A young girl who lost all four limbs due to a hospital error has been awarded a £39 million settlement by the High Court.
Lawyers for the child, who cannot be identified, said she was taken to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey with what were described as “red flags for meningitis and sepsis”, including a high temperature and heart rate, leg pain, and drowsiness after vomiting.
But she was discharged after being given paracetamol, her lawyers said, and when her parents took her back to A&E a few hours later with a rash and a fever, she was diagnosed with meningococcal sepsis.
She was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit of another hospital and suffered from multi-organ failure, and also required several procedures including skin grafts to treat the infection.
The young girl subsequently had above-knee amputations of both of her legs and above-elbow amputations of her arms, reports the Mirror.
Her family brought a claim against Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, arguing that if she had been treated promptly with antibiotics, she would not have been as ill and would have avoided the amputations.
An agreement was reached after the trust admitted liability.
At a hearing on Friday at the High Court in London, Judge Caspar Glyn KC approved the settlement of around £39 million – part in a lump sum and the rest in annual payments for the rest of her life.
Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel KC, for the girl and her family, said: “It’s a very sad case in which the claimant sadly lost all four of her limbs after not being diagnosed promptly enough in relation to meningitis.”
The barrister said that as well as requiring the amputations, the child also has significant scarring over her body.
Ms Gumbel continued: “She is an extraordinarily brave little girl who is managing in school to do very well academically.”
The court heard part of a letter written by Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Neil Dardis sent to the girl’s parents.
In the letter, Mr Dardis apologised, adding that her care “fell below the standard (the girl) was entitled to expect” and that she should not have been discharged.
Bradley Martin KC, for the trust, added: “There is no amount of money that can truly compensate (her) for her injuries.
“She will have access to the care and technology she needs.”
Deborah Nadel, from the law firm Fieldfisher representing the girl and her 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.