Negligent treatment during childbirth leads to cerebral palsy judgment

Our client

Rebecca* (now seven years old) was injured when delays during her birth meant that the supply of oxygen to her brain was reduced causing an ischaemic brain injury. This resulted in cerebral palsy in the form of four-limbed dystonia.

Four-limbed dystonia is a type of dyskinetic cerebral palsy. A child with cerebral palsy of this type will have difficulties moving around, for example making unintended, writhing movements and not having control over how they sit and stand. As a result of the dyskinetic cerebral palsy Rebecca is now entirely dependent on others for her daily needs and she also suffers from epilepsy and uncomfortable gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

The result

Our specialist cerebral palsy solicitors obtained an admission of liability for the dyskinetic cerebral palsy from the hospital where Rebecca was born. Although Rebecca is still too young for her cerebral palsy compensation claim to be valued, the admission of liability means that temporary short-term payments are already being made to her family.

The claims process

Rebecca’s family first contacted us in 2007 when she was three years old. We began looking into how Rebecca had become a child with cerebral palsy, starting by investigating the medical reports for Rebecca and her mum. We then obtained the opinions of six expert witnesses, including a midwife and a neurologist (a professional who specialists in conditions affecting the nervous system) to find out how the ischaemic brain injury occurred that caused the dyskinetic cerebral palsy, and how this could have been avoided.

In 2010, our specialist solicitors contacted the hospital explaining what had happened to Rebecca during her birth and how we thought hospital negligence meant Rebecca was now a child with cerebral palsy. This included how Rebecca’s mum had not been properly monitored whilst in labour and so had been mistakenly discharged, and how midwife negligence meant that when monitoring finally began, Rebecca’s distress was not spotted. This then lead to a delay in Rebecca’s delivery, causing an ischaemic brain injury, resulting in the dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

The cerebral palsy compensation claim was complicated by a condition known as placental abruption – where the placenta partially or completely separates from the lining of the mother’s uterus – and which means that a birth emergency then becomes a crisis.

Did the hospital admit fault?

When medical expert evidence was exchanged, the hospital admitted that hospital negligence was to blame for the ischaemic brain injury that caused Rebecca’s dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

The future for Rebecca

As a child with cerebral palsy of this severity, Rebecca will always be dependent on others to meet her needs. However, thanks to the admission of liability, when she is old enough for her cerebral palsy compensation claim to be valued (when her mental and physical health and life expectancy as a child with cerebral palsy) are clear, compensation will be awarded. For now, Rebecca and her family receive temporary payments to cover her current needs.

*All names have been changed for client privacy. 

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