Express Solicitors represented the family of an injured child, which had unfortunately suffered catastrophic brain damage with life-long consequences.
The parents of the injured child approached us 18 months after the incident had occurred. In addition to their distress, they were also experiencing great financial hardship due to high care costs for their brain damaged child.
In the months following birth, the family was forced to move into a larger home with specialised facilities and were unable to work due to the constant care required, causing them to fall into debt.
It was found that their child’s head had grown at an abnormally fast rate as a result of a benign brain tumour. While this condition is extremely rare, there were precautions which should have been taken that could have prevented this tragedy from happening.
Six months after birth, the parents took their child to an emergency walk-in centre as they appeared to be generally unwell. It was there that the child’s tumour was discovered and immediately removed, although it was too late to prevent injury and the child suffered permanent brain damage as a result.
The tumour was found to have caused over production of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which accumulated in ventricles of the child’s brain causing their head to grow abnormally fast. Because of elasticity in the skull, the child was able to compensate for the rapid increase in the size of their head.
The child’s head circumference was not measured on his birth leading to a catastrophe of events. The enlarging head circumference should have been discovered by the Health Visitors on their home visits to the child, but it was later found that they had failed to properly measure the child’s head following birth and at subsequent appointments.
If the Health Visitor had measured the head and spotted that there was an abnormality, the tumour could have been removed much earlier and the brain damage could have been avoided or significantly reduced.
The case was taken to trial and the Court found that the Health Visitors had in fact made mistakes that fell below the reasonable standard of care. The Health Visitors should have either measured the child’s head or sought further advice from a doctor.
There were three allegations of negligence:
- Firstly, when the child’s head was measured at 6 weeks old it had expanded from the 25th to the 50th centile over a 4-week period. This was not normal and potentially very significant, but the Health Visitor negligently interpreted it as reassuring, ‘steady’ growth. The head circumference should have been remeasured 2-4 weeks later.
- The child saw a Health Visitor again aged 4 months. The Health Visitor would have known from the red book that the child had missed his GP check, but she did not tell the parents to have the child seen by the GP. This was the second negligent mistake.
- The third allegation of negligence was that by the time the child was 4 months old their head was over the 99th centile when their body weight was below the 15th centile. The child would have looked, when undressed for a medical examination, out of proportion. The Health Visitor missed this, and no-one raised the alarm.
As a result of the Defendant’s negligence the Court entered Judgment in the Claimant’s favour. Despite being unable to undo the trauma or damage that was done, our client’s parents are delighted to have received a seven-figure interim payment which will cover future care costs for their child, giving them peace of mind and a better quality of life.
When asked about this case, Carlos Lopez, Head of Clinical Negligence said:
“This is a very sad case with devastating consequences for the Claimant and their family. The Defendant robustly resisted liability and it was a momentous victory for the family when they obtained judgment in their favour at trial. This was down to the sheer hard work and determination of the Clinical Negligence Team at Express Solicitors who in partnership with the medico-legal experts instructed, some of whom are the best in the country, and Katie Gollop KC’s steely determination and forensic analysis, managed to secure an excellent outcome for the Claimant and their family.”
The child will continue to need 24-hour specialist care for the rest of their life following this catastrophic brain injury. The Court’s decision was vital to our client’s family as this type of specialist treatment can only be provided on a private basis, as the provision available on the NHS is far below the required level.