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Recent Missed Diagnosis of Strep B Claims

The Clinical Negligence Team have recovered very substantial sums of compensation for clients in a number of medical negligence claims. Here are a selection of our most recent successful cases:

Exciting new weapon in the fight against Group B Strep

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Group B Streptococcal (GBS) bacteria is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies and is passed on to babies by their mothers. GBS can result in still birth, preterm birth, sepsis and meningitis. In order to combat this infection, it is fundamental that the body’s response to invasion by the bacteria is properly understood. In understanding how the bacteria can thrive, we can also understand how it can be destroyed.

Earlier this year, Dr Kothary and his team based in Nashville, USA published the results of their study which involved infecting pregnant mice with GBS to see how the mice responded to the infection. I have just been reading the results of their experiment which reveal a potential new strategy to fight GBS infection in mothers and babies.

How does the body respond to Group B Strep Infection?

Many pregnant women carry GBS bacteria on the surface of their vaginas without it causing any problems at all. However, some babies can become infected by GBS when the bacteria travel up the vagina into the womb where it can reach the baby or by coming into contact with the bacteria during vaginal birth.

When the GBS bacteria travel up the vagina during pregnancy, the bacteria may thrive and multiply rapidly and the membranes surrounding the baby may become infected. In response to infection, the body mobilizes its immune system with its army of miniature weapons to fight the bacteria. One of the first weapons on the scene are neutrophils which work by ingesting and killing the bacteria.

The study

The study involved first infecting pregnant mice with GBS bacteria and then examining how the mice dealt with it. In response to the GBS bacteria, the mice’s immune system kicked into action and sent neutrophils to the site of the infection to fight the invading bacteria as expected.

Although the role of neutrophils in fighting infection has been well documented for many years, this study has revealed more about the role of neutrophils and other weapons of the immune system in combating GBS bacteria.

The experiment showed that once at the site of infection, the neutrophils formed more complex traps which then contain other proteins that fight infection. The traps are akin to an armoured tank studded with weapons.

The GBS bacteria require iron in order to function and rather intriguingly, the study reveals how one of the weapons on the neutrophil tank is a protein that gobbles up iron to stop it being used by the bacteria. The protein is called Lactoferrin and the GBS bacteria are essentially being starved to death through lack of iron!

A potential new treatment for Group B Strep

This research is vital in a world where the usefulness of antibiotics is decreasing and a better understanding of these iron gobbling weapons within the human immune system could lead to novel new treatments for GBS.

As a lawyer working with families affected by GBS in young babies, this research is an encouraging step forward in the war against Group B Strep. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss anything in relation to this blog.

£9,300,000 compensation – failing to treat GBS infection in newborn baby

Kerstin Kubiak acted for a young boy recently in his claim for compensation claim for the brain injury he suffered as a result of medical negligence during and shortly after his birth. It was alleged that the Defendant (who was the NHS Trust responsible for the hospital in which he was born) failed to give antibiotics to our client following his birth in light of his mother having a high temperature during labour and having previously tested positive for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection, which was then passed on to our client during labour. As a result of this failing our client developed GBS meningitis and suffered a severe brain injury in his first week of life.  Had our client received antibiotics following his birth this would have prevented GBS meningitis and the brain injury he suffered.

Our client now has severe cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs, epilepsy, cognitive impairment and behavioural difficulties. He is and will remain dependent on others for the majority of daily living activities. He will be unable to obtain remunerative employment in adulthood and will also likely lack capacity to manage his own financial affairs in adulthood.

The Defendant admitted negligence in failing to give our client antibiotics following his birth and a settlement was agreed without a Court hearing, for a capitalised sum of compensation of £9.3 million. This included:

  • A lump sum of £3,250,000; and
  • Periodical payments for care of £86,000 per year to age 12, £120,000 per year from age 12 to age 19, and £208,000 per year from age 19 and for the rest of his life. These payments are index linked to keep pace with the costs of care year on year.

£150,000 awarded for failure to diagnose GBS during pregnancy

Simon Elliman, Solicitor and Head of the Clinical Negligence Team, recovered £150,000 for the mother of a child who contracted GBS during pregnancy, which was not diagnosed. The infection developed into meningitis which caused significant brain damage to the child. She was unable to sit by herself and had no useful movement in her left arm. She also suffered with epilepsy.

The hospital admitted that it was negligent in failing to act on test results taken shortly before the child was born when antibiotics would have been able to stop the GBS infection from spreading and therefore she would have avoided brain damage.

Sadly the child died during an epileptic seizure when she was 3 years old. The damages in this claim were to compensate for the pain and suffering endured by the child during her short life and for the mother’s bereavement and the care she provided to her child.

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