Settlement of £9 million plus care payments of up to £273,000pa after maternity mistakes cause cerebral palsy

Settlement of GBP9 million plus care payments of up to GBP273,000pa after maternity mistakes cause cerebral palsy

Boyes Turner’s cerebral palsy lawyers have secured a settlement of £9million with lifelong care payments rising to £273,000 per year for a boy who suffered hypoxic ischaemic damage to his brain when his mother was negligently sent home from hospital by the maternity team three days after her waters had broken.

He has permanent disability from cerebral palsy as a result of reduced oxygen to his brain during the period of delay leading up to his delivery and requires a very high level of care and support due to the behavioural difficulties that he has.

Negligent maternity care of high-risk pregnancy

At the time that our client’s mother was sent home from hospital, her waters had been broken for three days. A longer than usual period of delay between the waters breaking and birth of the baby is known as prolonged spontaneous rupture of membranes or PROM. In this case, the mother’s PROM meant that her unborn baby needed careful monitoring in hospital as her pregnancy should have been classed as high risk. In addition, she was experiencing ‘tightenings’ and her own heartbeat was abnormally high (tachycardia). In these circumstances she should have been reviewed by a doctor. Instead, she was sent home from hospital and told to return for monitoring the next day or if her tightenings became more painful.

Later that night, at home, she started having strong contractions. She returned to hospital and was admitted, but her labour was allowed to continue to a spontaneous vaginal delivery six hours later. Despite the hospital’s own guidelines and national guidance dictating that high-risk labours must be monitored continuously by CTG, the baby’s heart rate was inadequately monitored using intermittent auscultation (listening).

Our client was in poor condition at birth with low APGAR scores and making no effort to breathe. Blood tests indicated that he had suffered from lack of oxygen. He was transferred to the special care baby unit (SCBU). MRI brain scans later revealed that his brain had been damaged by hypoxia (lack of oxygen).

Making a claim

We helped our client’s family pursue a claim against the defendant hospital for compensation for their son’s devastating injury. The basis for the claim was that the maternity team’s failure to admit our client’s mother to hospital and continuously monitor the baby’s heart rate was negligent, given her high risk status from PROM. This resulted in a delay in our client’s delivery during which he suffered ‘chronic partial’ oxygen deprivation which went unnoticed by the midwives. If our client’s mother had been admitted to hospital and her baby’s heart rate correctly monitored, abnormalities in the heart rate would have prompted earlier delivery. This would have avoided our client’s brain injury, cerebral palsy and lifelong disability.

The defendant hospital admitted negligent monitoring. This had also been the subject of an internal investigation by the hospital and at least one of the midwives had been struck off the midwifery register. The defendant continued to deny that the failure to have our client’s mother seen by a doctor, admitted to hospital or continuously monitored instead of being sent home earlier in the day was negligent or caused our client’s permanent neurological damage. However, when we pushed them to disclose expert evidence to justify their denial, they admitted liability for our client’s injury.

Liability judgment and £1.25million interim (advance) payments to meet immediate needs

We obtained a court judgment and secured interim payments totalling £1.25 million which helped the family buy a more suitable house and meet other urgent needs arising from our client’s disability.

Settlement provides lump sum plus lifelong annual payments

We worked with our client’s family and our experts to gather the evidence needed to accurately assess our client’s condition, future prognosis and the cost of meeting the extensive needs which will arise from his lifelong disability. Settlement negotiations at a round table meeting were initially unsuccessful but, shortly afterwards, an agreed out-of-court settlement was achieved. The settlement provides our client with the flexibility of a lump sum of £9 million plus the long-term security of guaranteed, annual payments to cover the costs associated with his care rising to £273,000 per year for the rest of his life. As our client is a child and will not be mentally capable of managing his affairs, he has the benefit of Court of Protection deputyship. The court approved the settlement and made an order protecting his anonymity.

If you are caring for a child or a young adult with cerebral palsy or neurological injury caused by medical negligence and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email on cerebralpalsy@boyesturner.com.

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

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