A Guide to Claiming Meconium Aspiration Syndrome Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by meconium aspiration syndrome we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered meconium aspiration syndrome and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS) is a condition unique to newborn babies, and is caused by events just before or during birth.
Meconium is the term given to the first semi-solid waste passed by a baby, usually after the baby has been born. In some cases, perhaps in response to foetal distress, the baby's intestines contract and relax to expel the meconium early. This waste contaminates the amniotic fluid surrounding the foetus and if it is inhaled may irritate the airways and lungs, causing respiratory issues.
While it is less likely that negligence on the part of a midwife or other professional would specifically trigger meconium aspiration syndrome, it may be possible to make a clinical negligence claim if the syndrome is not promptly identified and treated to an acceptable standard of care.
Can Meconium Aspiration be prevented?
Although rare, there is no way to prevent meconium aspiration from occuring and all newborn babies are technically at risk.
Healthcare professionals have identified that babies may have an increased risk of MAS if the mother has diabetes or high blood pressure. The risk is also greater when the baby is overdue or the labour is particularly long.
What are the signs or symptoms of MAS?
The first sign that meconium may have been passed is usually the colour of the amniotic fluid. Instead of being clear and watery, the fluid may be stained blue-green or yellowish. It may also be thicker in consistency.
It may be also possible for the midwife or obstetrician to detect an infant's lower heart rate before delivery, indicating the baby may have inhaled meconium.
The baby, once delivered, may show signs of MAS. These signs may include:
- blue discolouration of the skin, fingernails or umbilical cord,
- breathing difficulties,
- the baby may be limp and less responsive
Confirmation that the baby has MAS may be made by listening for lung abnormalities or by carrying out blood gas tests.
How is meconium aspiration syndrome treated?
Treatment should be immediate as delay may result in long-term respiratory problems.
An endotracheal tube may be inserted to clear the baby's upper and lower airways. The tube uses suction to remove the meconium. The baby may also need oxygen therapy and a surfactant treatment to prevent the lungs collapsing. Antibiotics may also be given.
Blood tests (for oxygen levels) and X-rays should be performed to ensure the lungs have been sufficiently cleared and that the baby is getting enough oxygen into his system.
Can there be complications?
Children who inhaled meconium before or during birth may be susceptible to other chest conditions if they have sustained respiratory damage through MAS. These conditions include asthma and other breathing difficulties and chest infections. If the baby has been exposed to high levels of meconium he may have permanent lung damage.
Failure to treat MAS appropriately may deprive a baby of oxygen, leading in extreme cases to permanent, significant brain damage or death.
Can I make a clinical negligence claim in respect of meconium aspiration syndrome?
Meconium aspiration syndrome should be an easily-identifiable condition in most cases.
If a child has sustained respiratory illness or other conditions through undiagnosed or untreated MAS, it may be possible to bring a claim for negligence against the healthcare professionals involved with the baby's birth.
Any illness or condition arising from the syndrome may not be immediately evident. A person who was affected by MAS during their own birth may bring a claim up to 3 years after his or her 18th birthday. Alternatively, a parent or guardian may make a claim on an affected child's behalf before this date.
No win, no fee, no risk
No win, no fee takes the risk out of making a meconium aspiration syndrome claim. If you don't win your claim, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
Our no win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making a meconium aspiration syndrome claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my meconium aspiration syndrome claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my meconium aspiration syndrome claim?
If your meconium aspiration syndrome claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in medical negligence cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
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Meconium aspiration syndrome FAQ's
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert