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Baby’s Life is Lost

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Pearson Solicitors’ Medical Negligence team are handling a case of a new baby where failure to escalate the case to a senior paediatrician led to her deterioration and death within a few hours of arriving at Tameside General Hospital.

Baby was born in good condition at 39 weeks + 5 gestation with no issues but returned to hospital 10 days later.  Mum was concerned that baby’s nappy contained streaks of blood and a few hours later witnessed that her vomit was tinged with pink.

Baby was assessed by a triage nurse who prioritised the urgency of the case as category 2 – which means the baby needs to be seen urgently within 10 minutes.  Unfortunately this case was not escalated for paediatrician assessment. Key observations were not recorded or blood sample taken.

Two hours later Mum noticed that baby had developed a rash. She reported this to a nurse and baby was seen 10 minutes later by an A& E doctor with no paediatric experience. The impression was of either an allergic reaction or an infection. A referral to a paediatrician for assessment was planned.  This plan was approved by a more senior doctor but baseline blood tests or other standard observations were not requested.

Twenty minutes later a repeat set of observations were taken and referred to a paediatrician. 20 minutes later, Mum and baby were referred to the paediatric unit when a paediatric nurse noted various abnormal signs.

By this time Mum and baby had been at hospital for over 4.5 hours.  The baby’s pallor was grey, she was grunting and the nurse witnessed progression of the rash.  An urgent referral to the paediatrician followed who appreciated the gravity of baby’s condition.

Despite reasonable attempts at resuscitation the baby sadly died less than 24 hours after arrival at hospital.

Expert evidence from a paediatrician supports the view that there was a significant delay in medical assessment of the baby in the first few hours after arrival in A& E.  There was substandard delay in paediatric assessment, but for these failures of care, the baby would have received treatment which could probably have saved her life.

Jacqueline White, Head of our Medical Negligence team explains, “This was a case in which the triage nurse failed to comply with the requirement for urgent medical assessment, in the case of a 10 day old with alarming symptoms.  This led to a delay of more than three hours in medical assessment.

When medical assessment finally took place there was a failure to appreciate the gravity of the baby’s condition and the need for urgent paediatric treatment”.

He concludes, “These failures of care led to the baby dying of the recognised complications of sepsis.  But for substandard care she would probably have survived.  This was a tragic outcome which has had enormous repercussions for the mum and her family.  Mum is understandably intent on ensuring that lessons are learnt from this case with a view to improving patient safety and ensuring that no other family need to go through what she and her family have endured”.

For advice, help and guidance on any medical negligence issue please call the team at Pearson Solicitors on 0161 785 3500

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Jacqueline White


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