Admission of liability for boy with dyskinetic cerebral palsy following negligent 'water birth'

Our specialist birth injury lawyers have settled liability in a claim for an eight-year-old boy who has severe dyskinetic, four-limb cerebral palsy as a result of a hospital midwife’s negligent management of his ‘water birth’ delivery.

Injury

Our client suffered a brain injury from oxygen deprivation in the final minutes before birth when the midwife failed to respond to increasing fetal heart rate tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate) and decreasing maternal contractions by removing his mother from the birthing pool and expediting delivery. Instead, she allowed the partially obstructed delivery to continue.

The baby was eventually delivered, with difficulty, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and body, with no respiratory effort, and needed cardiac massage before finally beginning to gasp at 12 minutes of life. After regular breathing was established, he was transferred to SCBU. He had seizures and blood tests revealed that he was acidotic. He now has severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs.

Investigation and claim

We investigated and put the claim to the defendant hospital which admitted negligent delay in the delivery but disputed that our client would have completely avoided his injury if correct treatment had been given. The defendant disputed the timings within which our experts believed a correctly managed delivery could have taken place and argued that our client would have suffered significant impairment of his mobility and cognitive disability in any event. Given the close timings (within a six minute window) and the entrenched disagreement between the experts, there was a significant risk that our client might not succeed in establishing that the defendant was fully liable for his injuries depending on the judge’s findings in relation to the disputed timings at trial.

Settlement

We pursued the case, supported by our medical experts, and prepared for the liability trial but at a pre-trial round table meeting we reached a negotiated settlement with the defendant, securing 90% liability for our client. We also secured an immediate interim payment of £275,000 to meet our client’s urgent needs for case management, therapies, specialist equipment and respite care whilst we work with the family and our experts to assess our client’s lifelong needs and quantify the claim.

If you are caring for a child or young adult with cerebral palsy or other neurological injury caused by medical negligence, contact us by email at cerebralpalsy@boyesturner.com.

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