The Claimant, a 9-year-old boy, received total damages of £3,200,000 as a lump sum, and periodical payments of £130,000 per annum rising to £200,000 per annum from age 19 for the rest of his life, in an out-of-court settlement following a delay in diagnosis and treatment of meningitis, resulting in the development of cerebral palsy with significant learning disabilities and reduced cognitive development.
The Claimant (C) was referred by his GP to the Defendant hospital (D) with suspected meningitis. On admission C was diagnosed with a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract and kept in overnight. C was seen the following day during a ward round by the Consultant, who maintained a diagnosis of a viral infection. C continued to deteriorate and later that day was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Treatment was delayed and antibiotics were not started until early the following day.
C alleged a delay by D in diagnosing meningitis and failing to prescribe antibiotics on the evening of admission, or by early afternoon the following day at the latest. D admitted it was 90% liable for C’s injuries.
As a result of the delay in diagnosis and treatment C developed cerebral palsy and suffered significant learning disabilities. His cognitive development was limited, similar to that of a young child. He suffered physical disabilities although was active and able to move on his knees instead of his feet. He had difficulty concentrating for other than a very short period of time and suffered behavioural problems. He was able to follow only very simple commands. His communication was limited to only a few sounds, gestures, and movements. He had some understanding of cause and effect. He suffered from boredom and frustration. C’s sleep was affected because he was uncomfortable and suffered fits. He required care during the night. His life expectancy was reduced, estimated to be until age 54 by C’s expert and just under 52 by D’s expert.
The Out of Court Settlement, as approved by the Court and based on 90% liability, awarded C a lump sum of £3,200,000, periodical payments of £130,000 up to age 19 and £200,000 for the rest of his life.
The breakdown of General Damages (pain suffering and loss of amenity) was £287,000 on the basis that D was 90% liable.