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.