Doctor failed to pick up on boy's brain injuries, judge rules
Published 17/11/2012 | 05:00
A GP has been judged to blame for a toddler's devastating brain injuries which resulted in a massive €4.6m (£3.7m) compensation payout in the UK.
Aaron Blain, now 21, developed bacterial meningitis four months after injuring his head when his pram got tangled in the reins of a panicking horse in June 1993, London's High Court heard. His parents alleged negligence by the family's then GP, Dr Sean Maguire, in failing to refer Aaron for an emergency hospital assessment after the medic checked him over for a suspicious nasal fluid in August that year.
Aaron's lawyers claimed this was cerebro-spinal fluid which was a telltale symptom of possible brain damage. But Dr Maguire – then a trainee GP at the Park View Practice in Reddish, Stockport – said the toddler presented with upper respiratory tract symptoms akin to "snuffles".
However, a High Court judge yesterday found that Dr Maguire, now of Laraghcon, Lucan, Co Dublin, had carried out a "clearly inadequate assessment" of his patient.
A surgeon at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital finally diagnosed cerebro-fluid leakage on October 5, 1993, but a subsequent operation came too late to avert the virulent effects of meningitis.
In May 2009, Aaron's parents settled his claim against Dr Maguire for 65pc of the full value of the claim, accepting £3,737,500 (€4.6m) in compensation.
But the case returned to court this week as lawyers for the Medical Defence Union, which backed Dr Maguire's case, fought to exonerate the GP.
Judge Cotter, however, laid the blame squarely at the GP's door in failing to pick up symptoms of Aaron's malaise, and failing to refer him to hospital.
He was still in his "early days" as a doctor, said the judge, but added: "He fell into the all-too-familiar trap of not attaching weight to the history given by, and concerns of, the parents. He had a brief snapshot whereas they saw the bigger picture."