Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 14:09 UK

Pay-out after baby misdiagnosed

Liam Eaves
Liam Eaves died in August 2004

The parents of baby who died after medics failed to diagnose meningitis have been awarded compensation.

Nine-month-old Liam Eaves died in hospital in August 2004 after a GP and paramedics mistook his symptoms for a viral infection and nappy rash.

Rachael and Dean Eaves, from Stoke, Coventry, accepted a five-figure out-of-court settlement for negligence.

West Midlands Ambulance Service regrets its treatment had been "below standard" and added "lessons have been learnt".

Liam's parents took him to a family GP on 18 August, 2004, when he first became unwell and was shivering and coughing.

Diagnosing a suspected ear infection, the doctor prescribed pain killers and sent the baby home.

Liam's condition worsened later that day and he became listless and developed a rash on his leg. His parents took him back to the GP who again sent him home.

I was really made to feel I was over-reacting
Rachael Eaves
Liam's mother

Later that evening, an ambulance was called after the baby began vomiting.

Mrs Eaves, 28, said: "Two paramedics wandered in without any equipment and asked for a history of Liam's illness.

"They said they were reassured by our GP's diagnosis that it was a virus and one even suggested it might be chickenpox or a bad case of nappy rash.

"I was really made to feel I was over-reacting so we reluctantly signed the form to say Liam would not be taken to hospital."

Liam was put to bed but another ambulance was called after his rash spread.

'Trust instincts'

He was taken to Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, but died hours later.

Mr Eaves, 28, said taking legal action was a "last resort" to find out answers about the circumstances of his son's death.

"I would urge any parents who find themselves in a similar situation to trust their instincts and, if they are not happy with a diagnosis, to insist on a second opinion," he added.

The couple's solicitor, Guy Forster from Irwin Mitchell, said they had gone through "every parent's worst nightmare".

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said it had fully investigated the "very sad case".

"Given Liam's symptoms and the concerns raised about him by his parents, he should have been conveyed to hospital and, if he had been, then it is likely that he would have survived," he added.

On behalf of Walsgrave Hospital, a spokesman for Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT) said the original complaint was investigated by the Healthcare Commission.

"The PCT is satisfied that all necessary and appropriate steps were taken at the time," he added.

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