A claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia was resolved yesterday at the High Court with claimant securing a lifetime care settlement.
Ben Harman was born at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in April 2002, underweight and floppy due to extremely low blood sugar levels. Despite displaying the symptoms of low blood sugar levels, staff at the hospital failed to perform the blood glucose tests that should have been conducted under NHS protocol until two days after his birth, allowing Ben´s condition to deteriorate further.
Ben was administered dextrose once his condition had been identified but, when he was discharged on 17th April 2002, his parents were not told that he had potentially suffered a hypoglycaemic injury or what its consequences were. Consequently, when Ben failed to develop as quickly as his older brother had, his parents were concerned but attributed his disabilities to one of life´s cruelties.
After Ben was diagnosed with autism in 2006, his parents applied for a blue handicapped badge for their car. It was only when they were asked to support the application with medical evidence that they became aware of the medical negligence that had caused their son´s brain damage. They sought legal advice and made a claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia on behalf of their son.
The East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust initially denied its liability for Ben´s devastating injuries, and continued to do so until July 2013. Thereafter, the NHS Trust would not agree to any settlement package proposed by the family´s solicitors – suggesting instead that Ben would better served by a life in institutional care. Consequently the claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia went to the High Court to be resolved.
At the High Court, Mr Justice Turner rejected the argument that Ben should spend the rest of his life in institutional care and ordered the NHS Trust to pay for Ben´s fees at a specialist boarding school – Prior’s Court in Hermitage, Berkshire. His parents will take over responsibility for his care when Ben is twenty-five years of age.
The final settlement of the family´s claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia will be announced shortly. It will consist of a lump sum payment so that Ben´s parents can adopt their home in order to make it suitable for when Ben visits at weekends, and annual index-linked payments so that Ben is assured of the care that he needs for the rest of his life.