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Case study: baby brain damaged by hypoglycaemia following medical negligence - £4.5m compensation
Richard was born premature (at 36 weeks) and his weight was very low. Nevertheless, he was well and was transferred to the ward with his mother. On the day he was born, Richard had his blood sugar levels checked and the result was normal. The next day Richard was again checked and found to have a normal blood sugar level.
Jaundice and other symptoms
When Richard was two days old he was found to be jaundiced so blood was taken for bilirubin levels. The level was raised and it was decided to give Richard phototherapy. Later that evening it was noted that Richard was sleepy and not interested in breastfeeding. As he was very quiet, a Paediatrician was asked to examine him. However, the Paediatrician did not attend and so Richard was transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU).
Failure to take blood sugar
The staff on SCBU found Richard to be lethargic and drowsy with jaundice. He was rolling his eyes and arching his back and his crying had increased in pitch. It was thought that the cause of these symptoms could be cerebral irritation, meningitis and jaundice but still, no blood sugar was taken.
Richard was then reviewed by the Registrar (a senior doctor). A blood sugar level was taken but the result was unrecordable as it was so low. It was noted that Richard was displaying a symptom of increased pressure in the brain, sunsetting eyes (when the eyes deviate downwards and large amounts of the white of the eyes were visible). It was thought that he was either septic (had an infection of the blood) or hypoglycaemic (had low blood sugar levels). This was a misdiagnosis; it turned out he was hypoglycemic.
The Registrar ordered that an intravenous (IV) infusion of Dextrose with normal saline should be set up and a lumbar puncture performed. Despite hospital treatment, Richard's blood sugar levels did not return to a satisfactory level for almost 8 hours. As a consequence, Richard sustained severe hypoglycaemic brain damage resulting in visual impairment, severe learning difficulties and behavioural problems.
It was alleged that the Hospital had been negligent in failing to recognise the need to anticipate hypoglycaemia could occur given prematurity and low birth weight. They had failed to undertake regular and appropriate monitoring of his blood sugar especially when he was sleeping and not feeding. It was further alleged that even when the low blood sugar level was noted the Hospital was slow to restore normal blood sugar levels.
During the course of the legal action, the Hospital made an offer of £4.5m. A periodical payments schedule was discussed and agreed on by both JMW Solicitors acting for Richard and the Hospital solicitors.
Has your family suffered due to negligent care leading to hypoglycaemia?
Has there been a failure to recognise medical issues that lead to further problems? Contact JMW today either by our online enquiry form or by telephone on 0800 054 6512 and let us help you move forward with your claim.