Case study: £6 million for man who suffered hearing loss after a delayed meningitis diagnosis

  • Posted

Our medical negligence solicitors helped a young man claim compensation after he suffered hearing loss as the result of a delay in diagnosing meningitis when he was a baby.

Multiple visits to hospital with meningitis symptoms

Our client, Thomas, was born fit and well and passed his routine neonatal hearing test. There were no concerns about his early development.

When Thomas was 11 months old, he became unwell with flu-like symptoms and his mother noticed that he seemed sleepy and his eyes were rolling. He also became floppy and had a rash. Thomas’ mother suspected he had meningitis, so took him to A&E, at which point it was noted that he had spots and a fever. Thomas was diagnosed with Chicken Pox, prescribed anti-pyretic medication and sent home.

Unfortunately, Thomas’ condition only worsened; he was sleepy, reluctant to feed and did not want to be touched. He was also vomiting and his rash had spread. Thomas’ parents took him back to hospital where he was diagnosed with Chicken Pox again and discharged home.

Thomas’ condition worsened further; his fluid intake had decreased significantly and his nappy remained dry. His parents returned to hospital a third time and he was discharged with the same diagnosis.

Unfortunately, Thomas continued to deteriorate so his mother contacted NHS Direct who sent an emergency ambulance. Paramedics found Thomas to be bradycardic (slow heartbeat) and, after arriving at the hospital, he continued to decline.

Thomas was subsequently diagnosed with a Group B Meningococcus Infection (also known as Meningitis B). CT scans of his brain showed abnormal surface collections over both cerebral hemispheres. Medics also performed visual reinforcement audiometry tests, but Thomas did not respond to low-frequency sounds.

Future prognosis

Thomas was discharged home a few days later and further investigations into his hearing were undertaken as an outpatient.

Thomas had developed bilateral severe hearing loss as a consequence of the meningitis, together with vestibular damage. He subsequently had cochlear implants fitted.  He suffered a delay in his language and academic development and has learning difficulties similar to dyslexia. He also had balance difficulties caused by the vestibular damage and behavioural problems when he was younger.

Claiming for the delay in diagnosis

Thomas’ parents instructed our medical negligence lawyers a month after receiving his diagnosis. We obtained his medical records and reports from medical experts, including an A&E Consultant, a Paediatrician, a Specialist in Infectious Diseases, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and a Speech and Language Therapist. The Defendant hospital admitted their failure to refer Thomas to the paediatric unit on his third visit to the hospital.

After court proceedings were issued, the Defendant admitted that Thomas developed meningitis as the result of failing to refer him to the paediatric unit and that his hearing loss could have been avoided.

Experts were unable to assess Thomas’ future educational attainment, prospects and capabilities due to his young age, and the claim was paused until he turned 15.

Once proceedings resumed, the Defendant accepted responsibility for the fact that the meningitis would have been the underlying cause for any of Thomas’ neurological or psychological injuries.


After further consultations and negotiations, the delayed diagnosis claim was settled out of court for a lump sum payment and annualised payments for life. The capitalised value of the total claim was in the region of £6,000,000.

The settlement included compensation to assist Thomas in purchasing suitable accommodation; cochlear implants throughout his life; aids and equipment to optimise his safety; and support in the workplace and at home to help him achieve some level of independence.

Although this compensation cannot make up for what happened to Thomas, it can help him access the support he and his family will inevitably need in future.

Further information

Meningitis is a serious disease and if treatment is not given quickly, has the potential to cause life-long health consequences, including brain damage and hearing loss.

If you or a loved one have suffered as the result of a delay in diagnosing meningitis or if it has been misdiagnosed, our medical negligence solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation.

Call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our enquiry form.


    How can we help you?

    We’re here to help. Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Or call us on 0117 325 2929.