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.

Court Hears Misuse of Syntocinon Resulted in Birth Injuries

The Dublin High Court has heard that the misuse of syntocinon resulted in birth injuries to a young girl who now suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Grace Orchard (8) from Carrigaline in County Cork was born at St Finbarr´s Maternity Hospital on 23rd February 2006. Prior to her delivery, her mother had been administered the drug syntocinon to speed up her contractions.

However, syntocinon also has the effect of exacerbating foetal distress and rather than conduct a Caesarean section on her mother, Grace was delivered by forceps after four previous attempts to bring her into the world – including one using a vacuum cup – had failed.

Grace had to be resuscitated after she was born, and was in a poor condition due to the trauma she had suffered in the womb. She was subsequently diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy which – according to her solicitor – was attributable to “appalling poor handling” by hospital staff during her delivery.

Through her mother – Deidre O´Callaghan – Grace made a compensation claim against St Finbarr´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE); alleging that the misuse of syntocinon resulted in birth injuries.

The HSE admitted responsibility for Grace´s birth injuries two weeks before a court hearing to determine liability was scheduled to commence. Consequently the case proceeded for the assessment of damages only.

Describing the circumstances of Grace´s birth as a “tragedy”, Grace´s solicitor told Mr Justice Daniel Herbert at Dublin High Court that Grace had been left in a catastrophic position and that the HSE should apologise for the misuse of syntocinon that resulted in birth injuries.

The Court heard that Grace´s family did everything they could for her during her early years – including taking her to a specialist centre in New York for physiotherapy – and that Grace had been accepted into mainstream school, but the services available to her are being reduced due to cut-backs. The case was adjourned for a full assessment of Grace´s future requirements to be made.

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Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for the Failure to Act on a CTG Trace

The Dublin High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for the failure to act on a CTG trace that resulted in a young girl suffering brain damage.

Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital on November 9th 2000 – the same day as her mother – Fiona – had been admitted to the hospital complaining of having irregular contractions.

Fiona underwent a CTG trace when she was first admitted to the hospital that indicated Katie was distressed in the womb. However, it took nearly 90 minutes for staff at the hospital to act on the results of the CTG trace and organise an emergency Caesarean Section.

When Katie was born, she showed no signs of life having suffered a cardiac arrest in the womb. She was resuscitated, but Katie – now thirteen years of age – had suffered serious brain damage as the result of being deprived of oxygen, and she will need twenty-four hour care for the rest of her life.

On her daughter´s behalf, Fiona Martin claimed compensation for the failure to act on a CTG trace against the Coombe Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that if the Caesarean section had been organised sooner, Katie would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

Liability for Katie´s injuries was contested and a full defence against the claim was prepared; in which it was alleged that Katie was starved of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital and when it was too late to prevent Katie suffering brain damage.

However, at the Dublin High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that a settlement of €4 million compensation for the failure to act on a CTG trace had been agreed without the hospital admitting liability for Katie´s injuries.

Judge Irvine was told that the case was before her for the approval of the settlement and, after hearing the circumstances surrounding Katie´s birth, approved the settlement – commenting that it was a good one considering that the case had been contested by the defendant.

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Family Settle Claim for the Failure to Treat pre-Eclampsia

A family has settled a compensation claim for the failure to treat pre-eclampsia that resulted in the wrongful death of a wife and mother.

On 20th September 2010, Dhara Kivlehan (29) was admitted to Sligo General Hospital for the birth of her first child. At the time of her admission, Dhara was two weeks passed her due date and exhibiting symptoms consistent with pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure, fluid retention around the feet and ankles (oedema) and abnormal quantities of protein in her urine.

Blood tests conducted on Dhara indicated that she had abnormal liver and kidney functions (further indicators of pre-eclampsia), but the results of the blood test were not communicated to Dhara´s doctors for twelve hours. The morning following her admission, Dhara gave birth to her son – Dior – and was transferred to a side room.

It was during the thirty-six hours that Dhara spent in the side room that her condition deteriorated. She was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Sligo General Hospital at 4.45pm on the day after giving birth to her son; but, at 11.00pm that night, Dhara´s condition became critical. She was air-lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she died of multiple organ failure four days later.

Dhara´s husband – Michael Kivlehan from Dromahair, County Sligo – made a compensation claim for the failure to treat pre-eclampsia; alleging that the treatment Dhara received in the side room had been inadequate due to a lack of communication and a failure to act. Sligo General Hospital denied that there had been a failure to acknowledge the significance of Dhara´s deterioration or to treat her condition appropriately, and a date for a High Court hearing was scheduled.

Shortly before Michael´s claim for the failure to treat pre-eclampsia was due to be heard, the Health Service Executive admitted that there had been shortcomings in the care provided for Dhara at Sligo General Hospital and a settlement of compensation was negotiated. As part of the settlement, Michael insisted that an apology to the family be read aloud in court.

Consequently, at Dublin High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard the circumstances of Dhara´s wrongful death and that Michael´s claim for the failure to treat pre-eclampsia had been settled for €800,000. The apology from the HSE was then read out to the family. Before closing the hearing Judge Irvine expressed her sympathy to Michael and Dior and criticised the HSE for “holding out until almost the bitter end” before admitting liability and for causing the family unnecessary distress.

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Settlement of Claim for Cerebral Palsy Birth Injuries Approved by Judge

A judge at Dublin High Court has approved the settlement of a claim for cerebral palsy birth injuries and criticised the State Claims Agency for taking so long to resolve the case.

On 22nd July 2007, Dylan Gaffney was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in a poor condition after an emergency Caesarean Section had been performed on his mother – Jean. Dylan´s birth injuries were exacerbated by there being no paediatrician immediately available to provide adequate resuscitation and he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb.

Dylan´s mother had previously requested a Caesarean Section delivery for Dylan, as her first daughter had been born by emergency C-Section after 51 hours of labour, and she had miscarried a second child. Her obstetrician had dissuaded her from having one, despite an ultrasound two days before Dylan´s birth indicating that he weighed nine pounds, four ounces.

On the day of Dylan´s birth, Jean Gaffney had been admitted into the hospital in the morning after her waters spontaneously burst. She was administered Syntocinon to accelerate her contractions, but this had the effect of increasing the level of distress Dylan was experiencing in the womb. Rather than conduct an emergency Caesarean Section immediately, medical staff at the hospital waited until after 2.00pm in the afternoon to deliver Dylan.

After seeking legal advice, Jean – from Kilcohan Park in Waterford – made a compensation claim for cerebral palsy birth injuries on behalf of her son against the Waterford Regional Hospital and the Health Service executive (HSE). Jean´s solicitor followed up the claim by writing to the State Claims Agency with the evidence of negligence supporting the claim, but the State Claims Agency denied that there had been negligence and refused to consider Jean´s compensation claim for cerebral palsy birth injuries.

Court proceedings were issued while Jean and her partner – Thomas Hayes – put their lives aside to care for Dylan. But shortly before the compensation claim for cerebral palsy birth injuries was due to be heard, liability was admitted and negotiations commenced to agree a financial settlement.

At the Dublin High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that a lump sum payment of €8.5 million had been agreed to settle the claim for cerebral palsy birth injuries. Judge Irvine approved the settlement, but criticised the conduct of the State Claims Agency for the delay in admitting liability, and causing additional stress for Dylan and his family. She said that this was the second case within a week where the actions of the State Claims Agency were “highly regrettable”.

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Girl to Receive Compensation for Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy due to a Mismanaged Birth

A twelve year old girl is to receive €2.3 million compensation for dyskinetic cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth after a hearing at Dublin High Court.

On 10th November 2001, heavily-pregnant Mary Conroy attended the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise believing that her waters had broken. After being reassured that they had not, and everything was fine, Mary was discharge from the hospital and returned home.

Three days later, Mary attended the clinic of Dr John Corristine – her personal consultant obstetrician – and, following an ultrasound, insisted she be admitted into hospital. A further CTG scan at the Midland Regional Hospital failed to show any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath.

Unfortunately no hot water was available at the hospital, so Dr Corristine advised that Syntocinon be administered to encourage Mary´s contractions. Roisin was delivered the following morning, but shortly after her birth she started to suffer seizures and was transferred to a hospital in Dublin with adequate neo-natal facilities.

Roisin´s conditions failed to improve and she was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy; due to which Roisin (now 12 years old) is permanently disabled and can only communicate through her eyes. Mary Conroy blamed herself for Roisin´s injuries, and insisted on having her next two children delivered by Caesarean Section.

Mary and Kevin Conroy both gave up their jobs to care for their daughter; believing for many years that nothing could have been done to prevent Roisin´s condition and that they had been “just unlucky”. However, after speaking with a solicitor – who discovered that the administration of syntocinon had exacerbated Roisin´s foetal distress prior to her birth – the couple found out that Roisin was entitled to compensation for dyskinetic cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth.

A claim on Roisin´s behalf was made by her parents in 2011, but for two years Dr Corristine and the Health Service Executive denied liability for Roisin´s condition. Only weeks before the claim for compensation for dyskinetic cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth was due to be heard in court was liability conceded and negotiations started to agree a settlement of the claim.

At the Dublin High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine and the Conroy family heard an apology read by Dr Corristine and a representative of the HSE. In the apology both defendants said that “neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Conroy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them.”

Thereafter, Judge Irvine approved a €2.3 million interim settlement of compensation for dyskinetic cerebral palsy due to a mismanaged birth and adjourned the hearing for two years for an assessment of her future needs to be conducted. When the hearing reconvenes, it is hoped that a system of periodic payments will be available so that Roisin is assured of her financial security for the rest of her life.

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Claim for Nervous Shock after Death of Child due to Hospital Negligence Settled

A couple, who alleged that their consultant gynaecologist had mismanaged the birth of their child, have settled their claim for nervous shock after the death of their child due to hospital negligence.

Jane Farren and Feidhlimidh Wrafter from Rathgar in Dublin, made their claim for nervous shock after the death of their child due to hospital negligence following the death of their daughter Molly at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin on October 16th 2008.

Jane had been admitted to the hospital the previous day following a spontaneous membrane rupture. She was administered Syntocinon to help induce labour and, at 3.45 am the following morning, was taken to theatre to attempt a vacuum delivery.

When the vacuum delivery was unsuccessful, Molly was delivered half an hour later by emergency Caesarean Section. Unfortunately, due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Molly could not be resuscitated.

Jane and Feidhlimidh alleged that their consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician Professor Fergal Malone had failed to properly manage the labour, delivery and birth of their child; and that staff at the Rotunda Hospital had failed to identify abnormalities in the foetal heart rate in a timely manner, which – if they had – would have led to Molly being born earlier and possibly surviving.

The couple also claimed that they were misinformed during the labour and delivery process, and were led to believe after Molly´s death that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent it. Jane and Feidhlimidh also explored the possibility that Molly´s death could have been due to a genetic problem or a pre-labour trauma, despite the couple already having two perfectly healthy children.

Professor Malone and the Rotunda Hospital denied that mistakes had been made in the management of Molly´s delivery; but, shortly before a scheduled hearing at the Dublin High Court was due to commence, it was announced that the claim for nervous shock after the death of a child due to hospital negligence had been settled for €150,000 without an admission of liability, and that the case could be struck out.

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National Audit Office Reveals Cost of Maternity Medical Negligence Cover

A review by the National Audit Office has revealed that the cost of insuring against maternity medical negligence has increased to £700 for every live birth in England.

According to figures released today by the National Audit Office, the NHS spends almost £500million each year insuring against maternity medical negligence claims for when babies sustain avoidable injuries during the delivery process.

Explaining that maternity services throughout England were generally good for women and babies, the public spending watchdog said there was still a lot of scope for improvement and highlighted “wide unexplained variations” between NHS trusts in the rates of readmissions, injuries and infections.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4´s Today programme, Laura Blackwell – the Director of Health Value for Money Studies at the National Audit Office, said that the number of maternity medical negligence claims had risen significantly in recent years.

She also commented that it was difficult to assess the current state of affairs within the NHS because it takes on average four years for a maternity medical negligence claim to be settled. It is also the case that parents do not also claim immediately after an avoidable injury has occurred, and it can be some years later before a claim for maternity medical negligence compensation is initiated.

The National Audit Office highlighted that the number of compensation claims for maternity medical negligence has risen by 80% in the last five years, that the cost of insurance cover in 2012 was £482million, and the average settlement per claim was £277,000.

The watchdog attributed the volume of claims to a shortage of midwives and consultants on maternity wards – concluding that a further 2,300 midwives are required to address a national shortage which saw a quarter of maternity units closed to admission for at least half a day last year because the demand for beds outstripped capacity.

The report also commented that more than half of maternity units are not meeting the standards recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

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Compensation for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Approved in Court

A young girl, who was brain damaged at birth due to medical negligence, has had a settlement of compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy approved at Leeds High Court.

Eight year old Ruby Curtis from Garforth in West Yorkshire was born at St James Hospital in Leeds on August 28th 2005, but had been deprived of oxygen in the womb when staff at the hospital failed to notice that her mother´s uterus had ruptured.

Due to the lack of oxygen, Ruby was born with athetoid cerebral palsy – a condition which affects all four of her limbs, her head and trunk, and causes involuntary muscular movements. Ruby needs assistance in all aspects of her everyday life, including personal care, education and feeding.

Although Ruby can make sounds, she is unable to speak and uses her eyes to communicate. Following her birth, Ruby´s mother gave up work to be her full-time carer and Ruby now attends the Percy Hedley School in Killingworth which specialises in educating children with cerebral palsy.

Ruby´s parents – Steve and Lisa – made a claim for athetoid cerebral palsy compensation after seeking legal advice and, following an eight year legal battle, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that mistakes had been made during Ruby´s birth and issued a formal apology.

At the High Court in Leeds, Judge Mark Gosnell was told that a settlement of compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy had been agreed, which will see Ruby receive £2.95 million as a lump sum payment to pay for her care, education costs and special accommodation near her school, with ongoing annual tax-free payments to provide the care Ruby needs when she reaches adulthood.

Approving the settlement, Judge Mark Gosnell said he hoped that the compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy would secure “a better family life for both you and Ruby” and that the apology made by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust would give them some sense of closure.

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Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Medical Negligence at Birth

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation for medical negligence at birth after a hearing at Leeds High Court.

Judge Mark Gosnell heard how Ruby Curtis from Garforth in West Yorkshire (who is now eight years of age) was born at St James Hospital in Leeds in August 2005 after having been deprived of oxygen prior to her delivery when nursing staff at the hospital failed to notice that her mother´s uterus had ruptured.

Ruby´s delivery was subsequently delayed for longer than it should have been – during which time she suffered brain damage due to the lack of oxygen – and, as a consequence of the delay, Ruby was born suffering from athetoid cerebral palsy – a type of cerebral palsy which affects the muscle movements in Ruby´s head, body, and limbs, and has left her unable to speak coherently.

Ruby has learned to communicate using her eyes, and now attends the specialist Percy Hedley School in Killingworth; however, for the past eight years Ruby´s mother has devoted her life to raising her daughter who requires assistance in every task of everyday life; including eating, drinking, personal care and – previously – education.

After seeking legal advice, Ruby´s parents – Steve and Lisa Curtis – made a claim for compensation for medical negligence at birth on Ruby´s behalf against the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The NHS Trust initially denied their liability for Ruby´s condition but, after a long legal battle, conceded that they had “majority responsibility” for Ruby´s birth injuries.

A settlement of compensation for medical negligence at birth was negotiated between solicitors representing the Curtis family and the NHS Trust, and a lump sum of £2.95 million will now be paid into the Court of Protection on Ruby´s behalf, with further payments of compensation being paid into Ruby´s fund each year.

At the High Court in Leeds, Judge Mark Gosnell approved the settlement after an apology from the NHS Trust was read to the family. Judge Gosnell said that he hoped the apology gave the family a “sense of closure” and that the compensation settlement would provide “a better family life for both you and Ruby”.

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Compensation for NHS Brain Injury Awarded to Child

A thirteen year old boy, who developed cerebral palsy due to an alleged case of medical negligence, has been awarded £7.3 million compensation for NHS brain injury in an out-of-court settlement.

Robbie Crane (13) from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, suffered brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, behavioural problems and epilepsy following surgery at Harefield Hospital in October 1999 to treat the congenital heart problems he was born with several days earlier.

Mr Justice Tugendhat at the High Court in London heard that the complicated artery ‘switch’ surgery was successful, but Robbie suffered brain damage in a 15-hour period after the operation because a ventilator keeping him alive had not been adjusted properly. Robbie’s injuries mean he will never lead an independent life or earn his own living. He has no sense of danger and needs intensive supervision at all times.

Through his parents – Barrie and Catherine Crane – Robbie made a claim for NHS brain injury against the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, alleging that his condition was a direct result of medical negligence. The NHS Trust denied liability for his injuries, but made an offer of compensation for NHS brain injury based on 70 percent of what Robbie would have received in full settlement of his claim.

Under the out-of-court settlement, Robbie will receive a substantial lump sum immediately as well as annual, index-linked and tax-free payments to cover the costs of his care for as long as he lives. With his anticipated life expectancy, the total compensation for NHS brain injury package is valued at £7.3 million.

Although Robbie´s settlement was agreed “out-of-court”, the award still had to be approved by a judge as it related to a legal minor. After hearing the circumstances of the case and the NHS Trust´s legal representatives acknowledge that “things could have been done differently and better”, Mr Justice Tugendhat approved the settlement of compensation for NHS Brain injury – paying tribute to Robbie´s parents for the devotion they had given their son.

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