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Jaundice brain damage case highlights need for duty of candour
17 January 2014
Lawyers acting for a boy who suffered catastrophic brain damage due to appalling London hospital failures have said his case highlights why the duty of candour for NHS workers due to come into force this year is so vital.
The boy was born healthy but sustained serious and permanent brain damage while under the care of a maternity unit. Since his birth the hospital has denied that any mistakes were made but has now made a full admission of negligence and apologised to the family.
The child has cerebral palsy, is deaf and will be dependent on others for the rest of his life after suffering a form of brain damage called kernicterus, which is caused by severe jaundice. He cannot stand or walk and has to be fed via a feeding tube.
However if simple steps to treat his spiralling jaundice had been taken his brain would not have been damaged and he would have made a full recovery.
The child's family was devastated to learn of his brain damage as they had serious concerns about the care provided to him while he was in hospital after his birth. After the trust refused to accept any wrongdoing they instructed specialist brain injury team at law firm JMW who investigated and found worrying errors.
After denying any mistakes had been made since the birth the trust has now admitted that a failure to properly monitor and treat him caused his brain damage and has apologised for the failings.
The child's grandmother commented: “Since he was born life has been a constant struggle. We have not only been fighting to ensure he is properly taken care of, but also fighting the trust to get them to acknowledge the mistakes that were made.
“There are many challenges ahead but to have finally won this battle with the trust is a huge relief. I feel justified and I dearly hope that now the hospital has admitted its failings it means that safeguards will be put in place to protect other children from having their lives devastated the way his life has.”
Angharad Hughes, a specialist brain injury solicitor at JMW, is representing the child in his legal battle. She commented: “The boy's brain damage has completely devastated his life so it is very concerning that the trust denied these failings for so long and compounded an already very distressing situation for his family. His disabilities are severe and he requires specialist care, equipment and accommodation to be able to cope with them so it is very sad that the trust has sought to drag out his case unnecessarily.
“This case is a perfect example of why the duty of candour for the NHS, which is due to come into force next year, is so vital. Patients and families need to trust that the healthcare professionals they come into contact with will be open and honest and that mistakes that lead to avoidable patient injury will be admitted at the earliest opportunity.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle on the details below:
D. 0161 828 1868
Note to Editors
JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones.