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Settlement of Claim for the Delayed Diagnosis of an Infection

A multi-million pounds care package, negotiated in settlement of a claim for the delayed diagnosis of an infection, has been approved at the High Court.

On 16th December 2008, Martha Richardson-Rudd was born at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford with a Group B strep infection – a potentially serious disease in new born children even when it is identified at an early stage.

Unfortunately, Martha´s infection was not diagnosed until the following day, as a result of which she developed meningitis, cerebral palsy and severe brain damage. Her condition was so severe that Martha was put into an induced coma and spent the first two months of her life in a hospital incubator.

An investigation into how Martha´s infection had been overlooked for so long concluded that it had developed during pregnancy and could have been prevented altogether had Martha´s mother – Helen – had been given a Group B strep screening during her third trimester and prescribed antibiotics.

Helen and her husband – Adam – sought legal advice and made a claim for the delayed diagnosis of an infection against the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, alleging that if Martha´s condition had been identified and treated in a timely manner she would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

The NHS Trust admitted liability in 2010, and negotiations started to settle the claim for the delayed diagnosis of an infection. At the High Court last week, judges heard how Martha is now a life-limited child who will need full-time care for the rest of her life. The judges also heard that the settlement package includes care, aids and equipment, suitable accommodation and therapy.

At the hearing a statement was also read to the family by a spokesperson for the NHS Trust. He said: “Royal Surrey County Hospital apologises unreservedly for delays in the diagnosis and treatment of Martha Richardson-Rudd following her birth in December 2008. “We hope that the compensation agreed at the High Court will go some way to assisting Martha’s family secure her future needs.”

Speaking after the settlement had been approved, Helen told her local newspaper that now the claim for the late diagnosis of an infection had been resolved, the family no longer have to worry about how they will be able to support Martha´s needs, can purchase suitable accommodation and put a full care package in place. “However”, Helen added “we will continue to worry about her every day that she lives and we cry for the person she will never be.”