would have cost more than they would have done. Also recoverable for life were the twice weekly visits to a local, private hydrotherapy pool, at £125,000. Finally, the child was awarded at the upper end of the range for injuries of maximum severity, and received £305,000 in general damages.

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