Top ranked cerebral palsy claims lawyers
Liability settlement for man with dyskinetic cerebral palsy
Boyes Turner’s specialist birth injury lawyers have secured a liability settlement for a 21 year old man with moderately severe, dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
The claimant suffered a short period of profound hypoxic ischaemia (lack of oxygen) in the final minutes of his mother’s labour. For 20 minutes leading up to the claimant’s birth the defendant hospital staff failed to monitor the fetal heart rate properly, misinterpreting the heart rate as normal for a fetus when in fact it was the mother’s heart rate. The mistakes led to false reassurance about the condition of the fetus and a delay in delivering the baby.
The claimant suffered permanent damage to his brain, leaving him physically disabled but with retained intellectual capacity, which meant that as he approached adulthood he was able to instruct cerebral palsy specialist, Susan Brown, without the need for a Litigation Friend, but there were serious evidential difficulties which needed to be overcome in order to win the case.
The claimant’s case depended on evidence contained on the CTG (cardiotocograph) traces from his mother’s labour. The CTG traces should set out, minute by minute, the maternal contractions and fetal heart rate as the baby responds to the stresses of labour in the hours and minutes leading up to its birth. Certain types of fetal heart-rate decelerations, reduced beat-to-beat variability and excessive increases (tachycardia) or a gradual decline (bradycardia) in the fetal heart-rate are indications that the fetus is being deprived of oxygen and should prompt the obstetric team into expediting the delivery by forceps or a caesarean section. After a traumatic birth the CTG traces provide expert birth injury lawyers and medical experts with a contemporaneous picture of the events which were taking place during the labour. Boyes Turner’s cerebral palsy specialists routinely analyse CTG traces from our clients' medical records when investigating birth injury claims. However, the medical records in this case were over 20 years old. The CTG traces were untimed, partly illegible, sporadic owing to periods of loss of contact on the cardiotocograph machine, and incomplete during the critical, final minutes of the labour. Susan worked with the medical expert team to analyse the events leading up to the claimant’s delivery, reconstructing what must have happened during those final few minutes of labour from the limited available information about the labour and the claimant’s condition at birth.
Compensation is only recoverable for injury that is proven to have been caused by negligence, so it was essential to account for every minute of time negligently wasted by the obstetric and midwifery team to ensure that the claimant would receive his full entitlement to compensation. The defendant hospital fiercely denied that their staff’s negligence was responsible for the claimant’s injury, but after skilled discussion and negotiation an out of court settlement was agreed at 85% liability in the claimant’s favour.
Judgment will now be entered for the claimant and an interim payment obtained to provide for his urgent needs whilst the claim is valued.
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