Hospital Admits Giving Baby Wrong Medication In Events Leading Up To Tragic Death


The parents of a baby boy who was given the wrong heart medication in the lead up to his tragic death have spoken of their anger at how the hospital tried to cover up its error and their fears that the same ‘devastating’ mistake could happen again.

Joseph Wood was born on 14th January 2010 at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley where he required additional care after suffering from poor feeding, breathlessness, a fast heart rate and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels).

Two days later Joseph was diagnosed with a heart defect and wrongly given the drug Prostacyclin, which is known to decrease blood flow to the vital organs, instead of Prostaglandin, which helps to keep the heart duct open. His parents were never told.

He was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital that day in the hope of giving him life-saving surgery, but he tragically passed away shortly after arrival leaving his distraught parents Michael and Angela desperate for answers about what had gone wrong.

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell have now secured justice for Joseph’s parents after The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust admitted breach of duty by administering the wrong medication in the events leading up to Joseph’s death.

But Caroline Stokes, a medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell representing the Wood family, says that the case raises serious concerns about the systems in place at the hospital and says it is disappointing that the family have been given no answers about how the mix-up happened and what has been done to prevent it from happening again.

Joseph’s mother Angela Wood, 40, from Dudley, said: "We were absolutely horrified when we were told Joseph had been given the wrong drug but it was the fact we had to take legal action to get this information that we find so difficult to accept.

“We sat in a meeting with a number of people involved with Joseph’s care and we find it hard to believe that they could sit there and not say anything about a mistake they must have known about – it’s an insult.

"Nothing can change what happened to Joseph and it was the most upsetting and stressful situation of our lives. We just hope by bringing what happened to people’s attention it will help to stop mistakes like this happening again."

Following their loss, Michael and Angela suffered from an acute stress disorder and severe adjustment disorder. An undisclosed settlement secured by Irwin Mitchell from the hospital Trust will now help them to continue to rebuild their life with daughters Jessie, who was born in December 2011, and Courtney, now aged 14.

Angela added: “Joseph’s death will always be part of our lives and he will always be part of our family. It has been an immensely difficult few years for us but we are now focused on giving our daughters the best childhoods possible.

“We just hope that systems have been improved to prevent the same error from happening again as we have had no proof from the Trust that this is the case. We hate to think another family could be at risk of the same horrific ordeal we have had to endure.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims

Expert Opinion
The family were obviously shocked to learn of the mix up in drugs as despite attending a meeting to discuss the reasons for Joseph’s death, this error was never raised.

“Understandably, Joseph’s parents are incredibly angry that the hospital failed to provide the correct treatment to their son as he battled for his life. But it has been worsened by the fact the Trust failed to tell them about what happened and has still given no answers as to why it happened.

“The nature of Joseph’s heart condition was incredibly serious and complex and we will never know whether he would have pulled through were it not for this mistake. Nevertheless, it is hugely important that the Trust ensures every possible step is taken to prevent the same error from happening again and we would like to see proof that this has happened.”
Caroline Stokes, Associate