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Boyes Turner’s cerebral palsy lawyers have secured a £2.5 million settlement for a boy with mild dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
The claimant’s mother went into labour spontaneously at 41 weeks of pregnancy and, after initially being reviewed and sent home in early labour, she was admitted to hospital when her contractions increased. She was transferred to the labour ward where an epidural was set up and she was monitored by continuous CTG. After eight hours in hospital with little progress she was given syntocinon, a uterine stimulant, and this was gradually increased until her cervix was fully dilated the next morning. Some fetal heart rate (FHR) decelerations were noted over the course of the night. She was seen by a doctor who noted the decelerations and that she was fully dilated and planned to let her wait an hour for the head to descend before pushing.
The decelerations continued and the syntocinon was reduced. After an hour the claimant’s mother began pushing. The midwife noted the CTG to be reassuring but as the second stage of labour continued and the syntocinon was increased, the records showed that the midwife appeared increasingly concerned about the CTG, noting decelerations, frequently recording the maternal heart rate and repeatedly calling a senior midwife to review the CTG. The senior midwife was noted to be happy to allow the claimant’s mother to continue pushing. The claimant was finally delivered after his mother had been pushing for 1 hour and 50 minutes.
At birth the claimant was flat with the umbilical cord loosely around his neck. An emergency call was put out to summon the neonatal team. The claimant was resuscitated but didn’t breathe spontaneously until 23 minutes of age. He was transferred to the special care baby unit (SCBU) where his condition was initially thought to be due to infection. Later, an MRI brain scan revealed brain damage consistent with an acute hypoxic insult (short period of oxygen deprivation) around the time of his birth.
Boyes Turner’s medical experts were critical of the midwife’s failure to act upon her noted concerns that she could hear decelerations in the fetal heart rate despite the fact that these were not evident on the printout trace from the CTG monitor. Given these concerns and the inconsistency between what the midwife was hearing and what was appearing on the CTG trace she should have applied a fetal scalp electrode to check the fetal heart, stopped the syntocinon to avoid further stress to the baby and called for a doctor to review. In those circumstances the doctor would have achieved delivery by forceps sooner and the claimant’s brain injury would have been avoided or reduced. The defendant fought the case on the basis that the apparently reassuring CTG was accurate and that their midwife acted in accordance with acceptable standards of care.
The settlement was achieved in the lead up to a strongly contested trial on liability at which the judge would be asked to decide between differing interpretations of the fetal heart rate which arose from inconsistencies between the midwifery records and the printed recording from the cardiotocograph (CTG). The trial judge’s decision would determine whether defendant hospital staff should have delivered the claimant sooner and if so, whether earlier delivery would have avoided the claimant’s brain injury. Given the opposing opinions expressed by the medical experts for the claimant and the defendant NHS Trust, and the uncertainty of the outcome at trial, the infant claimant accepted the offer with the approval of the court.
The £2,500,000 settlement ensures that the claimant’s family will have help in meeting his needs.
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