'Lying doctor failed to spot meningitis' that wrecked a girl's life: Now she is set for a seven-figure sum
Health board concedes senior doctor that junior medic said he had asked for a second opinion could not remember being consulted
21:44 GMT, 26 April 2012
Before the tragedy: Kate Pierce as a baby, just three days before she was taken ill in March 2006
A baby suffered catastrophic brain damage after a junior doctor failed to spot she had meningitis and lied to her parents that he had sought a second opinion from a consultant, a court heard yesterday.
Dr Halenahalli Vijayakumar told Mark and Diane Pierce their daughter Kate was merely suffering from viral tonsillitis.
But when they requested a second opinion, he disappeared for 45 minutes before returning and, they say, informing them that his ‘boss’ agreed with his diagnosis.
But the junior hospital doctor had not sought the second opinion of a senior doctor and had simply lied to the couple, it is alleged.
Nine-month-old Kate was wrongly sent home, but hours later she was taken back to the same hospital where she was correctly diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis.
Doctors battled to save her life and although she survived, she suffered serious brain damage.
Kate, now six, has breathing difficulties, epilepsy and other health problems and needs round-the-clock care at her home.
The Pierces’ ordeal began in March
2006 when Kate fell ill and they contacted an out-of-hours GP, who told
them to take her to hospital.
Her distraught parents later sued the trust that runs the Wrexham Maelor Hospital claiming the junior doctor had failed to get a second opinion and had lied to them.
Now: Six-year-old Kate with her parents Mark and Diane Pierce
Mrs and Mrs Pierce, who live in North Wales, launched legal action against Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board.
Yesterday a compromise was reached, with the board accepting 75 per cent responsibility for the brain injuries Kate suffered.
The family are in line for a compensation payment of more than 1million to help fund care for Kate in the coming years.
The case, at Mold County Court, was adjourned to agree the payout.
'A complete breach of trust': A court heard how Kate Pierce suffered catastrophic brain damage after an alleged misdiagnosis
Last night Mr Pierce, a senior police officer, said: ‘It has been horrific for us. Although an internal hospital review found the doctor had not sought a second opinion, they have done absolutely nothing about it.
‘The doctor concerned has not faced any sort of disciplinary action. We feel a complete breach of trust on the part of the hospital.
‘We have absolutely no confidence that the hospital or doctor concerned have learned any lessons from this.
Baby Kate Pierce was just nine months old when she developed the life-threatening infection
‘Kate is brain damaged, she is registered both deaf and blind, she is fed through a tube in her stomach, she has chronic lung disease, she has severe epilepsy and sleep apnoea which means someone has to be with her 24 hours of each day.
'She has no control of her head. As a family we need support and carers who know Kate.’
Mrs Pierce, who works in human resources, has had to reduce the hours she works so she can look after Kate and her older sister, Ellen, nine.
Dr Vijayakumar, who qualified in India in 1990, is still practising as a doctor at a GP surgery, without any restrictions on his licence.
Last night the practice manager at the Dr Asokan and Partners surgery in Mold, North Wales, said Dr Vijayakumar was on holiday.
In court yesterday, Judge Milwyn Jarman QC said Mr and Mrs Pierce had been unhappy with the initial diagnosis and requested a second opinion.
Wrexham Maelor Hospital in North Wales. Health chiefs accepted the care Kate received was not of an acceptable standard
‘Their case is that the doctor went and returned saying it was confirmed,’ he said.
‘The defence of the board is that when Kate presented at the hospital on March 29, 2006, she was not suffering from a bacterial infection but simply a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.
‘It is their case that the doctor took adequate steps and made an accurate assessment but because he was inexperienced he should have arranged for her to be assessed by a paediatric registrar.
‘Despite that, had that been done they say the assessment would have been the same and the same sequence of events would have occurred.’
A health board spokesman said: ‘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.’