Introduction

In or around October 2003 the mother (M) of the claimant (C) fell pregnant with C. M was unaware that she had been infected with HIV. The mother was not advised about the importance of having the various antenatal blood tests nor did they advise /counsel her about the need for various tests in particular the HIV test. C's mother gave blood for the various tests but because she was not advised about the HIV test she did not give her consent and therefore it was not done. She had routine shared antenatal care at her GPs practice and the defendant NHS Trust throughout the pregnancy but the failure to carry out an HIV test this was not picked up throughout the antenatal care either by the hospital or the practice. Thus the fact that she had HIV was not detected C was born on July 10, 2004. She had been infected by a vertical transmission of the HIV virus, which was wholly preventable with antenatal diagnosis. However, her condition was not diagnosed until August 2005 when C had suffered from numerous bouts of unexplained illness.

C sustained injury and brought an action against D alleging that it was negligent in failing to ensure that an antenatal HIV test was carried out. Liability was admitted and Judgment was entered on the 12th February 2010.

Injuries

C was infected with the HIV virus.

Effects

As a result of the late diagnosis of HIV, C was delayed in obtaining treatment. The infection marred her early years considerably because she suffered with autoimmune anaemia, hepatitis and thrombocytopenia. As a consequence C had to be supervised constantly in case she knocked herself out, which could have led to a haemorrhage.

In the early years of her life C had a number of inpatient admissions for blood transfusions. Her blood platelets had to be checked regularly by the hospital and she had to be admitted if they became dangerously low. On average she attended the hospital once a month for blood tests.

C had to take medication on a daily basis in order to prevent autoimmune disease and the complications of HIV infection occurring. While she was suffering from autoimmune thrombocytopenia she had to wear a helmet and be supervised to prevent injury and the risk of uncontrollable bleeding. As a result of the increased need for supervision, a case manager was appointed as well as a support worker who provided one-to-one care for C when she returned from school.

Prognosis

C would continue to need to attend a hospital at least 12 times a year for blood tests probably for the rest of her life. Her autoimmune disease was improving but there was a risk of relapse. She would continue to suffer the associated complications of the HIV infection and long-term medication. As a result of the infection C's life expectancy was reduced to 35 years.

Settlement

Court Award £550,000 total damages

Background to damages: Settlement was made on a once and for all basis. It reflected the fact that C's autoimmune disease would disappear but that there would always be a risk that she would suffer a recurrence of hepatitis, anaemia or thrombocytopenia. The settlement included an allowance for end of life.

Breakdown of General Damages:
Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £100,000;
Future care costs: £224,000;
Future case management costs: £11,700;
Future aids and appliances costs: £16,000;
Future miscellaneous expenses: £13,500;
Future travel costs: £30,000;
Future counselling costs: £6,000;
Future music therapy costs: £2,100;
Future education costs: £4,300;
Future loss of earnings: £10,000.

Breakdown of Special Damages:
Past gratuitous care costs: £54,000;
Past case management costs: £7,000;
Past travel costs: £200;
Past miscellaneous expenses: £2,000.

Claimant's legal team
Jane Tracy Forster instructed by Russell-Cooke solicitors

Defendan't legal team
Deborah Powell instructed by Capsticks