Baby left with severe brain damage after junior doctor mistook meningitis for tonsillitis will receive seven-figure sum
Health board concedes senior doctor that junior medic said he had asked for a second opinion could not remember being consulted



17:19 GMT, 26 April 2012

A judge has awarded a seven-figure sum to a child who suffered severe brain damage as a baby after a junior doctor failed to diagnose meningitis.

Kate Pierce, now aged six, was just nine-months-old when she developed a life-threatening infection. She was seen by a doctor at Wrexham Maelor Hospital who sent her home saying she had viral tonsillitis.

Health bosses have now conceded that aspects of the care she received there were 'not of an acceptable standard'.

Baby Kate Pierce was just nine months old when she developed the life-threatening infection

Baby Kate Pierce was just nine months old when she developed the life-threatening infection

Kate will now receive the major pay-out after the local health board conceded the doctor may not have sought a second more senior opinion.

As a result of the infection the little girl has severe visual and hearing impairment, suffers epilepsy and has breathing problems. She also has curvature of the spine and suffers with painful hips. Her life expectancy has been reduced and she is entirely dependent on others 24 hours a day.

In 2006, Kate became unwell and was referred to Wrexham Maelor Hospital by an out-of-hours GP.

Once there she was seen by a doctor and diagnosed as suffering from viral tonsillitis.

Unhappy with this diagnosis, Kate’s parents, Mark and Diane, asked for a second more senior opinion. The doctor left the family for 45
minutes and returned claiming he had sought advice from ‘his boss’, a
senior doctor at the hospital.

He assured the family that Kate was well enough to be discharged.

He then sent her home where her condition deteriorated. Two days later she returned to hospital and was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis. She was transfered to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool but sadly had already suffered permanent brain damage.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital in North Wales

Wrexham Maelor Hospital in North Wales. Health chiefs accepted the care Kate received was not of an acceptable standard

In a statement, the parents said: 'It has been horrific for us as a family. We have absolutely no confidence that the hospital or doctor concerned have learned any lessons from this.'

Mr Pierce added: 'The doctor concerned has not faced any
sort of disciplinary action; we feel a complete breach of trust on the
part of the hospital.'

They took Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to court in 2010 when the board refused to admit responsibility for a claim of paediatric negligence.

Following the court proceedings BCUHB conceded that in fact the doctor had not sought a more senior opinion on Kate’s condition, as the person he said he had spoken to had no recollection of being consulted.

A compromise has now been negotiated with BCUHB accepting 75 per cent of responsibility.

Today the compromise has been approved at Mold Law Courts. The next step will be to determine the amount of compensation Kate will receive, but the judge said it will be a seven-figure sum.

In a statement, a spokesperson for
the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: 'Due to
confidentiality we are unable to comment extensively on this case.

'However, it is conceded by the board that aspects of the care provided by the hospital were not of an acceptable standard.

'Sincere apologies have been extended to the family and lessons have been learned as a result of this incident.'