Boy Suffers Brain Damage due to Failure to Treat Jaundice

The family of a boy, who suffered brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice, is launching legal action against the hospital in which he was born.

On April 15th 2013, Laura-Faye Gold from Honiton in Devon gave birth to a son – Khan – at the Exeter Hospital. Khan was a perfectly healthy baby although, not uncommonly, he was born suffering from jaundice.

Khan and his mother were allowed home the following day and during the next four days three different midwives visited the family home in Honiton, Devon to check on baby Khan´s progress. Laura-Faye raised concerns about her son´s jaundice, but on each occasion was told it was nothing to worry about.

However, on April 20th 2013, Laura-Faye had problems feeding Khan and noticed that her son was arching his back as if in pain. She called her local hospital, which took a blood sample and advised Khan´s parents to take him back to Exeter Hospital to have the sample analysed.

Khan was diagnosed with kernicterus – a condition caused by the underdeveloped liver failing to remove bilirubin from the bloodstream – and transferred to intensive care. Khan was given an immediate blood transfusion, but the bilirubin that his liver had failed to remove from his blood stream had entered his brain and he suffered brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice.

Due to the failure to identify Khan´s illness when Laura-Faye first raised concerns about his jaundice, Khan´s brain damage is likely to be permanent and doctors are uncertain whether he will ever be able to walk.

As he is going to need support and care throughout the rest of his life, his parents have made a compensation claim for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, on the grounds that the only advice they were given by midwives prior to Khan´s admission to hospital was to expose him to the sun.

In their claim for compensation for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice, Khan´s parents allege that midwives failed to follow NHS guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice. They also believe that the visiting midwives should have escalated the situation in a timely way to the family´s GP or Exeter Hospital´s paediatrician.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – Angela Pedder – has written to the family apologising for the failures which led to Khan suffering brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice. Since Khan´s tragic condition was identified, key changes have been made at the hospital which include that all babies born with jaundice are now tested for kernicterus.

Solicitors representing the Gold family have also suggested that there were training issues at the hospital which need to be addressed, and have entered into negotiations with the NHS Trust to resolve the family´s claim for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice. The final settlement is estimated to be in seven figures.