Girl who had limbs amputated after hospital mistake wins eight-figure payout

‘Money cannot bring who your daughter was back but it can secure her future’, Judge Glyn told the girl’s family at the High Court in London

Eleanor Noyce
Sunday 22 January 2023 08:12 GMT
What is sepsis?

A girl who had all four of her limbs amputated after she was wrongfully discharged from hospital has won a multimillion-pound payout.

The child was taken to the emergency department at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey displaying “red flags for meningitis and sepsis”, including a high temperature, fast heart rate, leg pain, drowsiness, and vomiting.

Despite the warning signs, she was prescribed paracetamol and was discharged by the hospital. A few hours later, her parents took her back to A&E after she developed a rash and a fever and she was diagnosed with meningococcal sepsis.

The child was transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit at a neighbouring hospital where she suffered multi-organ failure and required several procedures to treat her infection including a skin graft.

But the infection spread and she had to have above-knee amputations of both legs and above-elbow amputations of her arms.

Her family later brought a claim against Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, stating that if she had been treated urgently then she could have avoided the amputations.

The trust admitted liability at a hearing at the High Court in London on Friday. Judge Caspar Glyn KC approved the settlement – which totalled around £39 million – to be paid partly in a lump sum, with the remainder issued in annual payments for the rest of the girl’s life.

“Money cannot bring who your daughter was back but it can secure her future”, Judge Glyn told the family.

The court was read part of a letter written by Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Neil Dardis to the patient’s parents. Mr Dardis apologised, admitting that her care “fell below the standard [the girl] was entitled to expect.” He agreed that she should not have been discharged.

Data released by NHS Resolution in January 2023 found that the NHS compensates two patients a week for a lost limb following negligence in care.

In the past five years, 605 patients have won such claims, with payouts totalling £189m. The average claim totalling £300,000.

There were a further 314 successful claims where a patient alleged that poor care led to them losing their sight, with compensation payouts of this nature totalling £80m. The average level of compensation rests at £255,000.

Deborah Nadel, from law firm Fieldfisher which represented the family, said: "This child’s injuries and severe disabilities were completely avoidable with proper care.

"All the red flags for meningitis and sepsis were there for doctors to see. Specific protocols for treating these illnesses exist to protect patients and doctors, but they only work if they are followed.

"Settlement will help provide the girl with the equipment, therapy and aids she needs and will help her live her most fulfilling life, despite what happened to her. She is brave and she is determined."

A spokesperson for the NHS Trust told the Press Association: "We are very sorry for the claimant’s injuries and we understand no amount of money can fully compensate for them.

"However we are pleased that the settlement has been approved and we hope the agreed damages will ensure that the claimant can live as independently as possible in the future."

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