A 10 year old boy who suffered brain damage after doctors at Royal Surrey County Hospital ignored his neonatal jaundice has been awarded a multi million pound settlement to ensure he is provided with care for the rest of his life.
Felix Thompson-Bland was born prematurely at the Royal Surrey County Hospital where he developed neonatal jaundice soon after birth.
Despite being a common condition in new born babies, jaundice, if not monitored carefully and treated promptly, can lead to kernicterus; damage to the brain caused by excessively high levels of bilirubin, the pigment from red blood cells which causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes.
Following his birth, Felix’ bilirubin levels started to rise dramatically – the readings were so high they were off the hospital’s monitoring charts, yet this was not recorded in the medical notes and the right treatment was not given.
Despite clear clinical guidance that phototherapy should be implemented as soon as bilirubin levels reach danger level, staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital started phototherapy too late and when the bilirubin levels continued to rise, no exchange blood transfusion was given.
Felix’s condition worsened and he was transferred to St George’s Hospital but the transfer letter from Royal Surrey Hospital did not even mention the dangerously high levels of bilirubin in his blood.
As a result of the hospital’s failure properly to treat Felix, he now has athetoid cerebral palsy, which means he is wheelchair bound and suffers from excruciating and uncontrollable dystonic spasms.
Because of his muscle spasms, Felix’ drug regime is such that his heart rate and oxygen saturation levels can fall to dangerously low levels at night and he requires specially trained nurses to monitor and care for him while he sleeps.
Felix’ parents hope this settlement will enable them to provide Felix with the care and specialist equipment he will need to make his life enjoyable, safe, comfortable and as near as possible to what it would have been, but for his injuries.
Anne Winyard, a partner in the clinical negligence team at law firm Leigh Day who, along with her team, represented Felix’ parents in their legal battle, said:
“This settlement is vital for Felix - and for his parents and family - to ensure his substantial care needs are met and his life can be as fun and as fulfilling as possible.
“It would be good to think the NHS itself, as well as the doctors responsible for Felix’ neonatal care, have reflected upon the parts they played in failing to prevent his dreadful and avoidable injuries and that they have taken all possible steps to minimise the risk of history being repeated. It would be even better if they told Felix’ family what those steps are and were.”
Mr Justice Roderick Evans, who approved the settlement on Monday 22 October 2012, praised the “extraordinary degree of care” that Felix’ parents had provided him with.