MEDICAL law experts representing a baby left severely paralysed after contracting jaundice are calling on the NHS to add a new ‘never event’ to its list of serious but preventable patient safety incidents.

Specialists at JMW Solicitors said the failure to carry out a simple test on babies who develop jaundice should be added to the ‘never events’ list as it can lead to catastrophic brain damage.

‘Never events’ are serious but preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventative measures have been implemented.

The law firm represents one-year-old Vasili Kalisperas of Malvern, who was left with a form of brain damage known as kernicterus, and is deaf and blind after an unaccompanied student midwife failed to act on his newborn jaundice.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said it was deeply sorry and had put an improved procedure in place so that no student midwife could make home visits on their own unless their supervisor is confident they are fully competent.

Eddie Jones, head of medical negligence at JMW, said despite the potentially devastating consequences, babies who develop jaundice were not consistently being tested.

“When jaundice occurs in the first 24 hours of life, a failure to test and therefore monitor is a particular concern as it represents a risk to the child. A failure to test the child delays their treatment so there is no excuse for such a catastrophic error to be made. This is why we believe it should be recognised as an NHS ‘never event’ as it may help to ensure midwives and other NHS staff providing neonatal care receive the training and guidance they need.”

He said the implications for a child with high bilirubin levels that were not treated in time could be huge.

“The parents are left to come to terms with the fact that their baby was born completely healthy but due to the failure to carry out a simple test they are permanently brain damaged,” he said.

Jaundice is common in new-born babies and generally harmless.