Misdiagnosis of epilepsy leads to expected compensation
Seven Leicester families, whose children were misdiagnosed or mistreated for epilepsy by paediatrician Dr Andrew Holton, are today (Thursday 27th July) expected to have their claims for compensation approved by a County Court Judge.
Today's hearing at Nottingham Magistrates Court, follows acceptance of liability by the University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust.
An earlier report from the NHS Trust identified that Dr Holton, who worked for 10 years as a Consultant Paediatrician at Leicester Royal Infirmary, had misdiagnosed and mistreated 618 children. However, to date only around 400 of these families have come forward to seek legal advice.
Dr Holton both misdiagnosed children and prescribed inappropriate medication. For some sufferers of epilepsy at most two anticonvulsant drugs are acceptable, however, Dr Holton was prescribing as many as six different tablets to some children under his care. Some of the children wrongly treated never had epilepsy at all. Some of those in turn had underlying conditions such as autism or attention deficit problems, which were masked by the anti-epileptic drugs.
Richard Follis, a solicitor with national law firm Irwin Mitchell, who is acting on behalf of some 170 of the families said: "Today's settlement will offer some sense of closure for seven families at the end of a very traumatic struggle. Many other cases are still being investigated and waiting to be reviewed by a panel of experts. However, what is of particular concern is that around 200 children-almost one third of the total number identified as misdiagnosed or mistreated, have still not come forward to seek legal advice and representation. In part this may well be as a result of cultural barriers.
"We believe Dr Holton treated many patients from the Asian community but the ethnic minorities are underrepresented among the families who have come forward so far. I urge anyone concerned about whether their child was correctly diagnosed or treated by Dr Holton to seek advice, particularly as there is a time limit for bringing legal action. Some families have said that as there is a group action they are automatically included. This is incorrect. Any family with concern must lodge their own claim or they will simply be left out."
Misdiagnosed with epilepsy by doctor
Amongst those due to settle today is the Lane family, whose daughter Emily, now 16, was a patient of Dr Holtons. Her mother Samantha says: "Emily first went to see Dr Holton when she was about seven as she was suffering from migraines. Although three EEGs indicated she did not have epilepsy Dr Holton insisted on diagnosing her as suffering from it and prescribed a cocktail of drugs to treat her.
"Emily had been such an active child, full of personality so it was a shock when shortly after she began her medication she became zombie like. She had no energy and consequently no social life. She felt constantly nauseous and was often sick. I did try and challenge Dr Holton when he attempted to prescribe yet another drug, as at this point Emily was taking up to 30 tablets a day, however I was firmly told never to question his authority again. Emily took the tablets for nearly four and half years until a panel review re-examined many of Dr Holtons patients and found that most, including Emily, didn't have epilepsy."
Samantha continued: "Emily is now 16 and is starting to gain confidence, however I feel that Dr Holton destroyed her childhood. My family and I are appalled that Dr Holton is still able to practice and fear that he may do the same to other children. I would love to say that today brings the end to what has been a harrowing experience for Emily and the family however, my son, who was also treated by Dr Holton is now waiting for his case to be heard."