A 10-year-old boy has been awarded £6 million in compensation after NHS staff failed to spot that he was suffering from dangerously low blood sugar levels. His mother said the brain damage that her son suffered was the result of “poor care”.
Neonatal hypoglycemia affects between one and three babies out of 1,000
In May 2005, Rachel Albans attended the Bassetlaw District General Hospital in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, to give birth to a son. After a pregnancy that ran relatively smoothly, Rachel had a seemingly complication-free labour, giving birth to Bradley. However, just a few days later the baby boy developed hypoglycemic brain damage.
Neonatal hypoglycemia is a rare complication of childbirth that is understood to affect between one and three of every 1,000 babies born in the UK each year. The condition occurs in babies whose blood sugar levels are too low and if left untreated, the consequences can be devastating. Some babies are at a higher risk, including those who are born prematurely or are particularly small – or big, including those babies born to diabetic mothers.
In babies, brain damage is a common consequence of untreated neonatal hypoglycemia due to the fragility of the brain after birth. According to Department of Health guidance, shortly after being born, babies’ heels should be pricked so that a blood test can be undertaken to check that their blood sugar levels are stable. Babies with the condition can appear jittery and excessively sleepy. Another indicator of a baby at risk of the condition are those infants that are failing to feed, although anecdotal evidence suggests that concerns about feeding from new mothers are often not taken sufficiently seriously by medical staff.
Despite indications that Bradley could be developing the condition, midwives at Bassetlaw District General failed to take any action. Just two days later, he developed hypoglycemic brain damage, which has left him physically disabled with learning difficulties and dependent on others for the rest of his life.
“There were clear warning signs which required prompt investigation and treatment”
With Bradley left needing 24-hour care for the rest of his life, his mother commenced legal action. Her case centered on the fact that midwives visited Bradley at home, as well as seeing him following his birth in hospital, yet failed to spot vital warning signs. Rachel stated that she had voiced concerns about her baby being excessively tired and failing to feed, but feels her worries went unanswered. An expert speaking on her behalf said:
“She raised concerns about these symptoms on several occasions but was reassured that they were nothing to worry about.
In reality, there were clear warning signs of low blood sugars which required prompt investigation and treatment."
At London’s High Court, the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust – the trust responsible for Bradley’s care – admitted liability at an early stage. A £6 million settlement was agreed, which will help pay for readjustments to the family home, as well as care support to assist Bradley’s parents.
Speaking after the hearing, Rachel said:
"Finding out Bradley's brain damage was due to poor care was extremely distressing and we have faced some difficult times.
It is reassuring to know … that we can finally begin to move on with our lives and focus on ensuring Bradley can benefit from the support that is now available to him.
Our main priority has - and always will be - to ensure we can meet Bradley's needs and that he has access to help and support he needs.
However, we are very keen that lessons are learned to ensure that other babies in the same situation get the care that they urgently need."
How to make a compensation claim for clinical negligence during pregnancy and childbirth
You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you.
If you want to enquire about making a compensation claim for negligence associated with pregnancy, child birth and maternity care, please contact one of our maternity and childbirth claims solicitors on 0333 123 9099. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the medical negligence and the injuries sustained to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will be able to help you.