Specialist legal advice when there has been a failure to diagnose Group B Strep (GBS)
Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacterium commonly found in approximately 20-30% of men and woman and is usually found in the digestive system or genital tract. The organism is normally harmless and most of us don’t know we are carriers as it doesn’t usually have any symptoms.
The consequences of maternal Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection for the newborn may be avoided with the right medical treatment, but sadly we often see cases where the right steps were not taken to prevent or treat the infection in the neonate.
Where a baby has suffered significant injury as a result of acquired Group B Strep infection, some parents choose to seek compensation to ensure the right treatment and care is provided for their child not only in the short term but for the fullness of their child’s life.
How do I find out whether my baby and I were given the right treatment for GBS?
If you are concerned that you were not given the right medical treatment during your pregnancy and delivery, or that your baby was not treated appropriately at birth, have a look at our guide to the diagnosis and treatment of GBS.
I’m concerned my baby and I were not given the right treatment for GBS infection, what can I do?
You may wish to make a complaint to the Hospital Trust where you were treated, this should prompt a full investigation of what happened; we can assist you with the complaint. Depending upon the outcome of your complaint, you may wish to take things further and make a claim against the Trust for negligent medical care.
How do I make a medical negligence claim for Group B Strep infection?
In order to make a legal claim against a Hospital Trust for failure to treat a Group B Strep infection, you should speak with a specialist lawyer who will be able to advise you whether you have reasonable grounds to pursue a claim. You will probably have reasonable grounds if you or your baby didn’t receive the right treatment in time, or at all, please see our guide to the diagnosis and treatment of GBS infection for further information.
What is the process for making a claim against a hospital or other medical professional?
The process of making a claim is involved but essentially it starts by obtaining all relevant medical records for the mother and child. Once these have been obtained, we will ask an independent medical expert to review the medical records and tell us whether the treatment received fell below a reasonable standard and caused an injury. If it did fall below this standard we will write to the hospital, GP or other medical professional and tell them why we believe that the treatment was substandard. They will then have the opportunity to admit or deny the allegations we have made. If they deny the allegations your claim may have to be issued in court. We call this ‘issuing a claim’.
The court will then manage the claim by telling us how many witnesses we are allowed, how many experts we are allowed to use, and what evidence we should present.
The court will set a timetable for us to work to. Usually there will be some time set aside for the parties to have a meeting to try to reach agreement upon the issues and the level of compensation which should be paid. More often than not financial settlement will be reached before any trial takes place.
The trial is the final stage of the court process, where all of the parties come together in the courtroom and all of the evidence is presented to a Judge so that they may decide upon the outcome the case.
How do I know if my claim will be successful?
There is always a degree of uncertainty when bringing a claim for medical negligence. A reputable solicitor who is an expert in this field will be able to advise you whether your case if more likely to win than lose, however this will be based on the information provided to us by the instructed medical experts. We usually assess the prospects of success in a case on a % basis.
How much will it cost me to bring a claim?
If your child has suffered a brain injury as a result of negligent care around Group B Strep infection they will usually be entitled to obtain legal aid funding. Not all firms of solicitors can offer legal aid funding as only very specialist firms who have a proven track record can do so. If your child is entitled to it you are unlikely to have to pay anything towards the costs of investigating your child’s claim.
Royds Withy King is specialist and can offer legal aid funding. In the unusual event that Legal Aid isn’t available, we can offer ‘no win, no fee’ legal funding.
How long will it take to bring a claim?
Bringing a legal claim for medical negligence can be a lengthy process and the time it takes to obtain compensation depends upon the nature of the injury and whether the Defendant in the claim contests the case or not.
How much compensation is my child likely to receive?
In the case of brain injury to children, compensation is often very high, this is because it has to last for the rest of your child’s life and it has to meet all of their needs. For further information on this subject please see our brain injury compensation page.
How we can help if you think you have a claim for Group B Strep infection
If you believe that you or your baby’s infection with GBS should have been identified and treated earlier, or differently, we can help you find out for certain.
- A full investigation will be undertaken by a specialist AvMA or Law Society Accredited Lawyer. We will obtain all of the medical records and instruct independent medical experts who will report upon whether, in their view, the care received fell below a reasonable standard and whether, in turn, this caused the injury.
- If it is established that injury could have been avoided, then compensation will be sought.
Compensation for the effects of this devastating infection won’t lessen the pain, but it can help relieve the stress of raising a severely injured child in the long term.
Compensation can allow for further privately funded input from therapists, additional care needed or accepted accommodation. We’ll make sure all this is considered by reviewing all the future requirements to ensure a better quality of life for your child. It will also give you peace of mind that your child’s future is accounted for.
Find out more about compensation for birth injuries here.
We’ll work around you
We understand that it may not always be convenient to discuss your matter during working hours, so we can arrange to speak to you out of hours if that helps you.
Visiting our offices may be difficult for you too, therefore we can offer home visits also.
To find out more about how to make a claim, and whether this will cost you any money, please visit our how to make a claim page.
Information regarding the treatment of GBS in mothers and in babies
It is possible to detect maternal Group B Strep infection during pregnancy, however there is no universal screening programme for this in the UK.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists state that infection is more likely to be acquired by the baby if:
- Your baby is born prematurely, at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy
- You have previously had a baby who developed GBS infection
- You have a high temperature during labour
- More than 18 hours have passed between your waters breaking and your baby being born, as there is more opportunity for the bacteria to colonise the birth canal
If GBS is detected during pregnancy or labour you should be offered antibiotics during labour to reduce the risk of your baby developing the infection.
If the infection was not identified during pregnancy it may be detected in your baby, usually within 12 hours of birth. Babies with GBS infection may be presenting with symptoms such as:
- being very sleepy
- appearing floppy
- not feeding well
- a high or low temperature
- abnormally fast or slow heart rate or breathing rate
- low blood pressure
- low blood sugar
If the infection was not identified during pregnancy, but it is suspected in your baby, antibiotics should be given as soon as possible.
If you or your baby weren’t offered effective treatment, or symptoms were missed, it could have been as a result of negligence.