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Boy Victim of Misplaced Tracheostomy Tube Receives Millions in Damages

When treating newborn babies, medical staff are aware that even the simplest error may have grave consequences for the rest of their intensely vulnerable patients' lives. As one case showed, however, personal injury lawyers always stand ready to pick up the pieces in the event of such a mistake.

The case concerned a 10-year-old boy who was fitted with a tracheostomy tube after breathing in meconium during his difficult delivery. Tragically, however, the tube was misplaced into his oesophagus rather than his trachea. By the time the error was noticed, he had suffered profound hypoxia and brain damage.

Afflicted by quadriplegic cerebral palsy, he is nevertheless a happy child who is extraordinarily well cared for by his parents. Unable to walk without a frame, he is likely to become more wheelchair dependent as he grows older. His manual dexterity is impaired; he has learning difficulties and he struggles to make himself understood. He will never have the capacity to manage his own affairs and his agreed life expectancy is about 67.

After proceedings were launched on his behalf, the NHS trust responsible for his care admitted liability for his injuries and agreed to a settlement of his claim, whereby he would receive a lump sum of £8.4 million. He will additionally receive annual, index-linked payments to cover the costs of his care for life. Those payments will start at £125,000 a year and rise to £254,000 a year when he reaches the age of 19.

In approving the settlement, the High Court noted that, despite the seriousness of his disabilities, the boy has a good sense of humour and a ready laugh. Thanks to the care lavished upon him by his tireless parents, he has enormous charm and considerable potential. The settlement will give his parents confidence that, throughout his life, funds will always be available to meet his needs.

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