A girl who had all four of her limbs amputated after being wrongfully discharged from hospital has won a multi-million pound settlement.
The child was taken to the emergency department at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey showing “red flags for meningitis and sepsis”, including a high temperature, rapid heart rate, leg pain, drowsiness, and vomiting.
Despite the warning signs, she was prescribed paracetamol and discharged from hospital. A few hours later, her parents brought her back to A&E after she developed a rash and fever and was diagnosed with meningococcal sepsis.
The child was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit at a nearby hospital where she suffered multiple organ failure and required several procedures to treat her infection including a skin graft.
But the infection spread and she had to have both legs amputated above the knee and an arm amputated above the elbow.
Her family later made a claim against Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, saying that if she had been treated urgently she could have avoided the amputations.
The trust admitted liability at a hearing in the High Court in London on Friday. Judge Caspar Glyn KC approved the settlement – which was worth around £39 million – to be paid in part in a lump sum, with the remainder issued in annual payments for the rest of the girl’s life.
“Money can’t bring back who your daughter is but it can secure her future”, Judge Glyn told the family.
The court 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 standard [the girl] he was entitled to expect.” He agreed that she should not be released.
Data released by NHS Secret in January 2023 found that the NHS compensates two patients a week for a lost limb following neglect of care.
Over the past five years, 605 patients have won such claims, with total payouts of £189m. The average claim was £300,000.
A further 314 claims were successful where patients alleged they lost their sight due to poor care, with such compensation payments totaling £80m. The average compensation level stands at £255,000.
Deborah Nadel, from law firm Fieldfisher who represented the family, said: “This child’s severe injuries and disabilities were entirely preventable with proper care.
“All the red flags for meningitis and sepsis were there for doctors to see. There are specific protocols for treating these illnesses to protect patients and doctors, but they only work if they are followed.
“The settlement will help provide the girl with the equipment, therapy and facilities she needs and help her live her most fulfilling life, despite what has happened to her. She is brave and determined.”
A spokesman for the NHS Trust told the Press Association: “We are very sorry for the claimant’s injuries and understand that no amount of money can fully compensate them.
“However, we are pleased that the settlement has been approved and we hope that the agreed damages will ensure that the claimant can live as independently as possible in the future.”