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Life-long care guaranteed after childhood cardiac arrest in intensive care unit results in severe brain injury

A settlement has been secured for a child who will require life-long care due to a brain injury resulting from a cardiac arrest in an intensive care unit

Posted on 31 March 2021

A young man, whom we have called Joseph to protect his identity, has secured a financial settlement to help provide lifelong care after he suffered a cardiac arrest as a child in an intensive care unit.

Joseph was born with an unusual condition which required surgery and a lengthy stay in hospital. The surgery was carried out successfully and Joseph was kept on the paediatric intensive care unit while he recovered. His recovery was complicated – he required a tracheostomy and long-term ventilation – but he made steady progress.

As Joseph was nearing the time for his discharge and was being weaned off ventilation, he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest, most likely due to his tracheostomy tube becoming blocked, preventing him from being able to breathe.

There was no nurse with Joseph when the incident happened, despite his being on an intensive one-to-one care plan which meant he was not supposed to be left alone.

It is estimated that it was 25 minutes later before he was found by another nurse, by which time he was no longer breathing and was lying outstretched across his bed. He had suffered severe neurological damage.

After further tests and investigations, it was confirmed that Joseph had tetraplegic cerebral palsy, with severe developmental delay and sensory impairment. He was unable to walk, stand or sit unaided. He had no useful speech and was also doubly incontinent and would remain completely dependent on others for the rest of his life.

Joseph’s mother sought legal advice and assistance from the specialist clinical negligence team at Leigh Day and was represented by Sarah Campbell and Michael Roberts. After a preliminary investigation, the hospital admitted liability and a settlement was reached.

Despite his profound disabilities, and because of the dedicated input from his mother, Joseph is very much able to derive pleasure from his life and responds happily to various stimuli. He has a particular fondness for animals and greatly enjoys being around his pets. The compensation secured will allow him to receive not only the care and treatment he needs, but will also enable him to live as fulfilling and enjoyable a life as possible.

Sarah Campbell, a partner in Leigh Day’s clinical negligence department, said:

“It has been a real privilege to work on Joseph’s case; he was injured partly because he had been on the ward for so long that he had almost become part of the furniture with the result that his one-to-one nurse, distracted by the arrival of a new patient onto the unit, took their eye off the ball at a critical moment. It can be a dangerous time, when long-term patients start to make a good recovery and are no longer the centre of the careful and dedicated attention they would usually get and, of course, still need and deserve.”

Sarah and Michael worked with Christopher Johnston QC of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers to secure this settlement.


Michael Roberts
Amputation Birth injury Brain injury Cerebral palsy Inquests Spinal injury

Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts is a senior associate solicitor in the medical negligence department.

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