The parents of a nine day old baby who died following a series of failings by staff at Barnet Hospital have received compensation from the NHS Trust responsible for the hospital.
Baby D was born prematurely on 6 August 2012. Although he required ventilation support and intravenous feeding with Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) following his delivery, he progressed very well in his first days of life.
Baby D was soon able to breathe independently and his condition stabilised. His parents were reassured that their son would be able to be discharged home from hospital within a couple of weeks.
However, on 14 August 2012, when he was just eight days old, Baby D started to show signs of unexpected respiratory distress.
Several investigations were undertaken into the potential causes of his deterioration, including an abdominal x-ray, but no explanation for his symptoms was found.
Despite oxygen support and a prescription of antibiotics, Baby D’s condition continued to deteriorate. That evening, doctors noted that he was pale and that his heart rate had increased.
In the early hours of the following morning, Baby D’s parents were asked to attend the hospital urgently as he had suffered a cardiac arrest. His parents rushed to hospital to find that their son had suffered a further episode of cardiac arrest. Despite efforts to resuscitate him and several doses of adrenaline, Baby D died that morning.
Leigh Day acted on behalf of Baby D’s parents at the inquest into his death. The pathologist who undertook Baby D’s post-mortem concluded that the there was a large accumulation of TPN fluid in Baby D’s lungs which had caused him to suffer cardiac arrest.
At the Inquest, neonatal staff caring for Daniel P accepted that on the abdominal X-ray which was undertaken on 14 August 2012, there were clear signs of fluid accumulating in Baby D’s lungs.
On cross-examination, the Neonatal Consultant responsible for Baby D further accepted that had this collection of fluid been recognised, as it should have been, then the fluid could have been drained and Baby D would have survived.
Nicola Wainwright and Rebecca Davis from the Clinical Negligence team at Leigh Day acted for Baby D’s parents at the inquest and in their claim against the Trust. Rebecca Davis said: “we are shocked that although the Trust had undertaken its own investigation into Baby D’s death and identified a failure to properly interpret the X-ray of 14 August 2012, his parents were never made aware of this. They only discovered what had happened to their son at the Inquest into his death.”
The North London Coroner who held the Inquest, Senior Coroner Andrew Walker made a formal recommendation to the Trust that staff be alerted to the dangers of TPN fluid accumulating in lungs of very small babies being fed intravenously.
The parents of Baby D said “We now know that our son’s death could have been prevented if staff had been more aware of the possibility of fluid accumulating in his lungs, or if basic steps had been taken to review our son’s x-ray of 14 August 2012.
There is nothing that can now be done to bring our son back or take away the pain and suffering he endured, but we hope that staff will have learned from what happened and that other parents do not have to experience what we have.”