Compensation awarded to man following injuries suffered as a baby

A 20 year old man who suffered a devastating brain injury at 3 weeks of age has received around £7m in compensation which will go towards his care needs and adaptations to his home.

Tom (not his real name) was born healthy but 3 weeks after birth his mother noticed he was sleeping for an unusually long time and when he woke he 'startled' slightly. She took him to A&E at the Royal London Hospital but despite her prompt action once Tom arrived at hospital there were delays in giving him the treatment he needed.

Tom started suffering seizures but staff at the hospital did not carry out the necessary investigations immediately.

The day after Tom was admitted the results of a lumbar puncture suggested an infection but having obtained those results the hospital did not start treatment until 3 days after Tom's admission to hospital. By then Tom had suffered severe brain damage that left him disabled for life.

It turned out Tom was suffering from encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus is aggressive and can prove fatal in young babies. Prompt treatment with the anti-viral drug Acyclovir is crucial.

With the help of eminent medical experts law firm Leigh Day, representing Tom’s family, argued that Tom should have undergone a lumbar puncture on the day of admission to hospital and that treatment with Acyclovir should have started that night.

Lawyers argued that with prompt treatment Tom's brain damage would have been less severe and he would have been far less disabled and could have been able to live an independent life.

The Trust responsible for the Royal London Hospital admitted that the lumbar puncture should have been carried out the day Tom was admitted to Hospital.

They claimed though that it was then reasonable to wait to start treatment. Independent experts argued against this assertion as HSV is so dangerous and the treatment is harmless.

As a result of the delay in treatment Tom had been left unable to walk, talk clearly or look after himself. He will require 24 hours a day care for the rest of his life. He currently lives in a local authority house, which is too small for him to use his wheelchair inside, and his Mum has to lift him and do most things for him.

The claim settled for approximately £7 million. We obtained compensation for Tom to enable him to have a better life; to enable him to purchase a property in which he can move from room to room independently in his wheelchair, to enable him to pay for the therapies he needs to keep strong; to enable him to buy the best communication devices so he can make himself understood and can join in conversations.

Specialist medical negligence lawyer Nicola Wainwright, who represented Tom’s family said:

"I am delighted that we have been able to obtain compensation for Tom after a long battle. His case was far from easy and involved many complex legal and medical arguments. However, in the end we were able to show that he suffered avoidable damage to his brain. 

“Tom and his Mum will have to live with that sad fact for the rest of their lives but this financial award will mean Tom's  Mum, whose dedication to Tom's care is inspirational, will be able to provide care for Tom for the rest of his life, and their lives together will be easier.

“Tom loves drama, music and horse riding and I hope he will now be able to enjoy those activities to the full as his basic needs will be taken care of".