£3m compensation for brain injuries during childbirth

Brain injury compensation equivalent to £3,000,000 was awarded to a six year old girl for brain injuries suffered at birth as a result of oxygen deprivation leading to cerebral palsy.

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Case details

Injury details

The girl's mother had experienced a difficult birth two years earlier with another child. As a result prior to the claimant's birth advice from a consultant obstetrician was that a caesarean section would be safer than inducing labour.

The claimant's mother began contractions a month later. She attended hospital and was seen by a registrar. The contractions stopped and she was sent home with instructions to return to the ward the next morning.

The registrar gave midwifery staff instructions to book her in for induction the next day.

The lady believed she was to return to undergo a caesarean section. The next day at the hospital steps were taken to commence induction. The claimant's mother expressed concerns. The attending registrar saw no reason to change from the plan of inducing the lady.

The induction proceeded despite the reservations of the claimant's mother. As a result her uterus was overly stimulated and ruptured. The child was deprived of oxygen for 20 minutes before being delivered by emergency caesarean section.

The oxygen deprivation caused cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs. The child's development would be severely restricted. She would suffer microcephaly.

She would never be able to walk and always depend on others for 24 hour care. Her life expectancy was significantly reduced. The child would need a suitable home. She required access to 24-hour carers and use of hydrotherapy equipment. She would be unable to support herself and require financial and emotional assistance for life.

It was alleged that the hospital was negligent insofar as the birth had been attempted by induction despite advice this would be inappropriate.

The hospital had not given the option of electing for a caesarean section. The registrar had advised the risks of induction were low. The options presented were to induce or return home to await spontaneous labour.

Clinical notes had not been reviewed at the time of advice given. The claimant's mother had asked to see her consultant but was refused. When she tried to explain about the original consultant advice the registrar ignored her.

The hospital alleged that the registrar had given options of induction, waiting spontaneous labour or elected caesarean section. They maintained the risks had been discussed in detail. It was disputed that the notes were not reviewed and the request to see the original consultant was denied.

The hospital maintained the claimant's mother had been anxious to avoid a caesarean section as she wished to stay in hospital for as short a time as possible.

Conclusion and settlement

Initially liability was not admitted but an out of Court settlement was approved and a lump sum of £1,200,000 was awarded payable immediately.

Periodical payments of £35,000 per year until age 11; £65,000 until age 19; and £100,000 for life thereafter were awarded.

£200,000 of the damages was attributed to "pain, suffering and loss of amenity."

Future care costs were awarded at £2,620,000.

Cost of past care provided was set at £103,000.

A further £140,000 was awarded for future loss of earnings.

Therapy and administration costs were set at £235,000.

Have you been affected by medical negligence?

If you have been injured in the care of an NHS hospital you may be able to pursue a medical negligence compensation claim. Contact Quittance on 0800 612 7456 for more information.

Read more: clinical negligence compensation claims

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher