Case Study: Cerebral Palsy Caused by Poor Jaundice Care - £4.5 Million 

Harvey, eight

JMW secured £4.5 million compensation for a young boy after poor jaundice care by medical professionals caused cerebral palsy.

The money will pay for the accommodation, equipment and care that he will need for the rest of his life after midwife blunders meant his newborn jaundice was not treated in time causing him to suffer devastating brain damage.

Failure to test and refer to hospital

Harvey was born perfectly healthy but with a low birth weight. However in the afternoon of the following day, as Harvey was doing so well, he and his mother Marie were allowed to go home. 

At shortly after 9.30am the following day Harvey and Marie were visited by one of the hospital’s community midwives who called to check all was medically well with mother and baby now they were at home. Harvey had become jaundiced overnight and a concerned Marie drew the midwife’s attention to this and also mentioned that he had not been feeding well and was noticeably sleepy. 

However the midwife was unconcerned about Harvey and simply said that jaundice was common and placing him in sunlight would clear it up. Believing that there was nothing to worry about Marie placed Harvey next to the window. In actual fact jaundice in newborn babies requires prompt investigation and hospital treatment. Placing the baby in sunlight has no impact whatsoever and a test of Harvey’s levels of bilirubin – the substance that causes yellowing of the skin and eyeballs - should have been done by the midwife straight away. Harvey should then have been referred to hospital to bring the rising bilirubin under control. 

Deterioration

The following afternoon the same midwife returned to check on Harvey, whose condition had deteriorated further. Harvey was visibly more jaundiced, was irritable and was still feeding poorly. This time the midwife did a blood test of his bilirubin level, which was found to be very high. The midwife told Marie and her husband to take Harvey to hospital.

Doctors tried to bring Harvey’s soaring bilirubin levels under control, initially with phototherapy and later that night with a blood transfusion. Eventually the amount of bilirubin in Harvey’s blood supply was brought down but by this time it was too late to prevent Harvey from suffering a devastating and permanent form of brain damage called kernicterus. Before it had been reduced the bilirubin had reached a dangerous level and had crossed the membrane of the brain. However if Harvey had been tested and referred to hospital by the midwife the first time she visited this would have been avoided.

Lasting effects

Due to the delay in getting Harvey the treatment he urgently needed he sustained brain damage in the early stages of his life which resulted in cerebral palsy and severe hearing loss. In Harvey’s case his cerebral palsy causes him mobility problems and he is partially reliant on the use of a wheelchair, his speech is poor and has severe learning difficulties. He will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life and will never be able to live independently or hold down a job. 

The claim

Harvey’s injuries would have been avoided if the midwife who visited him at home on the first day had provided an acceptable standard of care. After his parents contacted the specialist solicitors at JMW for advice their case was taken on by a solicitor specialising in kernicterus cases, who fought for justice on their behalf and was successful in securing £4.5 million in compensation to cover the cost of Harvey’s care. 

Has your family also suffered in a similar way to Harvey's?

If so, our expert, sympathetic solicitors can help you to claim the compensation you need to cover the costs of the devastating effects of the clinical negligence you experienced. Call us on 0800 054 6512 or fill in our contact form.

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