Case study: breach of duty lead to cerebral palsy

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A mother was admitted to hospital for an induction of labour at 38 weeks and delivered her baby by trial of forceps. The baby (the Claimant and our client) was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and found to have a systolic murmur. She was discharged when the ECG was normal.

The mother was told to attend hospital a couple of weeks later when the baby became unwell; she was pale, cold and her head was moving in an unusual manner. She was discharged and told to attend her GP if she got worse. A few days later, they were told to attend a different hospital when she became worse, and was 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. The Claimant began having fits and a CT scan showed diffuse change throughout both cerebral hemispheres and it was thought that the brain damage was due to hypoxic ischaemia. The Claimant was reviewed by a Paediatrician two months later and was diagnosed as having cerebral palsy, developmental delay, cortical blindness and seizures. She requires 24 hour care.

Legal aid was obtained and instructions were sent 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. Further reports were obtained in the fields of Obstetrics, Radiology, and Paediatrics, and a letter of claim was sent and liability was admitted in full.

Additional reports were obtained 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 the Claimant. An Education Psychologist also confirmed that she would never have capacity. Due to limitation, the claim was issued, served and judgment was entered for damages to be assessed.

A round table meeting took place and settlement was provisionally agreed. Settlement was approved at an approval hearing. The Claimant received £3.5million and periodical payments of £265,000 until 2023 and £311,000 thereafter for life.


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