Payout As Hospital Admits Mistakes Caused West Midlands Boy’s Brain Damage

Family Secure Vital Funding For Future Care

16.03.2011

The family of a young boy who suffered severe brain damage as a result of hospital failures have today received a settlement worth more than £7 million, which they say will secure access to the care and rehabilitation he will need for the rest of his life.

Louis Peers from Solihull, who is now 11 years old, has cerebral palsy as a result of mistakes made after his birth at Heartlands Hospital on 6th December 1999.

Heart of England Foundation NHS Trust had previously admitted liability for failings in Louis’ care and the settlement approved today (Monday 14th March) by the High Court in Birmingham, includes both a lump sum of £3 million, plus annual payments to pay for his care.

Julie Lewis, a medical law expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who represented the family, said today’s financial settlement should not be viewed as a ‘lottery win’ but would be used to fund a lifetime of care which Louis will need.

Louis Peers was born by caesarean section at Heartlands Hospital. Although full term, Louis weighed only 5lb 4oz. Despite not feeding properly and becoming increasingly sleepy and floppy – all red flag signs that something was wrong – staff failed for three days to investigate further and instead told his worried mother, Christine, that there was nothing wrong.

By the time a glucose test was finally taken on 9th December, baby Louis’ blood sugar levels were revealed to have dropped dangerously low and he was also suffering from hypothermia. He was transferred to the neonatal unit where he was put on a dextrose drip but by this time the brain damage that he had suffered was irreversible.

Louis now suffers significant physical and mental impairment. He is able to walk with difficulty and wears splints to support his lower legs and ankles. He has difficulty feeding himself, cannot dress unaided, has problems with his vision and also suffers from epilepsy.

Julie Lewis, from Irwin Mitchell who has represented the family during their six and a half year legal battle for justice, said: “Medical professionals should have appreciated the fact that Louis was at a high risk of developing hypothermia and hypoglycaemia. His lack of growth in the womb during the last few weeks of gestation and the fact that he was only 5lb 4oz when he was born, coupled with the fact that he was not feeding and very sleepy, should have quickly alerted midwives and doctors that something was seriously wrong.

“A simple glucose test would have quickly revealed why Louis was so unresponsive but instead his condition was left to deteriorate until things became critical and the damage to his brain was irreversible.

“Louis now suffers life long difficulties, which means he will never be able to work or live independently. Although no amount of money will ever give Louis the chance to live the normal life he should have had, today’s settlement will provide him with financial security for the rest of his life.

The money has already allowed the family to move into a specially adapted home which can accommodate all of Louis’ needs, including live-in carers. The settlement also provides Christine and Karl with the peace of mind that in the years ahead, no matter what happens to them, Louis will always be well provided for.”

Commenting on today’s settlement, Christine Peers said: “The last 11 years have been a real struggle. Karl and I have two daughters and two sons including Louis. We try to do all the things a normal family does, like going on holiday, but it has to be planned like a military operation, because not only do we need accommodation for us but we need to take two carers along with us to help with Louis.  He can’t be left alone in case he has a seizure and poses a constant danger to himself.

“I feel really let down by the midwives who were supposed to take care of Louis. I trusted them and their mistakes are something which my son now has to live with for the rest of his life

“We took legal action because initially the hospital tried to convince us that Louis’ condition was just one of those things. Without legal help, we would not have uncovered the medical evidence that his condition was entirely preventable and I would urge any other parents who find themselves in a similar situation to ask questions and not be fobbed off.

“I really hope that the Trust has learned lessons from the errors made by its staff and that no other parent has to go through the heartache my family has suffered.”