Case study: Prolapse of Umbilical Cord

Compensation: £1.3million and ongoing payments

Baby Connor, Widnes 

With JMW's help a man has received compensation of £1.3 million and periodical payments of £120,000 a year after negligence during his delivery as a baby resulted in him suffering serious health consequences.

Unstable position of baby in uterus

Almost two weeks before his expected date of delivery (EDD), the mother of the baby - named Connor - was admitted to hospital. The position of Connor in his mother’s uterus was unstable and there was a risk of cord prolapse (the umbilical cord descending before the baby).

One day before the EDD, Connor’s mother went into labour. Connor was positioned across his mother’s abdomen (oblique or transverse) instead of head down (cephalic).

A junior doctor came to examine Connor’s mother as she was having contractions every five minutes. However, when the doctor performed a vaginal examination, the cervix was 3cm dilated, with the membranes intact. The doctor contacted the Consultant (more senior doctor) by telephone and advised that Connor be pushed straight and the membranes be ruptured.

Umbilical cord prolapse

The junior doctor attempted to perform an external version (repositioning of the baby) and ruptured the membranes. The umbilical cord prolapsed to the right of Connor’s head and descended with it.

The junior doctor tried to push the baby’s head back up and preserve the blood supply to the baby. He also spoke to the Consultant on the telephone who arranged to come in for a possible Ventouse delivery or caesarean section. However, it took 40 minutes from the time of the cord prolapse and the time when Connor’s mother was taken into theatre for an emergency C-section.

When Connor was born, his Apgar scores (the scores that indicate the health of a newborn baby) were very low. He was admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and later transferred to a specialist children’s hospital. He suffered profound birth asphyxia and developed athetoid cerebral palsy.

Failure to make management plans for delivery 

It was alleged that, having decided to admit Connor’s mother at the outset because of the risk of labour and the possibility of cord prolapse, that it was negligent not to make any proper management plans for the delivery.  

If an experienced obstetrician had devised a management plan for the delivery, an elective caesarean section would have been advised. In that event, neither cord prolapse nor any brain injury would have occurred.

In the alternative, it was alleged that if a stabilising induction and artificial rupture of membranes was appropriate, proper preparations for delivery by caesarean section would have been made. In that scenario, it was alleged that had prolapse occurred, Connor would have been delivered by caesarean section well before any injury to his brain.

Consequences of negligence

Connor now suffers from involuntary movements affecting his arms and legs and cannot stand and walk. Nor can he use his arms effectively in many circumstances. However, Connor is very bright and he is able to control an electric wheelchair, the keys of a computer keyboard and an environmental control system.

The hospital admitted that the actions of the doctors were negligent. During the course of the legal action, various offers were made that culminated in an offer of £5 million. As Connor preferred a periodical payment scheme, the hospital made an alternative offer in the form of a £1.3m sum, together with periodical payments of £120,000 each year.

Connor has since been able to attend University to study for a degree. 

Have you also suffered negligence during birth?

For further information regarding claims of this type, call us today on 0800 054 6512. Alternatively, you can fill in our enquiry form here.

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