Hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments work under intense pressure but, if negligent mistakes are made, it is only right that compensation is paid. In a case on point, a boy who was sent home from a hospital despite suffering from a rare brain infection secured a seven-figure compensation payout from the NHS.
The boy was a few months old when he contracted encephalitis, a condition that starts with flu-like symptoms but is life-threatening if not treated swiftly. His parents took him to their local A&E department, but he was sent home. His illness was not diagnosed until the following day when he was admitted to the hospital. He suffered serious brain injuries and has been left facing a lifetime of disability.
Solicitors acting on the boy's behalf sued the NHS trust that managed the hospital. It was admitted that the hospital staff had breached the duty of care they owed him by sending him home on the first occasion. However, the trust disputed liability to pay damages, claiming that the mistake had made no difference to the tragic outcome.
Despite that difficulty, however, the case was settled for £5.25 million. In approving the lump-sum payment, the High Court noted that, although it did not represent the full potential value of the boy's claim, it was enough to make a very real difference for the rest of his life.