Baby left profoundly deaf due to hospital errors - £1 million

'Daisy', now 13

Daisy was left profoundly deaf after staff on a special care baby unit delayed treating her newborn jaundice which led to permanent damage to the nerves that enable hearing. Sally Leonards, a partner in JMW’s specialist medical negligence team, secured £1 million in compensation for Daisy to help her to cope financially with her life-long disability.

Jaundiced at birth

Daisy was one of twins, conceived by her parents Caroline and Matthew through IVF and was a much-wanted baby. Everything progressed well with the pregnancy up until Caroline’s 20 week anomaly scan when it was noted that Daisy was measuring small. This was managed with regular scans at the hospital and for a time there were no further concerns.

However approximately two months before her due date Caroline began to feel unwell and tests revealed she was suffering from pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a condition that can affect pregnant women and causes high blood pressure which can be potentially serious for mother and child. The hospital was unable to control Caroline’s pre-eclampsia so a week or so after the diagnosis it was decided to deliver Daisy by emergency C-section. Daisy was born in a good condition and was admitted to the special care baby ward due to her prematurity and the fact that she was a small baby. Despite Daisy having jaundice, Caroline and Matthew assumed that as she was on the special care baby ward she would be taken care of and there was no need to be overly concerned.

Delayed phototherapy

A few days later, Matthew arrived at hospital to visit Daisy to find that she had been moved and was receiving treatment for jaundice in the form of double phototherapy. Matthew was shocked by this development as up until that point all the care provided had been fairly routine. Matthew was informed by hospital staff that Daisy’s bilirubin levels- the substance that causes yellowing of the skin and eyeballs – had been high enough to require phototherapy treatment.

In actual fact, the treatment should have been started a day earlier but had been delayed because a blood test had not been done and staff hadn’t appreciated the potential seriousness of the situation. A newborn baby, and particularly one who was born prematurely, who is jaundiced 24-hours after birth requires very careful monitoring and urgent treatment if bilirubin levels become too high.

Later that evening Matthew was told by a doctor that Daisy may require an exchange blood transfusion.

Profound deafness

Early the next morning, when Matthew and Caroline were at home they received a call from the hospital to say that they were going ahead with the exchange blood transfusion. The hospital later claimed that the transfusion was a success as the dangerously high levels of bilirubin had been reduced. However several months later, after being referred to hearing specialists because of her history of high bilirubin levels, Daisy was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf when she was nine-months-old.

Successful medical negligence claim

Matthew and Caroline had noticed that communicating with Daisy was difficult so had suspected there could be something wrong. Nevertheless Daisy’s diagnosis still came as a shock due to the problems it would pose for her at every stage of life. After researching how Daisy’s hearing loss could be linked to the jaundice she suffered as a newborn they realised this had potentially been mismanaged by the hospital. If treatment is provided urgently then permanent injury can usually be avoided.

Matthew and Caroline contacted the medical negligence specialists at JMW for advice due to their extensive experience in cases relating to mismanagement of jaundice in babies. Daisy’s case was taken on by partner Sally Leonards who was successful in obtaining a compensation settlement of £1 million to help Daisy to cope with her life-long disability.


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