A girl who had all four limbs amputated after being wrongly discharged from hospital has won a multimillion-pound payout.
The child was taken to the emergency department at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey and showed “red flags for meningitis and sepsis” including high temperature, rapid heart rate, leg pain, sleepiness and vomiting.
Despite the warning signs, she was prescribed acetaminophen and discharged from the hospital. A few hours later, her parents took her back to the emergency room after she developed a rash and fever and was diagnosed with meningococcal sepsis.
The child was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit of a neighboring hospital, where he suffered from multiple organ failure and required multiple surgeries to treat his infection, including a skin graft.
But the infection spread and she had to have both legs amputated above the knee and her arms above the elbow.
Her family later filed a lawsuit against the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, saying she could have avoided the amputations if she had received urgent treatment.
The trust admitted liability at a hearing in the High Court in London on Friday. Judge Caspar Glyn KC approved the settlement – which was valued at around £39million – to be paid partly in a lump sum, with the remainder in annual payments for the rest of the girl’s life.
“Money can’t bring back who your daughter was, but it can secure her future,” Judge Glyn told the family.
Part of a letter written to the patient’s parents by Neil Dardis, chief executive of Frimley Health’s NHS Foundation Trust, was read to the court. Mr Dardis apologized and admitted her care “fell below standard [the girl] had a right to expect.” He agreed that she shouldn’t have been fired.
Data released by the NHS Resolution in January 2023 found the NHS is paying two patients a week for a lost limb after negligent care.
Over the past five years, 605 patients have won such claims, with payouts totaling £189m. The average claim totals £300,000.
There were a further 314 successful lawsuits where a patient claimed poor care caused him to lose his sight, with compensation payments of this type totaling £80m. The average level of compensation is £255,000.
Deborah Nadel, of Fieldfisher law firm, who represented the family, said: “This child’s injuries and severe disabilities were entirely preventable with proper care.
“All red flags for meningitis and sepsis were visible to doctors. There are specific protocols for treating these diseases to protect patients and doctors, but they only work if followed.
“The settlement will help provide the girl with the equipment, therapy and tools she needs and help her live her fullest life despite what happened to her.” She’s brave and she’s determined.”
A spokesman for the NHS Trust told that press association: “We deeply regret the plaintiff’s injuries and we understand that no amount of money can fully compensate for them.
“However, we are pleased that the settlement has been approved and hope that the agreed damages will ensure that the plaintiff can continue to live as independently as possible.”