Girl who lost both feet to infection was told to take calpol, court hears

Nine-year-old Chantelle Pringle, from Barmston, Washington
Nine-year-old Chantelle Pringle, from Barmston, Washington
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A GIRL who suffered a double amputation due to a devastating bacterial infection when she was a baby has launched a million-pound damages claim.

Chantelle Pringle, now 11, was just two when she developed bacterial septicaemia, London’s High Court heard.

Although ultimately rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital for urgent treatment in November 2004, it came too late to save her from the effects of virulent blood-poisoning, her barrister, Lisa Sullivan, told the court.

Chantelle’s legal team are focusing their criticisms on the advice given by a nurse who spoke to her mum, Keeley Grotz, after she telephoned the out-of-hours medical advice service operated by Nestor Primecare Services Ltd.

The company was responsible for advising patients outside normal GP surgery times, but Miss Sullivan claimed the nurse should have arranged for an emergency ambulance to be called.

Ms Grotz, 33, of Barmston, Washington, rang the service soon after midnight on November 17, 2004, said the barrister, explaining to the duty nurse that Chantelle was “wobbly, vomiting and just not right”.

The nurse asked a series of questions of Ms Grotz, the court heard, prompting additional responses that the toddler was “burning up”, lethargic and short of breath.

However, the nurse ended the call by urging Ms Grotz to give Chantelle more Calpol in the morning and to “ring back if you’re worried or concerned”.

Chantelle “kept waking up” throughout the night, said Miss Sullivan, and in the morning her mother noticed a disturbing new blemish on her leg which prompted her to call for an ambulance.

Once hospitalised, Chantelle received prompt and expert attention, the barrister explained, as was necessary for a child “in extremis”.

However, by then, the infection had taken a firm hold and, just days later, medics diagnosed “tissue loss and necrosis” – the telltale signs of blood poisoning caused by meningococcal septicaemia.

Despite exploring all the options, surgeons had no choice but to carry out two drastic amputations to curtail the spread of tissue loss, resulting in the amputation of Chantelle’s right foot at the ankle and part of her left foot.

Ms Grotz – who is suing Nestor Primecare on her daughter’s behalf – claims the worst damage would have been avoided had Chantelle received emergency treatment in the early hours of November 17.

Nestor Primecare’s barrister, Gerard Boyle, said the company accepted that Chantelle “should have seen by a GP” within two hours of her mother’s call, but insisted that this would have made no difference to the tragic outcome.

The very earliest time that Chantelle could have received antibiotic treatment would have been around 3am on November 17 and this would have been too late to avert the need for the amputations, he told the court.

•The hearing continues.