Teenage boy settles case for delay in hearing loss diagnosis 

Our client brought a claim against the Defendant Trust for delay in diagnosing his hearing loss following his admission to hospital when he was 15 months old. He had been unwell, with a fever and vomiting, possible neck stiffness and general irritability. He was treated with antibiotics and acyclovir for suspected herpes simplex viral encephalitis. He was discharged 10 days later but it was not until almost 2½ years after that that he was diagnosed as being deaf in his right ear and partially deaf in his left ear.

Reports were obtained from a clinical virologist, a consultant audiological physician, an educational psychology expert, a speech and language therapist and a paediatric neurologist. A Letter of Claim was sent to the Defendant in March 2012 and a Letter of Response was received in July 2012. The Defendant admitted breach of duty in that there was a delay in diagnosing deafness, however the Claimant was put to strict proof as to what earlier diagnosis might have made to his outcome. The Defendant made a Part 36 offer to settle the claim in the sum of £3,000, which was rejected.

The case was complicated by our client being diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and autism and it was not clear whether his developmental and behavioural difficulties were attributable to the delay in diagnosing his hearing loss, given his other diagnoses. This is because it was hard to disentangle the effects of delay in diagnosing hearing loss from his other problems, including the fact that he would have had hearing loss in any event. Quantification of the claim was complex and negotiations took place, leading to an approval hearing in March 2022. The case settled for £40,000. Amie Ketteridge-Lowe and Dr Mala Sidebottom were instructed in this case.  Nigel Spencer-Ley was Counsel advising in this matter.

I was pleased to bring this matter to a close after all the years of uncertainty for my client. The settlement will allow him and his family to move forward with their lives, particularly given the difficult start to my client’s life.

Dr Mala Sidebottom

We would just like to say how brilliant you all were and how you all made it stress free for us as we had had our son’s interests and wellbeing to deal with as well, plus we didn’t have a clue where to start.”

Clients’ parents

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