Simpson Millar helps family win millions for medical negligence


Missing hospital records and medical negligence (cerebral palsy) compensation claims

When a hospital loses medical records it can have serious consequences, especially when it involves a child with cerebral palsy. However, Simpson Millar has successfully helped a child with cerebral palsy win compensation from a hospital despite his medical records going missing.

Keeping medical records

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain when a baby is deprived of oxygen before, during or soon after birth. This could be because the medical staff involved acted negligently. For example, they may have failed to recognise the foetus was in distress on the CTG trace and then not taken immediate steps to deliver the child by emergency caesarean section.

A CTG trace monitors the baby's heart rate during labour and records it continuously on a piece of paper. In cases involving cerebral palsy it is important to review the medical records including the CTG traces to investigate whether medical staff were negligent.

According to Department of Health guidance, maternity records, obstetric and midwifery notes should be kept for 25 years after the birth of the last child. But what happens when a patient suffers harm because of medical negligence, but the hospital loses the medical records?

This is more of a problem for the hospital than the patient - as the patient can rely on forensic evidence which shows that if the records still existed they would support their case. In such circumstances the court should give the patient the benefit of the doubt - they should not have to suffer because the hospital is at fault for losing the records.

Simpson Millar help family

In a recent case, Simpson Millar LLP acted for a family of twins. The first twin was born unharmed. Sadly, the second twin was born 37 minutes later with serious brain damage and will need full-time care for the rest of his life.

The family had genuine concerns that the little boys' cerebral palsy was the result of negligence by the obstetric and midwifery staff. They recollected that at the time of his birth there was panic in the delivery suite. Later, the hospital lost all of his medical records, including obstetric and CTG traces - no reasons were ever given as to how these records were lost.

We, together with the family, approached a number of obstetric experts - all of whom said, that in the absence of the medical records, the case was unwinnable. They questioned how it was possible to know what happened between the birth of the first twin and the second twin without the medical records.

We put together a team of medical experts - consisting of a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, a Paediatric Neurologist, and a Consultant Neuroradiologist. With their assistance he was able to forensically piece together what had likely occurred in the time period between the birth of the first twin and the second twin.

They concluded that the likelihood was that there had been a negligent delay in delivering the second twin. Because of this delay, the boy had been deprived of oxygen which caused his brain injury. Unsurprisingly, the hospital denied that they had been negligent. However, we continued to fight this case which included a trial, which was contested by the hospital.

The leading Medical Negligence lawyer was triumphant and won a multi-million pound damages award for the family. All the more remarkable considering there were no medical records and the earlier experts had deemed it an unwinnable case.

Get legal advice

If you have any concerns that your child may have been born with brain damage because of negligence by the obstetric or midwifery team, you should consult a solicitor - even if the hospital has lost the medical records.

By consulting medical experts, your solicitor can forensically piece together what happened. Your solicitor may still be able to prove that the hospital failed in its duty to you and it was this failure that caused your child's brain injury. You can then effectively claim compensation against the hospital for medical negligence.

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