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 Settlement of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy due to a Delayed Delivery

A High Court judge has approved a £7.1 million settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery in favour of a twelve year old boy.

The boy, who was only identified as “ABC” at the High Court hearing, was born at the Kettering General Hospital in 2003 after his delivery was avoidably delayed after foetal distress has been identified. As a result of the avoidable delay, the boy was starved of oxygen in the womb and he now suffers with acute cerebral palsy.

The boy has restricted mobility, needs feeding by tube and – due to lifelong learning disabilities – will never be able to work or lead an independent life. On their son´s behalf, the boy´s parents claimed compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery against the Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Partial liability for the boy´s injuries was conceded by the NHS Trust, and solicitors representing the two parties negotiated a settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery which consists of a lump sum payment and annual index-linked, tax-free payments. In today´s value, the settlement of the claim is worth £7,129,812.

As the claim for compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery was made on behalf of a legal minor, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in the boy´s best interests. Due to the potential value of the settlement, the approval hearing was held at the High Court in London before Mrs Justice Davis.

At the hearing, Mrs Justice Davis was told that the settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery had been calculated on the NHS Trust accepting 90% liability for the boy´s injuries. The court also heard an apology read to the family by the barrister representing Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Justice Davis then address the boy´s parents and said that she wanted to express her admiration for the strength they have shown in dealing with their son´s disabilities. She added that she was lost in admiration for the work they had done. The judge then added that she had “no hesitation” in approving the settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery.

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Couple Make Claim for a Stillborn Birth at Warrington Hospital

A couple have had to make a compensation claim for a stillborn birth at Warrington Hospital to get answers for why they were deprived a second daughter.

On December 21st 2014, Angela Owens (30) from Chapelford in Warrington was out shopping with her partner Paul Humphreys (31) when she experienced a sudden onset of pain. As Angela was one week and six days overdue with her second child – and due to be induced the following day – she rang the labour ward of Warrington Hospital, who told her to come in right away.

When Angela arrived at the hospital, she explained that she was concerned because the pain she was experiencing was unlike her previous pregnancy. A midwife examined Angela, but as she was only two centimetres dilated, the advice given to her was to go home and take a couple of paracetamol.

Angela refused, and was taken into a room where she asked for pain relief. A nurse told her it was too early for gas and air, and suggested that she got into the birthing pool to relieve the pain. Angela did so, but the pain intensified and Angela had to ask for assistance to get her out – asking the nurse to check on the health of her unborn child.

The previous foetal heartbeat had been recorded when Angela first entered the hospital, but – against the national guidelines for monitoring expectants mothers – no other checks had been performed since. When Angela was assisted out of the pool and place onto a bed, no foetal heart rate could be detected – either manually or by ultrasound. Baby Ella was eventually delivered just after 11.00pm, but her birth was recorded as stillborn.

Angela and Paul claim that if the medical staff at Warrington Hospital had acted on Angela´s concerns – or monitored her baby as regularly as they were supposed to do – there could have been a different outcome. However, as inquests are not held into the deaths of babies who are stillborn, the couple are reliant on the results of an internal investigation into the treatment Angela received at the hospital.

Not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, Angela and Paul have made a claim for a stillborn birth at Warrington Hospital to get the answers to their questions. They hope by engaging a solicitor to act on their behalf, they will find out exactly why medical staff failed to adhere to the national guidelines for monitoring expectant mothers and why they were deprived of a second daughter.

Update: Angela and Paul were one of ten sets of parents whose babies had died stillborn or in “unexpected circumstances” at the Warrington Hospital within a twelve month period. An investigation by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists found that the maternity unit was short-staffed, deaths were avoidable and there was often a breakdown in communication. Angela and Paul´s claim for a stillborn birth at Warrington Hospital is still ongoing.

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Court Approves Compensation for Birth Injuries due to Alleged Negligence

The Irish High Court has approved an €800,000 interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence in favour of a 10-year-old boy.

On 30th September 2004, Luke Beirne was born at the Midlands Regional Hospital eleven days past his due date. Due to alleged negligence prior to his birth, Luke was deprived of oxygen in the womb and suffered brain damage. Now suffering from cerebral palsy, asthma and multiple allergies, Luke will require surgery and extra therapy as he gets older due to his muscles tightening.

Through his mother – Margaret Beirne from Mullingar in County Westmeath – Luke claimed compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence against the Health Service Executive (HSE), claiming that a failure to monitor the foetal heartbeat led to Luke´s injuries. Margaret also alleged that her consultant obstetrician – David Mortell – had not discussed the risks associated with a vaginal birth.

The HSE and the consultant obstetrician denied the allegations, but made an offer of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence amounting to €800,000. The offer was made without an admission of liability or an apology, and is intended to provide care and treatment for Luke until he reaches eighteen years of age and his future needs can be reassessed.

Margaret´s solicitors recommended that she accept the interim offer of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence, and the proposed settlement went to the High Court to be approved by a judge. At the hearing, Margaret told Mr Justice Michael Moriarty that she entrusted the court to make the right decision for Luke and his future.

She said that she was concerned that the offer of interim compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence was not realistic and would not be sufficient to pay for Luke´s future care needs. Margaret told Judge Moriarty that midwives were “chatting in the corridor” rather than monitoring her condition, and that a locked theatre room delayed Luke´s delivery – exacerbating his injuries.

Judge Moriarty heard that, if the case went to trial, the HSE and consultant obstetrician would testify that everything that could have been done in the circumstances to prevent Luke suffering birth injuries was done. The judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged – saying that it was in Luke´s best interests considering the possibility that, if the case went to a full trial, it could be found in the defendant´s favour.

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Claim for the Failure to Diagnose Hypoglycaemia Resolved at High Court

A claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia was resolved yesterday at the High Court with claimant securing a lifetime care settlement.

Ben Harman was born at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in April 2002, underweight and floppy due to extremely low blood sugar levels. Despite displaying the symptoms of low blood sugar levels, staff at the hospital failed to perform the blood glucose tests that should have been conducted under NHS protocol until two days after his birth, allowing Ben´s condition to deteriorate further.

Ben was administered dextrose once his condition had been identified but, when he was discharged on 17th April 2002, his parents were not told that he had potentially suffered a hypoglycaemic injury or what its consequences were. Consequently, when Ben failed to develop as quickly as his older brother had, his parents were concerned but attributed his disabilities to one of life´s cruelties.

After Ben was diagnosed with autism in 2006, his parents applied for a blue handicapped badge for their car. It was only when they were asked to support the application with medical evidence that they became aware of the medical negligence that had caused their son´s brain damage. They sought legal advice and made a claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia on behalf of their son.

The East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust initially denied its liability for Ben´s devastating injuries, and continued to do so until July 2013. Thereafter, the NHS Trust would not agree to any settlement package proposed by the family´s solicitors – suggesting instead that Ben would better served by a life in institutional care. Consequently the claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia went to the High Court to be resolved.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Turner rejected the argument that Ben should spend the rest of his life in institutional care and ordered the NHS Trust to pay for Ben´s fees at a specialist boarding school – Prior’s Court in Hermitage, Berkshire. His parents will take over responsibility for his care when Ben is twenty-five years of age.

The final settlement of the family´s claim for the failure to diagnose hypoglycaemia will be announced shortly. It will consist of a lump sum payment so that Ben´s parents can adopt their home in order to make it suitable for when Ben visits at weekends, and annual index-linked payments so that Ben is assured of the care that he needs for the rest of his life.

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Woman Settles Claim for the Misdiagnosis of Breast Cancer while Another One Begins

A woman, who underwent an unnecessary double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, has settled her claim for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer.

The unnamed woman was incorrectly diagnosed with breast cancer after her treating consultant reviewed the mammogram scans from another patient by mistake. The treating consultant told the woman that her non-invasive breast cancer was serious and that she needed urgent surgery.

The consequences of being diagnosed with breast cancer understandably caused terrible personal problems for the woman. The relationship with her husband suffered to the point where their marriage broke up and her previously successful business collapsed.

A mix-up in the order that patients were called into the treating room was later identified as being responsible for the error, but it was only after the woman had undergone an unnecessary double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery that she was informed of the mistake.

After seeking legal advice, the woman made a claim for the misdiagnosis if breast cancer against the Norfolk and Norwich NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust´s investigation confirmed where the mistake had occurred and a settlement of £150,000 was negotiated.

The woman´s claim for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer due to the mix-up of patient notes is the second such event to have happened in as many months. In April, Elizabeth Dawes (39) from Stafford also discovered she had undergone unnecessary surgery for breast cancer that had been misdiagnosed due to a mix-up of patient notes.

Elizabeth unnecessarily underwent a lumpectomy and bilateral breast lift at the New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after being incorrectly diagnosed with a grade 3 invasive tumour in her breast, and was so traumatised by the event that she has had to give up her job.

In Elizabeth´s case, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has already apologised “unreservedly” for the mistake and has conducted an investigation to ensure that no other patients were affected by the error. The settlement of Elizabeth´s claim for the misdiagnosis of breast cancer is still under discussion.

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Settlement of Claim for the Failure to Act on Pre-Birth Scans Approved in Court

The settlement of a claim for the failure to act on pre-birth scans has been approved in favour of a seven year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy.

Kit van Berckel was born at the Harrogate District Hospital ten days overdue on 31st May 2008. In the run up to his birth, medical staff continually failed to correctly interpret and act on pre-birth scans that indicated Kit was suffering foetal distress in his mother´s womb. When Kit was delivered, no heartbeat was recorded and he needed resuscitating.

Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Kit suffered a significant brain injury and was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. He is unable to sit without help, has no independent mobility and cannot feed himself. Despite being unable to speak, Kit attends a mainstream school, where he uses eye gaze technology and other hi-tech systems to communicate.

Through his parents – Joanna and Charles Berckel from Harrogate in North Yorkshire – Kit made a claim for the failure to act on pre-birth scans, alleging that his injuries were attributable to the negligence of the staff at Harrogate District Hospital. Following an investigation by the Harrogate Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, there was a full admission of liability.

Over the following months, a care and rehabilitation package was negotiated – although Kit will remain living with his parents at their specially constructed home in Harrogate. The full value of the settlement of the claim for the failure to act on pre-birth scans is calculated to be worth £9.872 million, and earlier this week the settlement was approved at the Leeds High Court.

After the approval hearing, Kit´s mother said: “We were devastated and heartbroken when we found out that Kit’s condition could have been avoided if mistakes had not been made during his delivery.  There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of accountability and management procedures to minimise the opportunity of negligence caused by medical staff.”

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Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for Brain Damage due to Syntocinon

Dublin High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon and the failure to monitor once it had been administered.

Syntocinon is the brand name of the synthetic drug oxytocin. It is frequently used in maternity wards to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many expectant mothers Syntocinon has the benefits of reducing the length of time they spend in labour and helping the womb to contract after childbirth.

However, when Syntocinon is being administered, both mother and child have to be carefully Syntocinon is listed as one of ten “high-alert medications” because of the adverse reactions it has with with other medication and because it can escalate foetal distress when a baby is deprived of oxygen.

On 20th July 2007, Patrick Brannigan was delivered by emergency Caesarean Section at the Cavan General Hospital in a very poor condition. Prior to his delivery a CTG scan had indicated signs of foetal distress, yet his mother – Niamh – had been administered Syntocinon to accelerate her labour.

The administration of Syntocinon had the effect of escalating Patrick´s distress in the womb, due to which he was deprived of oxygen and born suffering from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Now seven years old, Patrick has no means of communication and is confined to a wheelchair.

On her son´s behalf, Niamh Brannigan claimed compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon, alleging that the labour accelerant should not have been administered after the CTG scan had indicated signs of foetal distress.

Niamh also claimed that there was a failure to monitor the foetal heartrate while she was in labour and that Patrick´s birth at the Cavan General Hospital was mismanaged. Following an investigation into the claims, Cavan General Hospital admitted that a “catalogue of errors” had resulted in Niamh and Patrick receiving a sub-standard level of healthcare.

The hospital issued an apology to the family and an interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon amounting to €2.1 million was agreed, subject to the settlement being approval as in Patrick´s best interests by a judge.

Consequently at the Dublin High Court, the circumstances leading up to Patrick´s birth were retold to Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The judge heard that Patrick is a cheerful, good humoured boy who is cared for full-time by his parents. Judge Cross approved the interim settlement of compensation for brain damage due to Syntocinon and adjourned the hearing for three years for an assessment of Patrick´s future needs to be made.

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Settlement Package for Severe Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Claim Approved in Court

A settlement package for a severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim has been approved at Birmingham High Court in favour of a seven-year-old boy.

In 2002, Daniel Spencer was born at the Royal Worcester Hospital in poor condition after his mother -Sue – had suffered a ruptured placenta during labour and Daniel was deprived of oxygen in the womb. Due to the lack of oxygen, Daniel suffered brain damage and was diagnosed with severe athetoid cerebral palsy after his birth.

As a result of his birth injuries, Daniel has limited use of his arms and legs. He is unable to walk independently, has significant learning disabilities and will require twenty-four hour care for the rest of his life. Despite his disabilities, Daniel is described by his parents as a “wonderful boy” who continues to amaze them with the progress he makes.

Through his father – Oliver Spencer of Malvern in Worcestershire – Daniel made a severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim against the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, alleging that his injuries could have been avoided if the foetal heartrate had been properly monitored during his mother´s labour and during his delivery.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust admitted 75% liability for Daniel´s birth injuries and a settlement of the severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim was negotiated, consisting of a £2.7 million lump sum payment and annual index-linked payments of £116,000 – rising to £157,000 when Daniel reaches eighteen years of age.

As the severe athetoid cerebral palsy claim was made on behalf of a child, it had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Daniel´s best interests. The approval hearing took place at Birmingham High Court, where the settlement was approved, after which Daniel´s father told the media:

“We were devastated when we found out that Daniel’s condition could have been avoided had mistakes not been made during his birth. It’s a huge relief knowing that the settlement will provide for a secure future for Daniel and that his specialist care needs will be met for the rest of his life. While we will always help out where we can, he needs the support of experts in the field who can help him to achieve as independent a life as possible.”

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Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Administer Vitamin K Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth – calculated to be worth £7.38 million – has been approved in the High Court.

The claimant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was born at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 1989 with a low level of Vitamin K – a usually naturally occurring vitamin that the body needs to accelerate blood coagulation and bind calcium in bones and other tissues.

At the time of his birth, it was mandatory for a Vitamin K injection to be administered in these circumstances; but, as neither the midwife nor attending doctor had a dose with them, the decision was made not to administer the injection without any discussion with the child´s mother about the associated risks.

Three months later the boy was readmitted to Luton and Dunstable Hospital after developing a cold-like illness with a high-pitched cry. The boy was not feeding well and had also developed a squint. He underwent several tests before being transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where it was discovered he had suffered a brain haemorrhage and acute hydrocephalus.

The injuries were irreversible, and the claimant grew up with numerous physical and cognitive disabilities. He now requires twenty-four hour care and, in order that his long-term security was assured, his parents made a claim for compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth against the Secretary of State for Health.

Through the NHS, liability for the claimant´s injuries was admitted and a settlement of compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth was worked out with the NHS Litigation Authority. At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Judge Michael Yelton was told that the settlement comprised of a lump sum payment of £2.345 million, with further index-linked payment being made annually.

The judge approved the settlement of compensation for the failure to administer Vitamin K at birth, which will give the claimant access to a range of specialist support, including ensuring he can live in specially adapted accommodation and benefit from the around-the-clock care he requires.

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Medical Negligence Claim for a Mishandled Birth Heard in Court

A High Court judge has adjourned a medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth for solicitors to work out how much compensation a twelve-year-old boy should receive.

James Robshaw was born at the Lincoln County Hospital in 2002 after a CTG trace indicating an abnormal foetal heartbeat was ignored by medical staff. Due to the oversight, James was delivered by Caesarean Section much later than he should have been and due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, now suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Through his mother – Suzanne Adams – James made a medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth against the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who failed to acknowledge liability for James´ birth injuries until 2009. An interim payment of compensation was paid to Suzanne while negotiations were conducted to agree a final settlement.

Unfortunately, solicitors working towards a final settlement of James´ medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth could not agree on how much compensation the young boy was entitled to. Solicitors representing James believed he should receive a lump sum payment of £11.2 million plus index-linked annual payments, while NHS solicitors would not agree to a lump sum payment beyond £7.45 million.

The medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth went to the High Court in London, where it was heard by Mr Justice Foskett. The judge was told of the problems in resolving the medical negligence claim for a mishandled birth and ruled on the key issues that were preventing the claim from being finally resolved. Judge Foskett sent the two parties away to reassess their calculations, and to return after Easter with an acceptable agreement.

At the hearing, the court also heard an apology read to Suzanne and James by Pauline pratt – Acting Chief Nurse at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. In the apology Ms Pratt said: “United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS Litigation Authority are deeply sorry for what happened and for the impact this has had upon James and his family”.

She continued: “The trust accepted, in 2009, liability for the injuries which James sustained during his birth some 12 years ago. Although we cannot turn back the clock, we hope that the compensation, once agreed, will provide the reassurance that James’ future care needs will be met.”

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