Baby boy dies of sepsis caused by chicken pox after doctors thought purple foot was caused by tight nappy

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Layton Boys-Hope hope died after contracted sepsis caused by chicken pox (Caters)

A devastated couple watched their baby boy die from sepsis caused by chicken pox after doctors failed to spot the deadly infection.

Layton Boys-Hope, was just 12 months old when he died from sepsis after doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital failed to spot the warning signs.

His purple foot – a symptom of sepsis – was dismissed as being caused by a ‘tight nappy’ and he wasn’t given any antibiotics for eight hours despite blood tests revealing an infection was present, the family claim.

Parents Nichol Boys and Dave Hope, both 38, from Sunderland, watched helplessly as their youngest son’s health declined before his his heart stopped in February 2015.

Layton’s parents have now agreed a damages settlement with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust following their legal case – despite denying liability for his death.

The Trust admitted earlier treatment with antibiotics could have saved their boy’s life and that it had breached its duty of care by failing to carry out observations for six hours.

The baby’s purple foot – a symptom of sepsis – was dismissed as being caused by a ‘tight nappy’ (Caters)

Dave, an optical lab technician, said: ‘All of us are total shadows of our former selves after losing Layton and it makes it even harder to accept or understand when you know he was let down.

‘The hospital failed to carry out observations and there were delays in giving him antibiotics which we have been told since would have saved him.

‘Whatever we do and wherever we go, we’ll always be thinking ‘what if?’ If things had been different, Layton would still be here and that’s the hardest part of it all.’

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He added: ‘No parent should have to go through that and deal with that. We thought he was in the best place but, in my eyes, they didn’t do everything they should have done. We can’t ever accept that.’

Layton was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital by his worried parents Dave and Nichol after he became breathless and was feverish on 8 February 2015.

His parents claim he had been making a good recovery from a bout of chicken pox when he suddenly became ill at home. He was rushed to hospital by his parents and admitted with a high temperature and his left foot purple in colour.

Layton was just 12 months old when he died (Caters)

Mum-of-six Nichol, said: ‘Layton was first reviewed by a doctor at 3.45pm, at which time an enlargement of his liver was recorded and the possibility of a bacterial infection noted.

‘However, despite this, no further observations were then made to assess Layton’s condition over the following six hours.

‘The doctors had noted the discolouration in Layton’s foot but were not in agreement over its cause. It was dismissed as having been caused by either his nappy being too tight or having slept on his leg.’

The parents claim Layton was given Calpol to reduce his temperature while investigations were carried out, but blood tests were not assessed until three and a half hours after his admission, when a low white blood cell count was discovered.

Hudgell Solicitors, who led a legal case against the hospital Trust on behalf of Layton’s parents, said these results should have triggered an immediate decision to administer antibiotics to help fight infection.

Layton was admitted to a ward at 9pm and given antibiotics at 11.25pm – more than eight hours after he was first seen.

However, at this point his oxygen levels dropped and his heartbeat had almost come to a stop. He was transferred to theatre but died after 30 minutes of CPR proved unable to save him.

Layton’s cause of death was recorded as overwhelming sepsis [Group A Streptococcus Pyogenes] caused by chicken pox.

The family have been left heartbroken by the loss of their son but are determined to ensure it doesn’t happen to other children.

Dave said: ‘We will never forget him and when his baby brothers are old enough, we will tell them all about him. We don’t want others to suffer the same as us.’