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Child receives settlement following a delayed diagnosis of spinal infection

A one-year-old child was left in unnecessary pain after her GP failed to refer her to hospital where she was eventually diagnosed with an infection of her spine.

Posted on 11 December 2023

The child, who we have called Abigail, developed a raised temperature and tilt to her neck. Her parents took her to the emergency department at their local hospital where they were told she was suffering from torticollis possibly caused by a muscle strain. They were advised that that if the problem had not resolved in 72 hours that they should go to their GP to be referred back to hospital.

Abigail’s symptoms did not improve so her parents took her to the GP but she was not referred to the hospital. In the following weeks Abigail was taken to her GP surgery on multiple occasions with worsening symptoms but was still not referred.

After persistent requests from her parents a referral was eventually made, and Abigail was referred to hospital where an urgent MRI scan was carried out nearly a month after her first appointment with her GP.

The MRI identified an abscess close to her windpipe and she was later diagnosed with osteomyelitis and discitis, an infection of the spinal column and discs. Abigail was admitted to hospital where the infections were treated with intravenous antibiotics.

Antibiotics were initially administered to Abigail through a cannula, a small tube inserted into a vein, which had to be changed every other day. Abigail then had to have a Hickman Line inserted into a vein in the chest, which had to be changed every week. Abigail found the procedures extremely distressing and suffered a seizure during one change requiring the crash team to be called.

The infection thankfully cleared however, one of Abigail’s spinal discs was damaged and she developed anxiety due to the experience.

Abigail secured a settlement and an apology from the GP who admitted failing to refer her when required to. Abigail’s father instructed Leigh Day Clinical Negligence Solicitor, Nandi Jordan who represented Abigail to obtain the financial settlement.

Leigh Day worked with Sophie Beesley of Old Square Chambers to successfully conclude this matter.

Nandi Jordan said:

"Unfortunately, it was only through the persistence of her parents pushing the GP for a referral that Abigail’s condition was identified and treatment was given. I was very pleased to be able to obtain compensation for Abigail for the suffering that she was caused due to the negligent delay."

Nandi Jordan
Birth injury Cerebral palsy Spinal injury Surgical negligence

Nandi Jordan

Nandi Jordan is a partner in the medical negligence department.

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