Whittington Hospital pays out seven figure sum after errors left boy brain damaged
13:47 07 March 2014
The parents of a six-year-old boy left severely brain damaged at birth because staff at the Whittington Hospital failed to treat a simple infection have received a seven figure sum in compensation.
Idriss Abrous was born fighting for his life after maternity staff at the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, committed a series of errors during his delivery in 2007, causing him to “turn blue” and his brain to be starved of oxygen.
The young boy – who would have been a healthy newborn had he been given routine antibiotics – has now been left with severe cerebral palsy, unable to speak and requiring 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
On Monday, the High Court approved the payout to his devoted parents, who lived in Muswell Hill at the time before moving to France.
Mother Olivia Abrous, 36, said the shocking lapse in care had devastated the family.
“It was my first pregnancy and we were so excited to welcome Idriss into our family,” she said.
“As my labour progressed I knew something wasn’t right as I began suffering a fever and couldn’t stop shaking, but I assumed the maternity staff knew what they were doing.
“When Idriss was eventually born he didn’t make a sound and was blue so staff rushed him to the resuscitation room and there was nothing me or my husband could do but wait.
“He had to undergo scans on his brain at just five hours old and we were devastated to be told he had suffered brain damage.
“We just couldn’t understand how it was possible for this to happen when I had been told just hours before that my unborn baby was healthy.”
After suffering abdominal pain at 17 weeks, a swab test confirmed Mrs Abrous was infected with Group B Streptococcus (GBS) – a bacteria that is usually harmless to adults but can be fatal to newborns with low immune systems.
Despite knowing about the infection, staff failed to prevent it being passed on to her baby.
Mrs Abrous and husband Mourad are now calling for all expectant mothers to be screened for GBS, a test that is currently not mandatory in the UK.
“I cannot understand why more isn’t done to protect women with GBS,” she said.
“If I had not shown symptoms I would never have been tested like hundreds of other women in the UK which seems crazy when a simple swab could ensure the appropriate action is taken during labour to prevent it from spreading to a baby.
“We would like to see all pregnant women offered a test for GBS and increased training for maternity staff.
“These are simple steps that could make the world of difference to families like ours and ensure no one else has to suffer the same horrendous ordeal.
“We’re pleased the legal action is now over and it gives us peace of mind to know that Idriss will have access to the best possible care throughout his life.
“But the fact remains he should not have suffered brain damage.”
The Whittington Hospital admitted its staff were responsible for a series of errors, including failing to provide antibiotics, inadequate monitoring and failing to offer a caesarean section.
A statement from the hospital said: “We are deeply sorry for the failings in the quality of care provided to Mrs Amorim-Abrous and have offered our sincere apologies for what happened in 2007 and the injuries caused to her son.
“The [hospital] welcomes the court’s approval of the mutually agreed compensation package that will provide support for him throughout his life and his family.
“We have since reviewed our systems around the treatment of women with Group B Streptococcus (B Strep/GBS) and made a number of changes to ensure the appropriate care is given to mothers who are carriers.”