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.

Birth Injuries Compensation Case Resolved at Supreme Court

A landmark birth injuries compensation case against the NHS has been resolved at the Supreme Court in London in favour of a mother and her severely disabled child.

Sam Montgomery was born at the Bellshill Maternity Hospital on October 1st 1999, having been deprived of oxygen during his delivery. Sam´s problems started when his shoulder became trapped in his mother´s birth canal after the delivery of his head. Sam suffered shoulder dystocia and – after a 12-minute procedure to release his shoulder – he had to be resuscitated.

The deprivation of oxygen during the release procedure caused Sam to suffer brain damage and he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Now, at age 15, Sam has limited communication skills and still suffers from the nerve damage he sustained during his delivery – which affects his shoulder, arm and hand.

On Sam´s behalf, his mother – Nadine – made a claim for medical negligence compensation against NHS Lanarkshire. Nadine alleged in her claim that her consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist – Dr Dina McLellan – had failed to warn her of the risks associated with a natural birth when Nadine was a petite woman with Type 1 diabetes.

When the birth injuries compensation case went to the Outer House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the court heard that women with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to have bigger babies and that Nadine had expressed concerns during her pregnancy about delivering the baby safely. The court also heard that Nadine was not given the option of a Caesarean Section birth despite a CTG trace showing the size of her son.

In their defence of the birth injuries compensation case, lawyers representing NHS Lanarkshire said that the consultant´s duty to advise the risks involved in a natural delivery would have been triggered if there was a high probability of a grave adverse outcome. As there was only a 9%-10% of shoulder dystocia occurring, Dr McLellan chose not to advise Nadine of the risks.

Despite Nadine testifying that she would have chosen a Caesarean Section procedure over a natural birth if she had been advised of the risks, the Outer House of the Court of Session found in the consultant´s favour, as did the Inner House when Nadine appealed the verdict. Undeterred, Nadine took her birth injuries compensation case to the Supreme Court in London, where Dr McLellan told the court that, in her view, it was “not in the maternal interests for women to have Caesarean Sections”.

The Supreme Court judges disagreed with the consultant and said that social and legal developments “point away from the relationship between the doctor and patient based on medical paternalism”. The judges ruled that Dr McLellan was wrong to put her personal views ahead of the course of treatment that Nadine underwent and ruled that a doctor has a duty of reasonable care to ensure that patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment.

Lord Kerr and Lord Reed – the judges who delivered the Supreme Court´s verdict – commented “There can be no doubt that it was incumbent on Dr McLellan to advise Mrs Montgomery of the risk of shoulder dystocia if she were to have her baby by vaginal delivery, and to discuss with her the alternative of delivery by caesarean section.”

The Supreme Court awarded Nadine £5.25 million compensation for the birth injuries that Sam had suffered and said it would be a mistake to view patients in the modern world as “uninformed, incapable of understanding medical matters or wholly dependent upon a flow of information from doctors”.

The decision by the Supreme Court is significant as it acknowledges a patient´s right to decide upon the level of risk they wish to take given all the information available. It means that patients will have to be provided with information about possible alternative treatments and their risk factors before being considered to have given their “informed consent” prior to undergoing a medical procedure.

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Settlement of Claim for Birth Injuries due to an Undiagnosed Antepartum Haemorrhage

A judge at Dublin High Court has approved the final settlement of a compensation claim for birth injuries due to an undiagnosed antepartum haemorrhage.

Marlis Flood had a medical history of antepartum haemorrhaging prior to attending the Rotunda Hospital on March 30th 2006 complaining of an abdominal pain. Marlis – who was near her delivery date – was admitted into the hospital, but discharged three days later.

On April 3rd, Marlis returned to the hospital again complaining about her pain, but was sent home – only to return the following day when her pain got worse. An examination revealed that Marlis was dilated, she was admitted and her daughter Caoimhe was born later that evening.

However, due to an alleged failure to address Marlis´ concerns about abdominal pains when she had a history of antepartum haemorrhaging, and an alleged avoidable delay in delivering her child, Caoimhe suffered hypoxia in the womb and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was born.

For the first year of her life, Caoimhe had to be fed via a tube and will she will require full-time care for the rest of her life as she is a spastic quadriplegic. On her daughter´s behalf, Marlis made a claim for birth injuries due to an undiagnosed antepartum haemorrhage against the Rotunda Hospital.

Liability for Caoimhe´s birth injuries was denied; but in 2012, the hospital agreed to a €1.3 million interim settlement of compensation without an admission of liability. This week, the claim for birth injuries due to an undiagnosed antepartum haemorrhage returned to Dublin High Court for a final settlement of the claim to be approved.

At the approval hearing, Mr Justice Bernard Barton was told the circumstances leading up to Caoimhe´s birth and the consequences of the hospital´s alleged negligence. The judge approved the €2.6 million final settlement of Caoimhe´s claim for birth injuries due to an undiagnosed antepartum haemorrhage, saying that he was very relieved for the Flood family that the claim had finally and completely been resolved.

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Court Approves £10 Million Compensation for Birth Injuries to Seven-Year-Old Girl

The High Court in London has approved a packaged settlement of compensation for birth injuries – with an estimated value of £10 million – in favour of an eight-year-old girl.

Ayla Ellison was born at the Furness General Hospital in Cumbria in April 2007 after having been starved of oxygen in the womb. During her emergency delivery, Ayla suffered further injuries due to medical negligence including a severe haemorrhage in the womb.

Now seven years of age, Ayla has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy and has to be fed by a tube because she is effectively blind. Ayla´s body is incapable of controlling its body temperature, and she suffers muscle spasms that leave her in intense pain that can only be alleviated by immersion in a hydrotherapy pool.

On Ayla´s behalf, her father – Daniel – made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust who, in 2012, acknowledged the mismanagement of Ayla´s delivery. Talks commenced about how much compensation for birth injuries Ayla was entitled to and, when an agreement was reached, the case went to the High Court in London for the settlement to be approved.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Warby heard an apology read to the family from the medical director of the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust – David Walker. Mr Walker said that the Trust was sorry for the harm caused to Ayla and the distress caused to her family as a result of issues arising from her birth.

The judge also heard that the family was moving to London for Daniel Ellison´s job as a consultant engineer, and that part of the settlement included £1.7 million for the family to buy a home with a hydrotherapy pool in Richmond. The judge said “I have no hesitation in accepting that the stated intention of Carla and Daniel Elliston to move to London to build a new family life there is a sincere, genuine and heartfelt one.”

Mr Justice Warby was told that the remainder of the settlement included an immediate lump sum payment of £295,000 and annual tax-free, index-linked payments of £225,000 – rising to £290,000 when Ayla turns eighteen. The judge approved the settlement – estimated to have a total value of £10 million – commending Daniel and Carla Ellison for the “calm and intelligent” way in which they had dealt with the tragedy.

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Interim Settlement of Cerebral Palsy Claim against Kerry Hospital Approved in Court

An interim settlement of a cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital has been approved at the Dublin High Court in favour of a three year old girl.

On 22nd April 2011, Skye Worthington was born at the Kerry General Hospital in a distressed state after her mother – Colleen – had been administered the drug Syntocinon to accelerate her labour. Although the artificial drug had speeded up Colleen´s contractions, the administration of the drug had resulted in Skye suffering hypoxia in the womb.

Due to a lack of oxygen in the womb, Skye was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after she was born. Skye has difficulty sitting up, has to be fed through a tube, and can only communicate by using her eyes. An investigation into how Skye´s birth was managed revealed that if she had been born just fifteen minutes sooner, she would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

On her daughter´s behalf, Colleen Worthington from Castlegregory in County Kerry made a cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital and the Health Service Executive. The Health Service Executive acknowledged the errors that had been made in the management of Skye´s birth and an interim settlement of €2.32 million compensation was negotiated.

As the interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital had been made on behalf of a child, the settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Skye´s best interests. Therefore, at the Dublin High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was made aware of the circumstances of Skye´s birth and the consequences of her injury.

At the hearing, Skye´s parents were also read a statement in which Kerry General Hospital and the Health Service Executive apologised unreservedly for the errors in the management of Skye´s birth. The apology added that lessons had been learned from the investigation into Skye´s birth which her parents had participated in and which had helped clarify a number of important issues.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross explained to Skye´s parents that the interim settlement of the claim for cerebral palsy against Kerry Hospital was a temporary settlement to allow an assessment to be conducted over the next three years for Skye´s future needs. Once the assessment is completed, the family will have the option of annual periodic payments – subject to legislation being passed – or be able to take a lump sum payment in final settlement of the cerebral palsy claim against Kerry Hospital.

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Judge Awards Interim Settlement of Compensation for a Mismanaged Birth

A High Court judge in Dublin has awarded a four year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy an interim settlement of compensation for a mismanaged birth.

On 9th July 2010, Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital “neurologically compromised” having been deprived of oxygen in the womb. Kevin spent more than three weeks in the hospital´s intensive care department and, now suffering from cerebral palsy, can only walk short distances unaided.

On Kevin´s behalf a claim for compensation for a mismanaged birth was made against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by his mother – Jane Dunphy from Mooncoin in County Kilkenny. It was alleged in the legal action that Kevin´s injuries could have been avoided if he had been properly monitored and delivered an hour earlier.

According to court papers, a foetal blood sample had been taken at 1:40am on the morning of Kevin´s birth, but not subsequent to a decrease in his heartrate being recorded at 2:30am. It was claimed that, if a second foetal blood sample had been taken, a decision would have been made to intervene with the birth and Kevin would have been delivered by emergency Caesarean Section.

In 2013, the HSE admitted that there had been errors made in the treatment that Jane Dunphy had received and that the hospital had breached its duty of care by failing to effect a timely delivery. Liability was conceded and the HSE settled claims made by Kevin´s parents for emotional distress before Kevin´s claim went to the High Court for an assessment of compensation for a mismanaged birth.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met with Kevin privately in his chambers and learned that Kevin is at pre-school and, when he goes to school full-time, it is hoped that he will be able to join a mainstream class. Judge Cross described Kevin as “a lovely little lad”, and he praised the efforts put into raising him by his parents.

Judge Cross awarded Kevin an interim settlement of €2 million compensation for a mismanaged birth and adjourned the case for four years to enable a fuller assessment of Kevin´s future needs. When the case is reconvened, Kevin´s parents will have the option of choosing between a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement if legislation is passed in time for the introduction of a periodic payments system.

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Erb´s Palsy Compensation Settlement Approved at Dublin High Court

A €250,000 Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement has been approved at the Dublin High Court for a girl who suffered an avoidable brachial plexus birth injury.

Keelan Murray was born at the National Maternity Hospital in January 2004 after an obstetric emergency due to Keelan having shoulder dystocia – a situation in which the baby´s shoulders fail to clear the pubic symphysis. In resolving the shoulder dystocia situation, excessive force was used to extract the shoulders, resulting in Keelan suffering an avoidable brachial plexus injury.

Damaged brachial plexus nerves can heal themselves during the early months of a child´s life, but sometimes the damage is permanent – as in Keelan´s case – when the condition becomes known as Erb´s Palsy. Now eleven years old, Keelan is unable to make full use of her right arm due to the nerve damage she sustained and has had to learn how to write with her left hand.

Keelan underwent an operation to repair the injury in 2012, but surgery failed to improve her condition. Through her mother – Sharon Murray of Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow – Keelan made a claim for Erb´s Palsy compensation against the National Maternity Hospital, alleging that traction was inappropriately used to enable her delivery after shoulder dystocia had been identified.

The National Maternity Hospital denied that Keelan´s condition had been caused by medical negligence but offered an Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement of €250,000 without an admission of liability. Keelan´s mother accepted the offer on advice from her solicitor, but as the Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement was in respect of a claim made on behalf of a child, it had to be approved by a judge to ensure that it was in Keelan´s best interest.

The approval hearing took place at the Dublin High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told how Keelan is a bright young girl who still manages to participate in sports despite her disability. Judge Cross agreed with Keelan´s solicitor that it would be prudent to accept the proposed Erb´s Palsy compensation settlement in the circumstances and he approved it – wishing Keelan well for the future as he closed the case.

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Compensation Claim against Kings College Hospital Resolved with £10.1M Settlement

A compensation claim against Kings College Hospital made on behalf of a girl who was starved of oxygen at birth has been resolved at the High Court in London.

Eva Totham from South-East London was born at the Kings College Hospital in October 2007 after having been starved of oxygen in the womb. As a result of the medical staff´s negligence, Eva (now seven years of age) suffers from cerebral palsy which affects all four of her limbs and is unable to speak.

Although able to attend a mainstream school with one-to-one support, Eva suffers from dramatic moods swings brought about by her frustration at not being able to communicate. These mood swings affect her learning and have a disruptive influence on family life.

Eva´s parents made a compensation claim against the Kings College Hospital NHS Trust who, after an investigation into the events of Eva´s birth, acknowledged a failing in the established standard of care prior to Eva´s delivery.

However, the NHS Trust disputed how much compensation was being claimed by the family for Eva´s pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of her life in the future. The NHS Trust set a cap of £8.7 million and the compensation claim against Kings College Hospital proceeded to the High Court.

At the hearing, Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing was shown a DVD of a day in Eva´s life. She also heard how Eva´s parents – Sarah and Dean – were successful professionals and it was highly likely that Eva would have gone to university and followed a professional career.

In court Eva was described as a beautiful, engaging child; and Judge Laing agreed with this appraisal – writing in her ruling that “I had a strong sense of an energetic, inquisitive mind trapped in a body that will not do what Eva would wish it could do.”

The judge awarded Eva £10.1 million in settlement of her compensation claim against Kings College Hospital, which will cover the costs of her past and future care and compensate Eva for her future loss of earnings.

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Couple Claim Compensation for the Failure to Identify Foetal Distress

A couple from Essex have made a claim for compensation for the failure to identify foetal distress which led to the death of their son after his delivery.

Ami Solomons Hodges (31) from Great Wakering in Essex was admitted to Southend Hospital on 28th March 2014 after Ami had suffered “a spontaneous rupture of membranes”. Her baby Frankie was delivered by Caesarean Section the following evening, but was declared dead forty-seven minutes later after medical staff had been unable to resuscitate him.

An inquest into baby Frankie´s death recorded a verdict of perinatal asphyxia due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck and starving him of oxygen. The coroner at the inquest commented that “a more timely intervention would have probably resulted in a better outcome” and that Frankie´s death was contributed to by neglect.

An internal investigation conducted by Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust concluded that, although Frankie´s heart rate was monitored, staff failed to identify foetal distress and bring his delivery forward accordingly. It was also noted that a shift handover could have been a contributory factor in Frankie´s death.

Ami and her partner Russell Lee have now instructed solicitors to claim compensation for the failure to identify foetal distress. Ami said: I have always believed that had medical staff listened to my concerns and monitored Frankie’s condition more closely, Frankie would have been delivered sooner than he was and he would be still with us today.”

The medical director for the NHS Trust – Neil Rothnie – issued a statement in which he extended his condolences to Ami and Russell and said that “positive changes” including enhanced heart monitoring training had been implemented since Frankie´s death. He said: “We appreciate the inquest was very difficult for Frankie’s family and we would like to assure them that lessons have been learnt from this very tragic case.”

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Boy Suffers Brain Damage due to Failure to Treat Jaundice

The family of a boy, who suffered brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice, is launching legal action against the hospital in which he was born.

On April 15th 2013, Laura-Faye Gold from Honiton in Devon gave birth to a son – Khan – at the Exeter Hospital. Khan was a perfectly healthy baby although, not uncommonly, he was born suffering from jaundice.

Khan and his mother were allowed home the following day and during the next four days three different midwives visited the family home in Honiton, Devon to check on baby Khan´s progress. Laura-Faye raised concerns about her son´s jaundice, but on each occasion was told it was nothing to worry about.

However, on April 20th 2013, Laura-Faye had problems feeding Khan and noticed that her son was arching his back as if in pain. She called her local hospital, which took a blood sample and advised Khan´s parents to take him back to Exeter Hospital to have the sample analysed.

Khan was diagnosed with kernicterus – a condition caused by the underdeveloped liver failing to remove bilirubin from the bloodstream – and transferred to intensive care. Khan was given an immediate blood transfusion, but the bilirubin that his liver had failed to remove from his blood stream had entered his brain and he suffered brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice.

Due to the failure to identify Khan´s illness when Laura-Faye first raised concerns about his jaundice, Khan´s brain damage is likely to be permanent and doctors are uncertain whether he will ever be able to walk.

As he is going to need support and care throughout the rest of his life, his parents have made a compensation claim for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice against the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, on the grounds that the only advice they were given by midwives prior to Khan´s admission to hospital was to expose him to the sun.

In their claim for compensation for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice, Khan´s parents allege that midwives failed to follow NHS guidelines on the treatment of newborn jaundice. They also believe that the visiting midwives should have escalated the situation in a timely way to the family´s GP or Exeter Hospital´s paediatrician.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – Angela Pedder – has written to the family apologising for the failures which led to Khan suffering brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice. Since Khan´s tragic condition was identified, key changes have been made at the hospital which include that all babies born with jaundice are now tested for kernicterus.

Solicitors representing the Gold family have also suggested that there were training issues at the hospital which need to be addressed, and have entered into negotiations with the NHS Trust to resolve the family´s claim for brain damage due to a failure to treat jaundice. The final settlement is estimated to be in seven figures.

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Judge Approves Third Interim Settlement of Compensation for Birth Injuries

A third interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries has been approved at the High Court in Dublin after a request for a full payment was denied.

Connor Corroon (now nineteen years of age) was born on 6th February 1995 at the Cork City General Hospital in a poor condition due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb. As a result of the hospital failing to monitor the foetal heartrate prior to his birth, Connor is now permanently disabled with cerebral palsy, is unable to speak and is confined to a wheelchair.

In 2010, Connor made a claim for compensation for birth injuries through his mother – Judith Corroon from Mallow in County Cork. Cork City General Hospital admitted that Connor and his mother had experienced a poor standard of care and a €1.6 million interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries was approved – pending the introduction of a periodic payment system. Connor´s was the first case to be dealt with in this way.

Last year, a second interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries amounting to €475,000 was approved at the High Court in Dublin and a third interim settlement was recently due. On Connor´s behalf, Judith Corroon appealed to the High Court that this third interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries should be a full and final payment, rather than wait for legislation to be passed for periodic payments.

At the High Court, Judith explained to Mr Justice Bernard Barton that Connor has to undergo a series of assessments prior to each court appearance, and she wanted her son to be able to get on with his life and go to college. Under the current system of interim compensation settlements, Connor undergoes more than twenty assessments each time an interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries is due.

Judge Barton denied the request for a full settlement of compensation – stating that it would be catastrophic for Connor if the High Court were to approve a final settlement and the funds run out later in his life. He also explained to Judith that he had recently received a consultation paper relating to proposed legislation that aims to introduce a periodic payment system next year.

After hearing the judge´s explanation, Judith agreed to a third interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries. Judge Barton approved the settlement of €1.45 million and adjourned Connor´s case for a further five years.

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