High Court Judge Approves Settlement From NHS Trust That Delayed Diagnosing Baby’s Dislocated Hip

Family Hopes Lessons Have Been Learnt By NHS


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The mum of a 12-year-old girl born with a dislocated hip which hospital staff delayed in diagnosing and treating has spoken of her relief after medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell secured her daughter a six-figure settlement for future care.

Chloe McCarthy, from Colchester, has suffered with pain, restricted movement in her legs and has undergone several surgical procedures following the errors made by staff at Newham University Hospital after she was born in January 2002 with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH). She is likely to require hip replacements from as young as 40 years of age.

Her mum Dawn instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done to help her daughter and is speaking out for the first time today (3 November) after a judge at the High Court in London approved a £120,000 future care package for Chloe from Barts Health NHS Trust.

The settlement was agreed following expert evidence commissioned by the leading law firm which found that a letter inviting the family to an appointment at the orthopaedic clinic on 24 April 2002 never arrived and was not followed up until the family chased this up. A follow-up appointment was then not scheduled until 3 July 2002.

On the 3 July an urgent referral for an ultrasound at the Royal London Hospital should have been made but this did not take place until the end of the month and she was not diagnosed with DDH until the middle of August, three months after a diagnosis could have been made had the family received the original appointment letter for April.

The evidence found that if the referral had been made sooner, Chloe would have undergone a closed reduction (manipulation of the joint to align it back in the socket) followed by wearing an orthopaedic cast for three months to allow the joint to set and this would have been successful, in the Claimant’s expert’s opinion. This would have avoided the multiple procedures (and future hip replacements) she instead had to endure that have not been successful. .

The Trust admitted liability for the delay in referring Chloe to the Royal London Hospital but refused to agree how this impacted on Chloe’s prognosis. Settlement was reached weeks before the case was due to go to trial.

Auriana Griffiths, a medical negligence Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s London office representing the family, said:

Expert Opinion
Chloe’s life has been blighted by her hip condition yet it could have been successfully corrected while she was still a baby had it been diagnosed and treated quickly. Time is of the essence in DDH cases and treatment needs to take place before the babies start to weight bear if there is to be a successful outcome.

“Instead she struggles with pain, has required several surgical procedures with more to come in the near future. She cannot take part in any sporting activities and is likely to need hip replacements at a relatively young age which is obviously incredibly difficult for a young girl to come to terms with.

“The settlement reflects the future care Chloe is likely to need - she has only recently undergone a further operation to her hip to try and improve her prognosis – and she will need further procedures.

“We hope that today’s hearing gives the family peace of mind that Chloe can access the support she will need including care and therapies. We also hope that this case will serve a reminder to NHS workers about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of DDH to prevent anyone else from going through a similar ordeal.”
Auriana Griffiths, Partner

Dawn added: “Chloe has faced dozens of hospital appointments, being in agonising pain and taking daily medication as a result of her condition which, as her mother, is obviously very hard to watch.

“The older she gets the more debilitating the DDH is as she cannot lead the same active lifestyle as her friends and struggles with walking distances. Her condition impacts the whole family, including her siblings who are not able to enjoy active holidays or hobbies as it’s not fair on Chloe because she can’t take part.

“I felt let down by the hospital staff and felt that they could have done more for Chloe so instructed Irwin Mitchell to investigate.

“I am pleased that Chloe finally has justice and her future care needs will be met, but nothing can turn back the clock and truly make up for what she has been through and what she will endure in the future.

“We would like reassurance from the Trust that lessons have been learnt from Chloe’s case in the hope no other child’s life is impacted in a similar way.”

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical misdiagnosis, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.