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How a delay in treatment led to tragedy

Through a delay in medical treatment for Group B Strep, baby Bobby contracted dyskinetic cerebral palsy

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After contracting the Group B Strep infection, but not receiving medical attention soon enough, baby Bobby developed dyskinetic cerebral palsy and went on to experience a host of other complications during his short life. Tragically, he passed away aged only eight. 

Here, we find out more about Bobby’s story, the signs of the infection, and how experts at Slater and Gordon are helping to support Bobby’s parents and other families who are impacted by such devastation

 

Bobby was born prematurely, remaining in hospital with his mum for three days so that his blood glucose levels could be monitored. Over their first few days at home, Bobby’s mother was visited by midwives and healthcare workers to check on Bobby’s progress, to ensure that he was feeding and putting on weight.

Bobby’s mother kept a diary to note the length and frequency of his feeds, and 13 days after he was born recorded that he had not fed for about ten hours. She called her local birth centre and told them about Bobby’s disinterest in food, and that he was grizzly, cold and lethargic. 

Despite his symptoms, the birth centre didn’t ask Bobby’s mother to take him into the centre for a check up immediately, but told her to arrange an appointment for the following day.

The following day, Bobby still hadn’t fed. Concerned, his mother immediately took him to the local birth centre where he was noted to be cold and grunting. An ambulance was called, and Bobby was taken to the Emergency Department where he was started on IV antibiotics.

A lumbar puncture was performed, and it was later confirmed Bobby had meningitis caused by Group B Strep (GBS) infection. As a result of his meningitis, Bobby went on to develop severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Along with cerebral palsy, Bobby also had to live with visual impairment, infantile spasms, reflux, feeding difficulties, slow growth and obstructive sleep apnoea. 

Tragically, Bobby passed away when he was just eight years old as a result of complications associated with the severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

What were the signs and symptoms of Group B Strep?

Bobby had symptoms of GBS infection and typical early signs include the following:

  • Grunting, noisy breathing, moaning, seems to be working hard to breathe when you look at the chest or tummy, or not breathing at all
  • Being very sleepy or unresponsive
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Being unusually floppy
  • Not feeding well or not keeping milk down
  • A high or low temperature, and being hot or cold to the touch
  • Changes in skin colour (including blotchy skin)
  • An abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate
  • Low blood pressure (identified by hospital tests)
  • Low blood sugar (identified by hospital tests).

Early identification of the signs and symptoms of these infections are essential for early diagnosis and treatment. Most early-onset GBS infections can be prevented.

Group B Strep Support is carrying out vital work to raise on the need for more widespread screening of GBS and the warning signs which medical staff should consider if there is a history of Group B strep.

Support from Slater and Gordon

To help Bobby’s family with their claim, the law firm’s expert team of medical negligence solicitors gained expert opinion from various medical specialists, in different medical fields including midwifery, neonatology and microbiology.

This helps to establish what treatments and processes should have been undertaken, and what may have happened to Bobby if he had been provided with the care and treatment that he needed. 

When Bobby’s mother phoned the birth centre initially, she should have been told to bring him in immediately. Had this advice been given then, on balance, an ambulance would have been called and he would have been taken straight to hospital.

Bobby had a GBS infection and this would have been diagnosed within several hours after admission and primarily by lumbar puncture.

Whilst tests were underway (lumbar puncture, bloods, etc.) an infection would have been the working diagnosis and Booby would have been started on broad spectrum IV antibiotics which would have started treating the GBS infection immediately.

These IV antibiotics would have been administered over 12 hours sooner, had Bobby’s mother been given the correct advice.

It is then likely that Bobby would not have gone onto develop severe tetraplegic dyskinetic cerebral palsy, because the bacteria would not have – by this point – breached the blood-brain barrier. Had the bacteria breached this barrier, it would not have had the opportunity to cause the extensive brain injury it did due to the antibiotic treatment.

For families impacted by GBS, where there are concerns over the quality or speed of medical care or treatment, Slater and Gordon has a team of experts able to give support, including solicitors with a special interest in GBS cases. Principal lawyer Laura Preston has worked on several GBS cases and sits on the GBSS legal expert panel.

Contact Slater and Gordon on 0330 041 5869 or online.

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