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Kettering General Hospital pays £5 million settlement to child who lost sight

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Delayed treatment led to a little girl losing her sight.

Louise Tyler, Head of the medical negligence team, was instructed by the parents of a girl in respect of concerns about the care their daughter received at birth.

The little girl was born prematurely and suffered from a complication to her eyes, known as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).

Diagnosed early enough, ROP can be managed: it can not be cured as such but the effects can be minimised (or mitigated) and it doesn’t have to lead to acute or total loss of vision.

In this case, the parents were concerned that the Hospital Trust had missed opportunities in diagnosing ROP: the symptoms were missed, not acted upon, and the little girl has lost her sight and is now registered blind – understandably devastating for both child and parents.

ROP is a complication that can arise for any premature baby and is not necessarily caused through negligence,  but in this case there were concerns that the care was negligent.

Louise Tyler was instructed to investigate the standard of care provided and whether this outcome could and should have been avoided.

An expert Consultant Ophthalmologist was instructed to comment on the standard of care provided to the little girl and it was established that there was a failure by the doctor responsible for checking her eyes. Namely, that he had not noted signs of ROP and he failed to act appropriately by calling her in for a prompt check.

Expert evidence showed that had an earlier (prompt) check have been undertaken, this would have led to an earlier referral, which would have warranted earlier treatment, resulting in (to some extent) a reversal of the complications.

Expert evidence suggested that the little girl would have avoided her total blindness.

The case was issued with the Court – the Hospital Trust finally admitting negligence and accepting that the little girl should have been recalled for a further appointment; and had that happened she would, at that appointment, have been referred for treatment and as a result would have suffered mild vision loss only. Instead, she is now totally blind.

Having some sight as opposed to having no sight cannot be underestimated and is life-changing.

With an admission from the Hospital Trust, Louise Tyler was able to value the claim and calculate the assistance the little girl would require in the future to enable her to fulfil her full potential in terms of education, employment and being able to look after her own family. Further experts were instructed to assist with this.

A negotiation meeting took place with the Hospital Trust’s legal team and a settlement of a lump sum and annual periodical payment was agreed. The total settlement value was £5million. This settlement was put before a Judge who approved the settlement.

It is important that this award is not seen in the context of being punitive – it is a sum of money that will be needed to give the girl the care, support and the quality of life approaching something that one would normally expect.

At the end of the case, the mother sent an email to Louise Tyler, as follows:

Thank you for all your support and guidance through this process, I honestly don’t think we would have stuck at it if it wasn’t for you. You have manged to get an amazing settlement which will help her so much in her future so thanks again

Additionally, Neelam Maher, a Trusts expert advised on the setting-up of a Personal Injury Trust to safeguard the settlement which was also approved by the court.

Louise Tyler

Posted:

Louise Tyler

Partner

Louise is the Head of the Medical Negligence Team working in this area of law for 25 years. She is a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel, the AvMA (Action for Victims of Medical Accidents) Panel and been appointed to the Executive Committee…