A SCHOOLGIRL who was prescribed Calpol by a nurse when she was suffering from life-threatening meningitis, has triumphed in her fight for compensation.
Chantelle Pringle, from Washington, was just two when she had to have her feet amputated after her delayed admission to hospital led to the onset of gangrene.
After the youngster was hit by a high fever and vomiting, her mother Keely Grotz telephoned an out-of-hours medical service shortly after midnight on November 17, 2004.
She spoke to a triage nurse who told her Chantelle probably had an upper respiratory tract infection and advised giving her Calpol.
She was in fact suffering from meningococcal septicaemia.
The toddler’s condition worsened over the next 11 hours and, when her mother spotted a tell-tale rash on her body in the morning, an ambulance was called to the family’s home in Barmston, Washington, and she was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Only then was she treated with antibiotics and that came too late to save her from the double amputation, London’s High Court heard.
Chantelle, now aged 11, was guaranteed massive compensation for her injuries when Judge Michael Harvey QC ruled that the nurse had been negligent in failing to arrange her immediate admission to hospital.
Had she been treated those crucial hours earlier, her feet would probably have been saved, ruled the judge, who found the company that ran the out-of-hours service, Nestor Primecare Services Limited, liable for the nurse’s blunder.
Although the amount of Chantelle’s compensation has yet to be assessed, her lawyers have valued her claim at about £1m.
The judge said Miss Grotz had phoned her GP’s surgery just after midnight but encountered an answering machine that gave her the number of the out-of-hours service.
The worried mum had a 15-minute conversation with the nurse who told her Chantelle probably had a viral infection and advised that she be kept cool and given Calpol.
Nestor Primecare admitted the nurse had been negligent in failing to arrange for a doctor to call at the family home.
However, the company disputed claims that the nurse should have called for an ambulance immediately, also claiming that, even if he had, that would have made no difference to the tragic outcome.
The judge said that, had the nurse correctly noted Chantelle’s symptoms – in particular her lethargy – Nestor Prime Care’s computer system would have prompted him to call for an ambulance straight away.
Had Chantelle been admitted to hospital earlier, she would have been given antibiotics and the double amputation would probably not have been necessary, he ruled.
The amount of Chantelle’s compensation will be calculated at a further court hearing, unless final settlement terms are reached before then.
Following yesterday’s judgement, Richard Preece, medical director for Primecare said: “Meningococcal disease is a serious infection that can progress extremely quickly from symptoms that are most commonly caused by minor ailments to a devastating illness.
“Chantelle is a remarkable young lady who has done a great deal of charitable work to raise funds for those affected by meningitis, thankfully in the 10 years since Chantelle was ill the number of people affected has reduced by half.
“We are now fully considering the detail from today’s judgment and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”