Failure In Duty Of Care Leads To Cerebral Palsy In Twin
The Law Of… Seeking Justice For Birth Injuries
What happened when Simpson Millar took on the case of a twin born with cerebral palsy? David Thomas, a Medical Negligence Partner at Simpson Millar, explains how mistakes during childbirth led to life-changing injuries, a pursuit of justice and a 7-figure award of damages.
What Caused The Cerebral Palsy?
The young claimant at the centre of this case (referred to as Child A) was born with a hypoxic brain injury, the result of starvation of oxygen to the brain during childbirth. This brain injury led to a diagnosis of severe four limb dyskinetic cerebral palsy with a mild spastic diplegia.
Child A was the second of twins, the first having been born without any disability. Issues arose in the 34 minutes between first and second birth, in which the healthcare professionals performing the delivery failed to act upon an abnormal heart rate registering on CTG recordings.
No Emergency Caesarean
Instead of reacting to the CTG and performing an emergency caesarean, the obstetric team pressed on with a vaginal delivery and Child A was born 34 minutes after his sister.
The severity of the brain injury meant that Child A would be economically and physically dependent upon others for the rest of his life. Child A's mother approached Simpson Millar with the intention of putting forward a claim on her child's behalf. David Thomas accepted the case, secured legal aid, and made contact with the hospital trust responsible.
The Hospital Trust's Alleged Failings
In a Letter of Claim to the trust, it was alleged that a breach of duty had taken place due to:
- Failure by the obstetric staff to identify abnormal CTG traces in a timely manner
- Failure to perform an emergency caesarean section as soon as the CTG mandated action.
The failures by those responsible for Child A's wellbeing before, during and after childbirth, caused the resulting cerebral palsy and associated physical and mental disabilities.
Avoiding a Long, Drawn Out Court Case
The hospital trust denied liability, maintaining that the CTG trace did not necessitate the intervention of a caesarean delivery. Independent medical experts were instructed by both parties, resulting in a major difference of opinion over interpretation.
With court proceedings having begun, a Joint Settlement Meeting was arranged with a view to avoiding a fully contested court hearing. At the meeting, the hospital trust finally recognised the weight of compelling evidence David Thomas had gathered in Child A's favour, and made a series of offers to settle the case. The opening offer was £500,000, eventually rising to £2.5million.
A Seven Figure Settlement
The hospital trust's representatives were told in no uncertain terms that the offers were too low and both parties walked away. However, it became clear that the trust was keen to avoid a protracted court hearing and the case was concluded for £3.65 million plus legal costs.
As Child A was classed as a Protected Party, lacking the mental capacity to make informed decisions for himself, it was necessary for the settlement to be approved by the court. This was to ensure the award was in the child’s best interests.
"Child A's mother came to Simpson Millar in desperation, following another national law firm's rejection of the case due to a lack of supporting expert evidence."
"We were happy to take on the challenge and after instructing our own tried and trusted team of experts, we were able to construct a compelling case. Because of this, the hospital trust and their legal team eventually saw the sense of reaching a negotiated settlement."
"The family was delighted with the outcome and that money will now be used to ensure that Child A gets the support and care he needs for the rest of his life."
If you believe your child's birth injuries are a result of clinical error, you may be entitled to similar compensation. To discuss your case in confidence, contact our Medical Negligence department today.