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Liability settlement secured for 16 year old girl who suffered brain injury at birth
Boyes Turner’s specialist birth injury lawyers have secured a liability settlement for a sixteen year old girl who suffered a brain injury at birth. The claimant’s learning difficulties and language impairment were the result of a prolonged period of partial asphyxia in the hours leading up to her delivery.
The claimant’s parents contacted us as their daughter approached her teens because they were concerned about her development. After investigating the events which took place 16 years ago at the NHS hospital where the claimant was born, Boyes Turner’s clinical negligence solicitors put the case to the defendant hospital. The hospital admitted failings in their care but only accepted that their negligence was the cause of our client’s injuries after court proceedings were issued.
Towards the end of her first pregnancy, the claimant’s mother went into hospital with contractions in established labour. NHS guidelines require the fetal heart rate to be monitored electronically by CTG (cardiotocograph) for at least 20 minutes on the mother’s admission to hospital. It is also standard practice for midwives to monitor women in labour by regular observations and to track the progress of the labour and other vital signs, such as maternal blood pressure, on a partogram chart. There was a two hour delay in performing the admission CTG which was then discontinued even though it showed that the baby’s heart rate was tachycardic (abnormally fast). The CTG should have been continued and an obstetric doctor called to advise. If this had happened the baby would have been delivered within an hour. Instead, the mother was left unattended in labour and was refused an epidural for pain relief because no midwives were available to monitor her. When she started to push, her husband again had to find a midwife, who set up another CTG. The fetal heart rate monitor revealed reduced beat to beat variability and late variable decelerations – serious indicators that the baby was suffering from oxygen deprivation – but the mother was encouraged to keep pushing and delivered the baby almost two hours later. Throughout the labour and delivery the monitoring and midwifery care was substandard and at no time was a doctor called to advise on either of the abnormal CTG results.
At birth the baby wasn’t breathing. She was ventilated by bag and mask and taken to the special care unit. Her cord blood gas results showed severe metabolic acidosis and she had HIE (hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy). The diagnosis was very severe birth asphyxia.
The claimant’s brain injury has left her with learning difficulties and language impairment. She needs extra support for her special educational needs (SEN) and may have difficulty working or living independently as an adult.
Boyes Turner’s specialist clinical negligence lawyers have now obtained judgment and an interim payment to maximise our client’s developmental and educational potential with specific therapy and assistance whilst we value the claim.
I try to assist lawyers by explaining, in clear and comprehensible terms, what the relevant issues are and where the strengths and weaknesses of the case lie.
DR PETER DEAR