Little boy suffers physical disability due to hospital flaw

  • A three-year-old boy named Reuben, who has toxic shock syndrome lost part of his fingers and experienced below knee amputations after a tragic hospital error
  • Ipswich Hospital was held accountable for the case and has issued an ‘unreserved apology’ to the family
  • Her mother started a campaign that seeks to aid people on becoming self-ware on the symptoms and effects of the syndrome

A three-year-old boy who has toxic shock syndrome lost part of his fingers and experienced below the knee amputations after a tragic hospital error.

Reuben – or Captain Chaos as her mother calls him – burnt his chest in an accident last July 2015 when he knocked over an iron while playing with his older brother Harry. His mother, Louise Harvey-Smith, 41, a senior civil servant at the Home Office, rushed her son to A&E at Ipswich Hospital where Reuben was given morphine and had his burn dressed.

Doctors also diagnosed that there could be a possibility of third-degree burns affecting the deeper tissue on one patch of the wound he attained from the accident.

Reuben was referred to the burns unit at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, some 80 miles away, the following morning where Reuben’s burn was redressed; he was given an appointment at the Chelmsford unit four days later.

Reuben nearly lost his life after doctors failed to identify toxic shock syndrome, a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection, resulting on him having prosthetic legs and stumps evident on his seven fingers.

According to Smith, the medics of Ipswich Hospital refused the advice given by the country’s leading medicinal experts but rather sent Reuben home stating his diagnosis only showed that he has tonsillitis.

Ipswich Hospital was held accountable for the case and has issued an ‘unreserved apology’ to the family in addition to an interim payment of £50,000 for prosthetics.

“The Trust are committed to ensuring Reuben is appropriately compensated so that he has the care, prostheses and equipment that he needs throughout his life,” Ipswich Hospital Trust spokeswoman stated, adding that the hospital has already admitted ‘full liability for shortcomings’ received by Reuben.

With Smith’s determination to raise awareness about toxic shock syndrome, she started a campaign named as “Reuben Bear Campaign” that seeks to aid people on becoming self-aware on the symptoms and effects of the syndrome.

“We chose the name Bear because it highlights the four simple steps to look out for,” she said. “B for burn: has the patient suffered recent burns or injuries? E for examine: are there signs of infection such as fever, sore throat, vomiting and dizziness. A for advice: toxic shock syndrome and sepsis can be life-threatening so if you suspect it, seek medical advice immediately. R for referral: ask for a referral to a burns unit if you are concerned about toxic shock syndrome.”

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