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Mother receives six-figure settlement after suffering brain damage as a result of undiagnosed latent tuberculosis

A mother who suffered brain damage a year after giving birth to her first child has settled a medical negligence claim bought against Whittington Hospital for alleged failure to test for latent tuberculosis (TB).

Posted on 14 May 2024

The woman, who we have called Safia, was born in Somalia, and came to England as a refugee because of the long-running civil war.  

In the spring of 2011, Safia became pregnant and was referred to Whittington Hospital for obstetric care. NICE guidance recommends testing 18–35-year-olds from sub-Saharan Africa for latent TB, this is when the bacteria lives in the body without symptoms but can “wake up” in the future making a person ill.  

Approximately 5-10% of patients with latent TB will go on to develop active disease and the likelihood is higher in pregnancy. Active TB in pregnancy carries risks for both mother and baby.  

At Safia’s first antenatal review, the midwife incorrectly recorded that she was not from a high prevalence area.  

Safia gave birth to a healthy daughter in December 2011. In January 2012, Safia went on to develop active TB meningitis. She was treated, but in the spring of 2012, she went on to develop TB vasculitis resulting in brain damage.  

Safia instructed Leigh Day medical negligence solicitor Olive Lewin to bring a claim against the hospital.  

The legal case centred on whether all reasonable and responsible obstetricians and/or midwives would have arranged for testing for latent TB, as recommended by the NICE Guidance.  

Leigh Day argued that, had Safia been diagnosed with latent TB, she would have received the appropriate treatment and would not have suffered brain damage.  

A settlement was reached for a six-figure sum. Whittington Health NHS trust did not admit liability. 

Olive Lewin said: 

“This was a hard-fought case, but the settlement will enable Safia to have a decent quality of life.” 

Olive Lewin (1)
Amputation Birth injury Brain injury Cerebral palsy Misdiagnosis Spinal injury Surgical negligence

Olive Lewin

Olive is an experienced healthcare lawyer who has specialised in the field for more than 25 years, having previously trained as a nurse

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