Wrong diagnosis meningitis girl's parents win five-figure settlement


The parents of a five-year-old girl who died from meningitis after being wrongly diagnosed with a stomach bug have been awarded a five-figure settlement.

Kelsey Smart died in February 2012 after three different GPs failed to recognise her condition and send her to A&E.

Her parents Hannah and Jamie say it "cripples them inside" to think their little girl could have been saved and hope speaking out may stop other families from having to suffer the same.

Kelsey first fell ill less than 48 hours before her death, but the out-of-hours doctor her mother called diagnosed her with a stomach bug over the phone.

She was taken to the out-of-hours surgery when she continued to be ill and developed a rash on her stomach.

But the youngster's mother was again told that it was just a bug.

Her own GP said the same when she examined Kelsey the following morning.

Shortly afterwards the five-year-old was screaming in agony and began fitting in the car as she was driven to A&E.

Kelsey underwent emergency surgery to drain fluid from her brain, but despite the best efforts of medics at Bristol Children's Hospital, she died.

Hannah Smart, 29, from Kingswood, Bristol, said: "They said she had meningitis and she was brain damaged and there was nothing they could do.

"It all happened so quickly, I still can't get my head around it, even now. It just cripples me inside to think that if they had done things differently, if they had acted sooner, then Kelsey could still have been here.

"Looking back the signs were there and I believe the doctors should have known. They really let us and Kelsey down."

She added: "If we can make just one more person aware then it's worth it. I don't want any other parents to have to go through what we have."

Clinical negligence specialist, Stephen Clarkson, from law firm Slater and Gordon, represented the couple in legal action against the doctor who examined Kelsey at the out-of-hours surgery.

The GP did not admit liability, but the case settled out of court for an undisclosed, five-figure sum.

Mr Clarkson said: "Kelsey's death was a preventable tragedy and that is something that Hannah and Jamie will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

"Nothing can bring her back, but they hope lessons will be learned and the conversation around meningitis will continue to raise awareness and to stop this happening to someone else."