Family Claims Compensation for a Kernicterus Birth Injury due to a Failure to Treat Newborn Jaundice

A family from Devon is claiming compensation for a kernicterus birth injury which left their son brain damaged and needing life-long care.

Khan Gold from Honiton in Devon was born at the Exeter Hospital on April 15th 2013 – a perfectly healthy child although, not uncommonly, suffering from jaundice. He was allowed home with his mother Laura-Faye the following day, and was visited by three different midwives over the next four days who assured Laura-Faye that Khan´s continuing jaundice was nothing to worry about.

However, on April 20th, Laura-Faye noticed that her son was arching his back as if in pain. She was advised to bring him into the hospital, where Khan was diagnosed with kernicterus and transferred to intensive care. Khan was given an immediate blood transfusion, but the bilirubin that Khan´s underdeveloped liver had failed to remove from his blood stream had entered his brain and he is now permanently brain damaged.

Khan is likely to be severely disabled and need care for the rest of his life. Doctors are uncertain whether the little boy will ever be able to walk or talk and – after taking legal advice – the family made a claim for compensation for a kernicterus birth injury against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust on the grounds that the only advice they were given by midwives prior to Khan´s admission to hospital was to expose him to the sun.

In their claim for compensation for a kernicterus birth injury, Khan´s parents allege that midwives failed to follow NHS guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice and should have escalated the situation in a timely way to the family´s GP or the hospital paediatrician. Solicitors representing the Gold family have also suggested that there were training issues at the hospital which need to be addressed.

Angela Pedder – the Chief Executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – has written to the family apologising for the failures which led to Khan developing kernicterus. Since Khan was diagnosed with the illness, key changes have been made at the Exeter Hospital which include that all babies born with jaundice should be tested for kernicterus.

Negotiations are ongoing in respect of the family´s claim for compensation for a kernicterus birth injury, with the final settlement expected to be in seven figures.

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