UK Birth Medical Negligence

In the UK birth medical negligence can have devastating consequences – not just for the child who has been injured during their delivery, but for parents, siblings and the extended family as well. The costs of providing care for a baby injured by birth medical negligence in the UK can be substantial, and hospitals are often reluctant to admit liability at an early stage – leaving parents to make major sacrifices to raise their child until compensation is paid.

Making a birth medical negligence claim in the UK is often complicated by the need to establish where a mistake in pre or post-natal care was made and who by. It also has to be shown that the injury sustained due to birth medical negligence could have been avoided “at the time and in the circumstances” with more professional care.

For these reasons, it is advisable to speak with a medical negligence solicitor at the first practical opportunity to establish negligence. Once negligence is proved, parents can begin receiving interim payments of UK birth medical negligence compensation until such time as the lifelong needs of your child – and how much they will cost – is calculated.

Judge Approves Compensation for Brain Damage due to a Mismanaged Birth

A judge at London´s High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for brain damage due to a mismanaged birth in favour of a woman in her thirties.

The woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was born with brain damage in the 1970s after her birth at the Southmead Hospital in Bristol was allegedly mismanaged. The woman has been looked after by her mother and sister since her birth; but, as her mother is now getting older, the decision was made to claim compensation for brain damage due to a mismanaged birth in order that the woman would be assured of professional care for the rest of her life.

The claim was unusual inasmuch as it had been made after so long a time. Initially, the Department of Health – against who the claim was made – contested its responsibility for the woman´s brain damage, but eventually agreed to a settlement package based on 50% liability without an actual admission of liability. The package consists of a £1.8 million lump sum in order that the family can buy a specially adapted home and annual tax-free, index-linked payments £120,000.

Approving the settlement of compensation for brain damage due to a mismanaged birth at London´s High Court, Mr Justice Foskett said the total value of the compensation package amounted to £3,345,000 due to the woman´s “greatly shortened” life expectancy. The judge commented that it was an “entirely sensible” package in the circumstances and paid tribute to the woman´s mother and sister for providing dedicated care for decades before taking legal action.

Also paying tribute to the “incredible care and devotion” provided by the woman´s mother and sister was William Wraight. Mr Wraight was in court representing the National Health Service said that Southmead Hospital “regrets the circumstances which gave rise to this claim”. Judge Foskett closed the hearing by saying the woman´s care was “very demanding, and has been over a number of years, none of which is her fault”.

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Settlement of Compensation for a Birth Brain Damage Injury Approved by Court

A multi-million pound settlement of compensation for a birth brain damage injury has been approved by the High Court in favour of a seven-year-old girl.

The unnamed seven-year-old girl was born at Solihull Hospital in December 2008 after medical professionals failed to notice signs of foetal distress due to the girl being starved of oxygen in her mother´s womb.

As a result of the medical negligence, the little girl is visually impaired, cannot speak and suffers from epilepsy. She attends a special school for children with disabilities, where she has learned to communicate using sounding techniques and switches.

On their daughter´s behalf, the girl´s parents claimed compensation for a birth brain damage injury against the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. The NHS Trust quickly acknowledged liability for the medical negligence responsible for girl´s injury and negotiations started to discuss a settlement.

At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Spencer heard that, despite her severe disabilities, the girl was a “delightful child”, who enjoyed going to the beach and who had won several awards for swimming. The judge praised the girl´s parents for the care and devotion they had given her.

Following the reading of an apology from the NHS Trust, Mr Justice Spencer was told the details of the settlement of compensation for a birth brain damage injury. The NHS Trust´s barrister said “the trust hoped the payout would provide financial stability and alleviate the many challenges this family has yet to face”.

The settlement consists of a £2.23 million lump sum and annual tax-free, index-linked payments of £178,000 per year – rising to £280,000 on the girl´s nineteenth birthday. The judge approved the settlement of compensation for a birth brain damage injury, commenting “she is a loving, and much loved, little girl and her parents must be very proud of her indeed” and wishing the family the very best for the future.

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High Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for Brain Damage at Birth

The High Court in London has approved a settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth in favour of a seven-year-old boy from Crawley in West Sussex.

Thomas Hord was born at the East Surrey Hospital in March 2009 by emergency Caesarean section having been deprived of oxygen in the womb for twenty minutes. As a result of the hospital´s failure to effect his delivery in a timely manner after identifying foetal distress, Thomas now suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and can only communicate with his eyes.

Despite his debilitating birth injury, Thomas attends a mainstream primary school and lives at home with his parents – Christopher and Samantha – who have three other children.

On their son´s behalf, Christopher and Samantha claimed compensation for a brain injury at birth against Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS trust. Liability for Thomas´ injuries was admitted in 2011, and a settlement of compensation was negotiated that includes a £2.5 million lump sum and annual, index-linked starting at £100,000 and rising to £245,000 when Thomas becomes an adult.

At the hearing to approve the settlement, Mr Justice Warby heard Michael Wilson – the Chief Executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust apologise for the errors in Thomas´ care and “the difficulties caused for him and his family”. Margaret Bowron – QC for the NHS Trust – praised Christopher and Samantha for all they had done for Thomas since his birth.

Approving the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth, Mr Justice Warby echoed the QC´s words. He said: “I would like to express my admiration for the parents’ work and devotion to the care of their son, particularly in light of the pressures of work and family matters, that have no doubt made it even more difficult. The court wishes the family the very best for the future.”

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Mother Settles Claim for Surgical Packing Left Inside Her during Birth

A mother has settled her claim for surgical packing left inside her during the birth of her son at the Hull Women and Children´s Hospital in 2012.

Elise Cattle (27) gave birth to her son – Freddie – in August 2012, but for months afterwards she suffered from pain, bleeding and infections that prevented her from caring for her newborn child. Unable to change or bathe Freddie, Elise missed vital bonding time with her son while her parents took care of the tasks she was unable to do.

After five months of unresponsive treatment prescribed by her GP, Elise was referred to a specialist. The specialist discovered that surgical packing used to stem bleeding had been left inside her and, as soon as he removed it, Elise´s pains disappeared.

Elise sought legal advice and made a claim for surgical packing left inside her against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust. The Trust conducted an investigation into the claim and acknowledged that a mistake in Elise´s care had been made. After a period of negotiation, the Trust agreed to pay Elise £7,500 compensation for the pain and suffering she had experienced.

Speaking with her local paper after the claim for surgical packing left inside had been resolved, Elise said: “When I got home from hospital, the pain just got worse and worse. I couldn’t sit down for days afterwards, and had to use a rubber ring to sit on. I was laid on the sofa while my mum and dad did everything. It really affected my bond with Freddie. I felt like I’d failed him.”

Elise´s solicitor added: “It is accepted by the NHS that these errors are being made simply because healthcare staff and providers are not following clear, simple guidelines.” However, Mike Wright – the Chief Nurse for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust – told the newspaper that the hospital would learn from its mistake. “Never events are rare, but when mistakes do happen, we are committed to being open and honest about them” Mr Wright told reporters.

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Court Approves Settlement of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claim

The High Court in London has approved an £11.5 million settlement of young boy´s athetoid cerebral palsy compensation claim after a hearing.

The five-year-old boy from Brighton – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was born at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in March 2010, having been deprived of oxygen in the womb due to a failure by midwives at the hospital to notice his mother´s prolapsed cord.

As a result of being deprived of oxygen, the boy now suffers from four-limbed athetoid cerebral palsy – a condition that results in involuntary movements, epilepsy, sight issues and a speech impediment. Because of these issues, the boy will be entirely dependent on others for the rest of his life.

In 2011, the boy´s father made an athetoid cerebral palsy compensation claim on behalf of his son against the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust; alleging that if midwives had notice the prolapsed cord, and the boy had been delivered eleven minutes earlier, he would not have sustained such devastating injuries.

In November 2012, the NHS trust admitted liability for the boy´s birth injuries and an interim settlement of the athetoid cerebral palsy compensation claim was made while reports were being conducted into the child´s future needs. Earlier this week at the High Court, a care and rehabilitation package worth £11.5 million was approved in final settlement of the athetoid cerebral palsy claim.

Speaking after the approval hearing had concluded, the family´s solicitor said: “We are pleased that we secured this settlement for him and his family, they now have the financial security and reassurance that the costs for his future treatment will be met. We hope that lessons are learnt by the Hospital and their staff so that patient safety in this situation can be improved and each and every patient receives the best quality of care at all times.”

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Woman Allowed to Pursue Compensation for an Injury from an Epidural

A woman from Leeds has been granted permission to pursue compensation for an injury from an epidural eleven years after the injury was sustained.

In 2004, Karen Rayner (aged 24 at the time) gave birth to her third child at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent. Prior to the delivery, Karen was given an epidural which, she claims, resulted in a loss of feeling in her legs and pains in her spine and head.

Karen was readmitted to the Medway Maritime Hospital three weeks later, having been diagnosed with hydrocephalus which is more commonly known as water on the brain. Surgery was carried out to drain the fluid, but Karen still continues to suffer as a result of an inflammation affecting her brain and spinal cord.

It was not until 2012 that a medical expert discovered that her ongoing condition was likely caused by the epidural being contaminated with an antiseptic called chlorhexidine. Karen – now living in Leeds – sought legal advice and claimed compensation for an injury from an epidural against Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

The NHS Trust disputed the claim for compensation for an injury from an epidural on the grounds that the three-year Statute of Limitations for injury compensation claims had expired. Karen´s solicitor argued that her claim had been made within three years of the “date of knowledge” of an injury and its cause, and took the case to the High Court in London.

Last week, Mr Justice Wilkie agreed with the solicitor´s interpretation of the law, and granted Karen permission to pursue her claim for compensation for an injury from an epidural. Judge Wilkie said that Karen had been “assiduous” in pursuing her right to compensation for an injury from an epidural and it would be wrong to stop her case. No date has yet been set for the full hearing.

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Judge Awards Compensation for Midwife Negligence

A judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh has awarded £725,000 compensation for midwife negligence that resulted in a brachial plexus injury.

The claim for compensation for midwife negligence was made by an unnamed woman on behalf of her child – identified in court only as “Baby C” – who suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder after excessive force was used during his delivery.

The court heard how Baby C was born at the Law Hospital Maternity Unit in July 1999, and how the delivery was initially going to be performed by a student midwife – Lynn Kerr. However, when Baby C started to emerge with the umbilical cord wrapped around his throat, nurse Kerr handed over to the more experienced Sister Rosemary Murphy.

According to the mother´s legal team, Sister Murphy failed to recognise a potential medical emergency and used excessive force – described in court as “similar to a tug of war” – to complete the delivery of Baby C. Lawyers at the Court of Session said that Sister Murphy´s actions were “pretty violent” and claimed that she had failed to follow protocols established in 1999 for such a scenario.

Sister Murphy and the Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust denied negligence and contested the claim for compensation for midwife negligence. However, Judge Lady Rae found in the mother´s favour – ruling that there was sufficient evidence of negligence to prove that Sister Murphy acted wrongly. In a written judgement, Lady Rae commented:

“I am satisfied that in course of his birth, C suffered a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side as a result of the negligence of the defenders’ employee Sister Rosemary Murphy and for whom the defenders are responsible. Sister Murphy failed to recognise an obstetric emergency after the student midwife had been unable to deliver the body of C after delivery of his head. As a result of these failures C was born with a severe brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder.”

Saying that Sister Murphy should have called for assistance “at the time and in the circumstances”, Lady Rae awarded Baby C £725,000 compensation for midwife negligence.

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Compensation for Brain Damage due to Hospital Negligence Approved at Court

The High Court in Ireland has approved a €1.75 million settlement of compensation for brain damage due to hospital negligence after a four-week hearing.

On 6th September 1996, Thomas O´Connor was born at the Sligo General Hospital showing no signs of life due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb. Thomas was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital´s intensive care unit, but he suffered a heart attack on his way from the delivery theatre and his brain was deprived of oxygen for a second time until he was resuscitated again.

Thomas suffered terrible brain damage due to the lack of oxygen. Now eighteen years of age, Thomas is a spastic quadriplegic, blind, and has to be fed through a tube. He is cared for full-time in a residential facility close to his family´s home in Collooney in County Sligo, where his mother can visit him every day.

Through his mother – Ann O´Connor – Thomas claimed compensation for brain damage due to hospital negligence against the Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive. It was alleged in the legal action that staff had failed to monitor the foetal heartrate prior to his birth, and that the heart attack was attributable to ineffective ventilation after the first time he was resuscitated.

The Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive both denied negligence and contested the allegations. Consequently, the claim for compensation for brain damage due to hospital negligence went to the Dublin High Court where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

During the course of the four-week hearing, Judge Cross was told by an expert witness that the CTG trace monitoring Thomas´ foetal heartrate had been discontinued on the morning of his birth despite there being evidence of foetal distress. It was claimed that the failure to monitor his condition properly delayed Thomas´ birth by up to four hours and, had the foetal distress been identified and acted upon sooner, Thomas may have been spared his devastating birth injuries.

The judge also heard expert testimony that the tube used to ventilate Thomas had been inserted to a depth of 14cms. The depth it should have been inserted to was between 9cms and 10cms and the consequence of this alleged negligence was that Thomas was not ventilated effectively – causing the heart attack which exacerbated the degree of brain damage sustained by Thomas.

At the end of the hearing, the Health Service Executive agreed to a €1.75 million settlement of compensation for brain damage due to hospital negligence without an admission of liability. After being told that the settlement will be used to pay for Thomas´ continued care at the residential home in Collooney, Judge Cross approved the settlement – commenting he was delighted the legal ordeal had come to an end for the O´Connor family.

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Claim for Tetraplegic Birth Injuries Resolved after Delay in Court

The High Court in Ireland has approved the €9 million settlement of a claim for tetraplegic birth injuries after an unprecedented delay in reaching an agreement.

Alex Butler from East Dunmore in County Waterford was born “blue and lifeless” at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, after a locum doctor covering the vacation of her mother´s consultant obstetrician failed to act on complications with her delivery.

Alex´s birth was avoidably delayed by ten minutes and, due to being starved of oxygen in the womb, is severely brain damaged. Although Alex is described as having a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”, her tetraplegic birth injuries mean that she will need around the clock care for the rest of her life.

Sonya Butler – Alex´s mother – made a compensation claim for tetraplegic birth injuries against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – the equivalent in Ireland of the National Health Service. The HSE acknowledged liability for Alex´s avoidable brain damage and a €1.4 million interim payment of compensation was made in 2013 in lieu of a structured settlement system being introduced.

The 2013 case was adjourned for two years so that proposed legislation could be passed to enable a structured compensation payment system. As that legislation has not yet been presented to the Irish parliament, but with the necessary legislation not yet passed, the claim for tetraplegic birth injuries was heard at the High Court in Dublin by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

The hearing commenced with a representative of Waterford Regional Hospital saying that the hospital “sincerely regrets the tragic consequences their failings have caused to both Alex and to her parents John and Sonya Butler”. Thereafter, the judge heard that there were still issues with the settlement and a series of witnesses were called protracting the hearing.

Negotiations continued for an unprecedented eighteen days until the agreement of a €9 million settlement was reached. Approving the settlement of Alex´s claim for tetraplegic birth injuries, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said the settlement was reasonable and sensible – but, outside the High Court, Alex´s parents said they were shocked that negotiations had taken so long.

Sonya Butler criticised the State Claims Agency´s approach to negotiations and told reporters “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.” Sonya claimed that they only conceded to the parent´s demands because “their costs [for the protracted court case] were going to be astronomical”.

The State Claims Agency responded by issuing a statement “The State Claims Agency recognises that clinical negligence cases involve patients who have suffered enormous trauma and pain. The Agency is acutely conscious that it has a duty to act fairly, ethically and with compassion in all its dealings with these patients and their families.”

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Woman Awarded €140,000 Compensation for a Swab Left Inside

A woman from Dublin has been awarded €140,000 compensation for a swab left inside her after giving birth and the subsequent lack of care she received.

On 24th December 2012, Clare Lalor (30) from Swords in County Dublin gave birth to a healthy child after a difficult labour. Clare was discharged from the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin on 27th December, but returned twice on 2nd January and 9th January due to a pain in her lower abdomen and a terrible smell around her lower body.

On neither of her return visits was Clare examined internally and, on her second return visit, doctors prescribed her antibiotics. It was only on a third visit the following week – by which time the smell had become unbearable – that Clare was examined internally and when it was discovered that a vaginal swab had been left inside during the delivery process.

The swab was removed, but two days later Clare attended the National Maternity Hospital once again suffering from sweating, diarrhoea, chills and a fever. She was temporarily admitted to the hospital for treatment, but then discharged later that day when her symptoms were attributed to post-natal depression.

After she returned home, Clare´s condition deteriorated and her partner took her to the Beaumont Hospital. At the Beaumont Hospital, Clare´s condition was diagnosed as C.difficile – a digestive bacterial infection that had developed due to Clare being unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics at the National Maternity Hospital.

When she was feeling better, Clare sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a swab left inside her – the negligent event that had triggered her illness. The National Maternity Hospital conceded the error, and that the negligent event had resulted in significant discomfort and the C.difficle infection Clare had contracted as a result of the unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics.

However, the National Maternity Hospital contested the extent of psychological injury the was included in Clare´s claim, and argued that her emotional trauma was attributable to post-natal depression rather than any adjustment disorder caused by the swab being left inside her. As no acceptable settlement of compensation for a swab left inside could be negotiated, the case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin for an assessment of damages.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross accepted the hospital´s testimony that a difficult labour preceding the birth of Claire´s child made it more likely that she would suffer from post-natal depression, and that the symptoms of her alleged psychological injury had some origin in her underlying disposition.

However, the Judge Cross ruled that, were it not for the admitted negligence of the National Maternity Hospital, Claire would have recovered from post-natal depression quicker than she had done and would not have the level of psychological injury that she was currently suffering from. Judge Cross found in Clare´s favour and awarded her €140,000 compensation for a swab left inside.

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