A couple have watched their baby die from chicken pox after doctors failed to spot the deadly infection.
Layton Boys-Hope was just 12 months old when he died from sepsis caused by chicken pox after doctors at Sunderland Royal Hospital in England’s northwest 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 and on February 9, 2015, his heart stopped.
Now, three years later, with the help of clinical negligence lawyers, Hudgell Solicitors, Layton’s parents have 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.
“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,” Mr Hope said.
“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.
“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 after he became breathless and was feverish on February 8, 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.
“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,” his mother recalled.
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.
And that Layton was only 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.
Death was ‘inexcusable,’ lawyers say
As part of legal action against the Trust through medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors, it was alleged – with independent medical expert backing – that had antibiotics been given at any time before 6.45pm [up to three and a half hours after admission], Layton would have survived.
Layton’s cause of death was recorded as overwhelming sepsis [Group A Streptococcus Pyogenes] caused by chicken pox.
Solicitor Tasmin White, of Hudgell Solicitors, “This is a tragic case, and it is particularly upsetting and distressing as from a parenting point of view, Dave and Nichol did everything they could. They took him to hospital as soon as they felt his condition was worsening and worrying.
“For the hospital to then approach his care with such a lack of urgency and detail, failing to carry out observations for six hours and not taking more decisive action, was inexcusable.
The family have been left heartbroken by the loss of their son but are determined to ensure it doesn’t happen to other children.
“The doctors told us they were trying everything possible to save him and from that moment our world started falling apart,” Mr Hope said.
“When we go to the cemetery, the kids kiss his picture and we spend hours there. 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.”