Martha Has Been Left With Severe Brain Damage After Doctors Failed To Diagnose Devastating Infection At Birth
A girl, who suffered severe brain damage during her birth, will receive a structured seven figure multimillion pound settlement after the High Court today approved a sum which will provide her with the care she needs for the rest of her life.
Martha, now seven, was left with severe brain damage after doctors at Royal Surrey County Hospital failed to diagnose a devastating Strep B infection and meningitis at birth. As a result Martha has cerebral palsy, severe brain damage and requires around the clock care. She is a life-limited child.
Martha’s parents instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to negotiate a settlement package (including care, aids and equipment, suitable accommodation and therapy needs) following the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitting liability for Martha’s injuries.
Now after an approval hearing yesterday, 14 November 2016 in the High Court, Martha will receive damages to cover the cost of her on-going care for the rest of her life.
Just one day after Martha was born on 16 December 2008, Helen and Adam were told their little girl had contracted Group B strep during birth and had developed meningitis as a result. An astonishing number of mistakes were made and there were severe delays in the treatment being given this led to Martha suffering life changing injuries.
Group B strep is the most common cause of infection in newborns in Britain. Harmless to the estimated one in four women who carry the bacterium, it can be fatal for babies if it is transmitted in the birth canal, causing illnesses including meningitis and blood poisoning.
Martha was so desperately ill that she was placed in an induced coma and spent the following two months in an incubator in hospital.
In another devastating blow, Helen, Martha’s mother, subsequently learned that had she been given antibiotics during labour, Martha's condition would have been prevented - something Royal Surrey County NHS Foundation Trust acknowledged in 2010 when they admitted liability.
“It turned our world upside-down,” said Helen. “Martha can be a very happy and content child who enjoys her life as much as she can but this has destroyed her life and ours as a family.”
“Martha father’s has had to give up his work to care for Martha and I have had to reduce the hours I work.
“Some people wrongly think compensation is a windfall but it is not. It ensures Martha is able to access the support and care needed for her, for as long as she lives.”
“For her 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.”
Irwin Mitchell has been working with Martha’s family to secure a settlement for a full care package for the rest of her life.
Alison Eddy, Senior Partner and expert medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Martha, said: “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.
"The settlement package will fund Martha’s ongoing care and therapy; along with any adaptations she may need to her home, for the rest of her life which will enable her to live more comfortably.
"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.”
Figures from Public Health England reveal Group B strep infections in newborns increased from 200 in 2005 to 300 in 2010. While treatable with a simple course of antibiotics the UK does not routinely offer pregnant women the swab test that many other European countries do, unless done privately.
Instead, the UK relies on a risk-based approach in which doctors and nurses follow guidelines to identify women with factors that may indicate GBS, including ruptured membranes and a high temperature.
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.