UK Birth Injury Negligence

Multi-Million Settlement for Brain Injuries at Birth

Posted on: May 16th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

London’s High Court have approved a multi-million pound settlement for a seven year-old boy who was rendered severely disabled by mistakes in his delivery. 

In March 2009, Thomas Hord was born at the East Surrey Hospital through an emergency Caesarean Section. However, there was a twenty-minute delay between a diagnosis of foetal distress and the surgery, during which time Thomas sustained severe brain damage because he was starved of oxygen in utero. 

As a result of the brain damage he sustained during this twenty-minute delay, Thomas now suffers from cerebral palsy. He can only communicate with this eyes, and also suffers from epileptic fits. Despite these hardships, Thomas is currently attending a mainstream primary school and lives at home with his parents, Samantha and Christopher, as well as three siblings. 

Samantha and Christopher, acting on behalf of their son, sought legal counsel concerning Thomas’ untimely birth. They subsequently made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, the body that runs the hospital where Thomas was born. In 2011, the trust admitted liability for Thomas’ injuries and began negotiating a compensation settlement with his parents. Eventually, Thomas was offered a £2.5 million lump sum, as well as annual index-linked payments of £100,000. When Thomas reaches adulthood, these annual payments will increase in value to £245,000 a year. 

The settlement then proceeded to London’s High Court to be approved by a judge. At the hearing – overseen by Mr Justice Warby – the Chief Executive for the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust read a statement that apologised for Thomas’ injuries and the  “the difficulties caused for him and his family”. Margaret Bowron, who acts as QC for the NHS Trust, expressed her respect for Thomas’ parents for their dedication to their son since his birth. 

As he approved Thomas’ compensation for birth injuries, Judge Warby expressed similar admiration of Thomas’ parents: “I would like to express my admiration for the parents’ work and devotion to the care of their son, particularly in light of the pressures of work and family matters, that have no doubt made it even more difficult. The court wishes the family the very best for the future.”

Claim Settled for Mother who had Surgical Implements Left in her After Birth

Posted on: February 29th, 2016 by Medical Negligence

A woman, who had surgical packaging left in her after she gave birth to her son at the Hull Women and Children’s Hospital, has settled her claim for compensation.

The patient, Elise Cattle – aged twenty-seven – gave birth to her son Freddie in August 2012. However, for months after the birth Ms Cattle experienced sever pain, bleeding and infections that interfered with her ability to care for her new baby. She was unable to carry out basic parental care, and as such Freddie’s grandparents had to undertake the care of the baby, reducing Ms Cattle’s bonding time with her newborn.

After five long months of ineffective treatment through her GP, Elise was referred to a specialist who discovered that surgical packaging used during the birth to stem any bleeding had been mistakingly left inside her. Upon its removal, Elise’s symptoms disappeared.

Elise sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for medical negligence against the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust, who oversee the running of the hospital where she gave birth. An investigation into the mistake was conducted and the Trust admitted full liability for Elise’s injuries. Negotiations were carried out between the parties, and a settlement of compensation of £7,500 was agreed upon.

After the resolution of the claim, Elise recounted to a local paper that: “When I got home from hospital, the pain just got worse and worse. I couldn’t sit down for days afterwards, and had to use a rubber ring to sit on. I was laid on the sofa while my mum and dad did everything. It really affected my bond with Freddie. I felt like I’d failed him.”

Her legal representatives added: “It is accepted by the NHS that these errors are being made simply because healthcare staff and providers are not following clear, simple guidelines.” The Chief Nurse for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Mike Wright, told the newspaper that “when mistakes do happen, we are committed to being open and honest about them”

Couple Settles Claim for Newborn’s Death

Posted on: December 18th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

A couple’s claim for the death of their newborn son has been settled for €70,000 after a case in the High Court.

Fiona Watters was admitted to the Cavan General Hospital on the 20th November 2015 whilst heavily pregnant with her first baby. A short while later her waters broke and, in an attempt to speed up the delivery process, she was administered increasingly high levels of Prostaglandin.

In the evening of the 22nd November, medical staff at the hospital made an effort to deliver the baby naturally. However, after an hour the midwives sought advice from Dr Salah Aziz, a consultant obstetrician, as there were some signs that the baby was suffering from foetal distress.

When Dr Aziz arrived at the hospital’s Labour Ward, he discovered that the only out-of-hours operating theatre was already occupied by another Caesarean Section. In light of this, Dr Azizz attempted a vacuum delivery and a forceps delivery on the baby, yet neither worked. As soon as the operating theatre was available, the baby – a boy named Jamie – was delivered in poor condition.

Soon after his birth Jamie was transferred to a Special Babies Unit in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. He sadly died a short while after his admittance, just days old in his mother’s arms. A subsequent investigation was launched into Jamie’s death, yet was stopped by the High Court in 2013 when Dr Aziz pointed out that the investigators that were appointed by the HSE did not undertake proper procedures.

Ms Watters and the baby’s father, her partner Francis Flynn, had received a copy of the report constructed by investigators and sought legal counsel after the termination of the investigation. They then proceeded to make a claim for compensation against the Cavan General Hospital and the HSE.

Though the HSE did not concede full liability for Jamie’s death for a year after the claim was made, they did commission another investigation. They brought in an independent team of investigators after the deaths of two more children in the same ward.

It was not until December of last year that the cause of Jamie’s death was determined to be medical misadventure, with the large doses of Prostaglandin, the failure of Dr Aziz to notify the registrar of Jamie’s imminent delivery and the lack of available operating theatres all acting as contributory factors.

After this report, the State Claims Agency negotiated a €70,000 settlement for Jamie’s parents, with the case proceeding to the High Court for approval of the package. Mr Justice Richard Humphreys oversaw proceedings, and heard that the settlement hoped to reflect the degree of suffering sustained by Jamie’s parents. Judge Humphreys approved the figure, adding that €5,000 of the sum should be paid into court funds for the benefits of the couple’s daughter.

Court Approves Settlement for Brain Damaged Patient after Four Week Hearing

Posted on: August 4th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

Dublin’s High Court have allowed a compensation settlement of €1.75million to be paid to a patient that suffered brain damage due to hospital negligence.

The incident occurred on the 6th September 1996, when Thomas O’Connor was born in the Sligo General Hospital. He was deprived of oxygen in the womb and consequently showed no signs of life at birth. However, the baby was resuscitated and moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital, yet he had a heart attack en route. His brain was again deprived of oxygen and the medical staff had to carry out another resuscitation.

Almost nineteen years later, Mr O’Connor is a spastic quadriplegic, blind and needs to be tube-fed, all as a result of the brain damage. He is a resident of a full-time care facility in Collooney, Co. Sligo where his mother – Anne – visits him daily. It was through his mother that Mr O’Connor made lodged a compensation claim against Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE) for the brain damage he sustained at birth. He claimed that the staff at the hospital neglected to monitor the foetal heart rate, and that the heart attack was due to inadequate ventilation after the first resuscitation.

Both parties denied that there was any negligence on their part, and as a result the case was heard at the High Court in Dublin, overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. The hearing lasted four weeks, during which the judge was told that despite observing foetal distress, the CTG trace that monitored Mr O’Connor’s hear rate in the womb had been discontinued on the morning of his birth. It was alleged that this potentially delayed the birth by unto four hours, and had the distress been acted upon earlier, Mr O’Connor may not have sustained the brain damage.
Evidence was also given that the ventilation tube had been inserted at the incorrect depth of 14cm; it should have been inserted to a depth between 9 and 10cm. This meant that Mr O’Connor did not receive adequate ventilation, causing the heart attack that inflicted further brain damage.

The HSE agreed to pay a €1.75million settlement to Mr O’Connor for the brain damage he sustained due to negligence at the hospital, though they did not concede liability. Judge Cross approved the settlement when he heard it was to pay for Mr O’Connor’s care.

Court Awards Compensation for Birth Injuries

Posted on: May 16th, 2015 by Medical Negligence

The Leeds High Court have approved a claim made on behalf of a seven year-old boy after he sustained injuries at birth because of a failure to act upon prenatal scans.

On the 31st May 2008, Kit van Berckel was born at the Harrogate District Hospital, over a week past his due date. However, preceding his birth, the medical staff failed to correctly interpret and act upon scans that were performed on Kit’s mother. The scans showed that Kit was suffering from foetal distress, and when he was finally delivered, he had to be resuscitated as he had no heartbeat.

As Kit was deprived of oxygen in utero, he suffered substantial brain injuries. Later, he was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Kit is unable to support himself whilst sitting and needs help to move and eat. Though he cannot communicate verbally, Kit attends a mainstream school and uses specialised eye-stream technology to communicate.

On behalf of their son, Joanna and Charles Berckel from North Yorkshire made a claim for compensation for failure to act on his pre-natal scans. In the claim, it was alleged that his birth injuries were because of the negligence of the staff at the hospital where he was born. An investigation ensued, and the Harrogate Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted full liability for Kit’s condition.

Negotiations commenced between the parties, and though a care and rehabilitation package was decided upon, Kit will continue to live with his parents in their specially designed home. The full value of the birth injury compensation is around £9.872 million, but because the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the case had to proceed to the courts for approval of the settlement. Earlier this month, a judge at the Leeds High Court approved the settlement.

Kit’s mother commented, after the announcement of the claim, that “We were devastated and heartbroken when we found out that Kit’s condition could have been avoided if mistakes had not been made during his delivery.  There needs to be a fundamental overhaul of accountability and management procedures to minimise the opportunity of negligence caused by medical staff.”