Case study: breach of duty leads to cerebral palsy
Our medical negligence team acted on behalf of a mother and baby on their cerebral palsy compensation claim. The baby was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after a breach of duty at hospital.
The mother of our client (the baby) was admitted to hospital for an induction of labour at 38 weeks and delivered her baby by trial of forceps. The baby was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and found to have a systolic murmur. She was discharged when the ECG was normal.
A couple of weeks later, the mother was told to return to the hospital after the baby became unwell; she was pale, cold and her head was moving in an unusual manner. She was then discharged and told to attend her GP if the baby got worse. A few days later, they were told to attend a different hospital when she became worse again and were transferred to the psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the original hospital when a bed was available.
No advice was given to monitor and keep the blood pressure above 40mmHg in the meantime. Our client began having fits and a CT scan showed diffuse change throughout both cerebral hemispheres. It was thought that the brain damage was due to hypoxic ischaemia. The baby was reviewed by a Paediatrician two months later and diagnosed as having cerebral palsy, developmental delay, cortical blindness and seizures. She requires 24-hour care.
Settling the claim
Our medical negligence solicitors obtained legal aid and sent instructions to a GP, Neuro-radiologist, and Paediatric and Neonatal Intensivist. Breach of duty was confirmed as well as no findings of pre-hospital hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury. We obtained further reports in the fields of Obstetrics, Radiology, and Paediatrics, and sent a letter of claim. The hospital admitted liability in full.
We got additional reports from a care expert, speech and language therapist, Assistive Technology expert, physio expert and accommodation expert which set out details of treatment and assistance for our client. An Education Psychologist also confirmed that the baby would never have capacity. Due to limitation, the claim was issued and served, and judgment was entered for damages to be assessed.
A round table meeting took place and settlement was provisionally agreed. A settlement was approved at an approval hearing. As a result of the claim, our client received £3.5million and periodical payments of £265,000 until 2023 and £311,000 thereafter for life.