£150,000 Compensation for Medical Negligence Birth Injury

Author:
David Thomas
Partner, Medical Negligence Lawyer
Date:
24/04/2019

A Medical Negligence Case Study - Client Situation

Our client was in hospital to give birth to her child, but when an emergency situation arose during the birth, a junior doctor decided to carry out an emergency forceps delivery.

Our client was left with third degree tears to her perineum and anal sphincter, as well as psychological harm. As a result, she alleged that the emergency forceps delivery had been incompetently performed.

How We Helped

The client approached our Medical Negligence Lawyers to make a medical negligence claim against the NHS trust responsible. Clinical and Negligence Lawyer David Thomas appointed obstetrics experts to look at the circumstances of the case. They produced evidence that the emergency forceps delivery had not been performed competently.

The defendants subsequently admitted that an experienced consultant had been on call at the time and was available to attend the emergency situation, but that instead, the junior doctor chose to attempt a very tricky and technical delivery themselves.

The findings of our obstetrics experts conflicted with the view of the defendant’s expert obstetrician, who concluded that the forceps delivery had been handled competently by the junior doctor. Their experts also found that while an experienced consultant was available, the junior doctor wasn’t negligent in proceeding to deliver the baby without assistance.

Eventually, at the compensation settlement meeting, the defendant’s leading counsel conceded that they were at significant risk of losing the case due to the rushed and violent mode of forceps delivery. The defendant's colorectal expert also agreed with our own colorectal expert that expensive future treatment was reasonable in the private sector.

The Outcome

The NHS Trust eventually agreed to settle with the client for £150,000 medical negligence compensation.

This birth injury claim highlights a number of key issues, in particular whether a junior doctor with limited experience of shoulder dystocia delivery acted reasonably in attempting emergency forceps delivery without the benefit of an experienced consultant. Evidence showed that the junior doctor had very limited experience of such births and, in all likelihood, the delivery was below standard.

This case also shows why it is so important for NHS Hospitals to have an emergency plan for the situations which have a high risk of injuring a mother and her baby. While shoulder dystocia injury is thankfully rare, when it does occur, the hospital must have a system in place to deal with it quickly and efficiently, and doctors must have the necessary skills and experience. 

David Thomas is also representing the child who suffered a shoulder dystocia injury due to the rushed and violent emergency forceps delivery.

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