Advising with empathy and experience

Five-Figure Damages for Family of Medical Negligence Victim

The family of a four-year-old boy who died as a result of hospital failures has won a five-figure sum in damages.

Matthew Kenway had gone into Southampton General Hospital in December 2010 for a routine kidney operation. He suffered from a type of muscular dystrophy, congenital fibre-type disproportion, a condition characterised by muscle weakness and wasting. Sufferers often experience respiratory problems and Matthew needed the support of a ventilator to help him breathe. After the operation, he was transferred to a high dependency unit.

In the early hours of the morning, Matthew’s heart stopped, but there was a delay in summoning the cardiac arrest team because the nurse initially thought that the oxygen monitor probe was faulty. When the team did arrive, their attempts to restart his heart proved unsuccessful and Matthew died.

When the cause of death was investigated, it was discovered that staff on duty in the high dependency unit had not realised that Matthew’s heart had stopped because he was on a ventilator that was helping him breathe. Had there been a heart monitor to record his heartbeat, it would have been clear to them, but this was not standard practice at the time.

The investigation also found that a stent used to bypass a blockage in Matthew’s kidney had been inserted in the wrong place.

Matthew’s parents brought a claim against University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which has now agreed the five-figure compensation settlement.

As a result of the investigation into the poor quality care received by Matthew, use of a heart monitor is now standard procedure for patients being cared for in the hospital’s high dependency unit following surgery.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.