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Seven Figure Sum For Young Girl Left With Brain Damage After Untreated Birth Infection

We secured a multi-million pound settlement for a young girl who was left with severe disabilities and limited life expectancy after doctors failed to diagnose infections after she was born.

Martha contracted a Strep B infection during her birth. As this was not treated in time, she developed meningitis as well – a common result of the Strep B infection. By the time these infections were spotted, the lifelong damage had been done. Martha was placed in an induced coma and spent the next 2 months in hospital in an incubator. The result of these missed opportunities in her care would leave Martha with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Now seven years old, Martha requires round-the-clock care and has a limited life expectancy. The failure of the medical staff to first diagnose her infections and consequently treat them in time has had a devastating effect on Martha’s quality of life and has been a catastrophic blow to her family. Her father has given up work to look after her, and her mother has considerably reduced her own working hours.

Martha’s mother, Helen, contacted our expert medical negligence lawyers early on to see if we could help. Our team, with the help of clinical specialists, was able to show how Martha’s brain damage could have been avoided if Helen had simply been given antibiotics during her labour. We found that the medical team made a number of mistakes in their care of baby Martha – mistakes that would have an irreparable effect on her life.

Strep B is the most common cause of infection in newborns in Britain. It can be deadly if transmitted in the birth canal, as in Martha’s case. The effect on her life shows the importance of vigilant medical care, both during delivery and post-partum. Although a simple swab test for pregnant women would identify the presence of Strep B and prevent cases such as this, the natal procedure in the UK does not routinely use this method, relying instead on observing high temperatures and ruptured membranes in mums-to-be, which could point them carrying the infection.

We secured a settlement of over £8 million from the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation. The compensation ensures that Martha will always have the care she needs and has access to the support, including therapies and equipment, to help her family give her the best quality of life possible.

Martha was represented by Alison Eddy, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who said of the case: “Had Helen or Martha received the antibiotics, Martha would have been like any other healthy, happy baby and no doubt gone on to live a full independent life with a job, family – everything any other person would experience.”

"I hope that lessons are learnt from the terrible and life-changing errors made in this case in order to improve patient safety in the future and stop any other child suffering such a distressing and avoidable injury.”

Helen, Martha’s mother, spoke about the family’s pain for Martha’s condition, especially in light of how easily it could have been avoided.

“For Martha to be safe and happy as well as being able to enjoy her potentially short life is all we have ever wanted for her. Now Irwin Mitchell has secured this settlement for Martha we do not have the worry and stress of how we will be able to afford to support her needs as we can put in place a full care package and purchase suitable accommodation. However, we will continue to worry about her every day that she lives and we cry for the person she will never be.”

If you or a loved one has suffered due to a delayed or misdiagnosed medical condition, our medical negligence solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Medical Misdiagnosis Claims page for more information.


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