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Dominic was left with permanent disability Erb’s Palsy after his birth was mismanaged by maternity staff. The nerves in Dominic’s arm were damaged when midwives pulled him out when his shoulder got stuck during birth. Using the correct manoeuvre to free Dominic, or carrying out a C-section at an earlier stage, would have avoided this injury but now Dominic will have limited use of his left arm for the rest of his life.
Dominic’s mother Shirley had an uneventful pregnancy until she reached 35 weeks and developed cholestasis, which causes severe itching and is a sign that the liver is not functioning normally. Shirley was advised by the hospital where she was booked for delivery that there was an increased risk of stillbirth and would need to be induced.
Shirley attended for the induction of labour but despite several attempts with a gel pessary over five days her contractions did not start. A C-section was considered but instead a decision was made to artificially rupture her membranes and her contractions started shortly after. Shirley was attached to a CTG trace to monitor Dominic’s heart rate and this continued for the remainder of her pregnancy.
Shirley had been taken to the labour ward at 12pm but the labour progressed slowly. There were two to three midwife shift changes before Dominic’s birth at 11.40pm. When Dominic was finally ready to be delivered the situation turned into an emergency. Shirley had been pushing for an hour and it became become clear that Dominic was stuck due to shoulder dystocia. A decision was then made to use a ventouse suction cup to aid delivery; however maternity staff used excessive force when trying to free Dominic. As a result damage was caused to the brachial plexus nerves in his shoulder and arm as they were stretched during the poorly conducted procedure.
The damage done to Dominic’s brachial plexus nerves lead to a permanent condition called Erb’s Palsy and he currently has very limited use of the affected arm. It is as yet unclear what the long-term outlook will be for Dominic but it is likely most aspects of his life will be affected to some degree by this disability. This could include his education, job prospects and social and sporting opportunities.
Successful medical negligence claim brought
It became apparent when Dominic was a baby that he was unable to use the arm and he was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy. His parents became aware that the condition is often caused by inappropriate force being used to deliver a baby who is stuck and contacted the specialist medical negligence team at JMW for advice. After we took on their case the hospital trust made a full admission of negligence and apologised to Dominic and his parents for the poor care and the impact on his life. Their case is being handled by Nick Young who is now working towards securing a compensation settlement that will provide financial security to Dominic and enable him to cope with his disability.