Case Study: £150,000 Compensation for Medical Negligence Birth Injury

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Georgina Emsley

Solicitor, Medical Negligence

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A Medical Negligence Claim Case Study – Client Situation

Our client was in hospital due 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. The lawyer on the case instructed experts in obstetrics to look at the circumstances of the case. The experts were of the opinion that the emergency forceps delivery had not been performed to a reasonable standard.

The defendants subsequently admitted that an experienced consultant was on call at the time and was available to attend the emergency situation, but instead, the junior doctor chose to attempt the very tricky and technical delivery – endangering both the mother and baby.

The opinion of our obstetric 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.

The risks of forceps delivery includes severe injuries to the baby and mother. This can include brain injury’s to the baby that affects their chances at a normal life. 

Eventually, 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 agreed with our own colorectal expert - that expensive future treatment was reasonable in the private sector. A colorectal expert is a surgeon who specialises in conditions that affect either your intestines, colon or anus, which in our client’s case was from the third degree tearing during childbirth.

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The Outcome

The NHS Trust eventually agreed to settle with the client for £150,000.00 as 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. 

Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head has come out of the mother during birth, but sadly, their shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. This could be fatal to a baby, which is why a forceps delivery was essential. 

The Medical Negligence Lawyer on the case also represented the child who suffered a shoulder dystocia injury due to the rushed and violent emergency forceps delivery – which will be placed in a trust until the child older. Any compensation awarded to a child will need to be approved by the Court and may be invested by the Court until the child turns 18, or held in a Trust.


Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Forceps Delivery. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Vaginal tears: What to expect and how to cope. Retrieved from

Simpson Millar. (n.d.). Birth Injury Claims. Retrieved from

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). (n.d.). Shoulder Dystocia. Retrieved from

PubMed Central. (n.d.). Shoulder Dystocia: An Evidence-Based Approach. Retrieved from

Simpson Millar. (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy Claims. Retrieved from

PubMed Central. (n.d.). Cerebral Palsy: Causes, Pathophysiology, and MRI Findings in the Preterm and Term Neonate. Retrieved from

Georgina Emsley

Solicitor, Medical Negligence

Areas of Expertise:
Medical Negligence

Georgina is a Solicitor who works in our Medical Negligence team here at Simpson Millar, based in our Manchester office.

She is a committed and highly reliable Solicitor with a track record of supporting clients through the process of making a claim to achieve the best outcome for them. Georgina has experience working on many high-value cases with a range of circumstances and complexities from start to finish, where she reviews medical records, liaises with experts and gathers evidence in order to negotiate the best possible settlement for her clients.

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