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Mother and child win significant damages after hospital negligence

Client stories

A traumatic incident due to substandard care at Lewisham Hospital in 2006 caused our client’s baby, Harry Bartlett, pain and distress and left his mother, Julie, suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Six years after the incident, Express Solicitors helped the family secure £6,000 for Harry for his distress and £18,000 for Julie for the long term psychological damage.

A traumatic night for the Bartlett family

Harry Bartlett was three months old in December 2006, when he was undergoing a pyloromyotomy at Lewisham Hospital. The procedure required him to be put under general anaesthetic.

While the operation went well with no complications, afterwards Harry went into laryngospasm, an uncontrolled and involuntary muscular contraction of the laryngeal cords.

He was immediately treated with muscle relaxant which was administered via IV line, which then needed to be flushed in order to give him maintenance fluids on the ward.

On the ward, a nurse flushed his drip to make sure there were no more blockages, unaware that the IV contained muscle relaxant residue which was flushed back into Harry’s body, leading him to go into respiratory arrest.

Julie immediately recognised something was wrong and called the nurse, who told her that Harry was ‘simply trying to catch his breath’. After Harry’s eyes closed and his lips began to turn blue did Julie insist that a doctor examine Harry. The doctor immediately saw that the child wasn’t getting enough oxygen and began to resuscitate him.

Julie, understandably extremely upset at what was happening, was instructed to sit in the waiting room. As she waited for updates, she believed her son was dead and called Harry’s father to tell him so. She even began planning his funeral. After fifteen minutes, a senior anaesthetist and doctor told Julie that Harry had suffered respiratory arrest and had been put on a ventilator until he could breathe for himself.

Harry was kept in paediatric intensive care for three hours until he could breathe independently again. He was discharged from the hospital three days later and while he had not suffered from any long term medical conditions as a result of the respiratory arrest, he had been subjected to painful and invasive procedures.

A painful legacy

Thankfully, Harry’s brain was undamaged by the potentially extremely harmful episode and he grew into a healthy young boy. However, the incident at the hospital all those years ago did leave scars on the family.

Although Harry did recover well, Julie continued to suffer from severe psychological disturbances due to the trauma of believing that her son had died. Following the incident, she became overly fearful for Harry’s safety and refused to let anyone else look after him. She was referred to a clinical psychologist as she suffered from post-traumatic stress.

Compensating psychological scars as best we can

While it was a wonderful development that Harry physically recovered so well, the incident left a drastic toll on the family. Six years later, the family were still seeing the effects of that fateful night in Lewisham and wanted to explore their legal options for compensation for the pain they’d undergone.

The family contacted Express Solicitors to represent them. The team listened to their story, heard what they’d gone through and believed entirely that the long term effects were still being felt and they deserved compensation, despite six years having elapsed.

Harry’s night in the hospital was a painful and distressing time for him, especially with him being such a young age. The team secured Harry £6,000 for clinical negligence in order to compensate him for his childhood trauma.

However, the most severe long term effects were felt by Julie, who was plagued by persistent psychological anguish and post-traumatic stress for years after the incident, influencing her behaviour and attitudes towards who could look after her son. The team argued the case of how aggressively the consequences of the hospital’s actions had influenced Julie’s life moving forward and won her a compensation settlement of £18,000.