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‘Hepatitis in children: Any delays in diagnosis could lead to negligence claims, say lawyers

Parents whose children have mysteriously fallen ill with hepatitis and received a delayed diagnosis could be entitled to negligence claims, lawyers believe.

Officials are no closer to explaining a recent and unusual outbreak in cases of liver inflammation recorded among young children across the UK.

To date, a total of 163 children have been diagnosed. Eleven of these have received liver transplants, while 13 are currently in hospital. Globally in recent months, 300 children have been struck down by the illness, which has no clear cause.

Because the UK cases have been identified retrospectively, there is potential that doctors and medics may have “missed signs” which would have led to earlier hepatitis diagnoses and treatment, lawyers say.

“There are a significant number of these diagnoses which are actually retrospective,” said Jonathan Peacock, a partner at VWV specialising in clinical negligence.

“The obvious issue there from a negligence point of view is if you have missed signs, which ought to have led you to a diagnosis of hepatitis earlier, as a result of which it’s gone untreated and the outcome is worse, then potentially you’re negligent.

“There’s two stages: was the care diagnosis, treatment, intervention, was that of a reasonable standard? If the answer is no – there was clearly a negligent delay, or a breach of duty of care, then the second question that then arises is has the individual been harmed by that delay?”

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Source: The Independent, 10 May 2022


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