Midwife jaundice failures cause severe kernicterus brain damage in baby – significant compensation to be agreed

Xander, 4

A community midwife who visited Xander at home after his birth failed to follow NHS guidelines in the treatment of newborn jaundice. The midwife was aware the Xander was jaundiced but failed to organise a blood test and gave his mother Anita negligent advice to put him in sunlight as treatment. That night Xander suffered devastating kernicterus brain damage and now aged four he is severely disabled. Xander’s parents were put in touch with Eddie Jones, head of medical negligence at JMW and a kernicterus specialist, and Xander is now expected to receive a multi-million compensation settlement to provide a lifetime of care.


Negligent jaundice treatment

Xander was Anita’s first baby and she enjoyed a healthy pregnancy with Xander being born in a good condition, albeit it with a slightly low birth weight. After Xander’s birth Anita struggled with breastfeeding and top-up feeds of expressed breast milk were given to him from a syringe.

Xander and Anita were discharged two days after his birth, and while she continued to exclusively breast feed, she was still finding it a struggle and was providing top-up feeds.

That evening Anita and her husband noticed that Xander was jaundiced and throughout the night he was very unsettled.


Community midwife visit

The following morning Xander and Anita received their first community midwife visit. Xander did take a breastfeed in the presence of the midwife but Anita mentioned that she was struggling with feeding and that he looked jaundiced.

The midwife agreed that Xander was jaundiced but did not take or organise a blood test to check the amount of bilirubin in his blood, the substance that causes yellowing of the skin and eyeballs. The midwife told Anita to put Xander in sunlight to bring the jaundice down, incorrect and outdated advice which would have no impact at all and is against guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Anita followed this incorrect advice, as any mother in the same position would, and nursed Xander in her conservatory for several hours. However over the course of the day Xander became lethargic and reluctant to feed. At 8.30pm a concerned Anita took Xander to hospital where he was found extremely jaundiced and with a very high bilirubin level.

Xander was treated with phototherapy and a blood transfusion but sadly it was too late and bilirubin had crossed the blood brain barrier and caused severe permanent damage.


Successful medical negligence case

The damage to Xander’s brain was very significant and he now has tetraplegic cerebral palsy, has no speech and is deaf. He is completely dependent on his family for all of his needs and will never be able to live independently, work for a living or have his own family. This tragic situation was completely preventable if the community midwife who attended to him had correctly treated his jaundice. The midwife should have organised a blood test which would have led to earlier intervention, enabling Xander to make a complete recovery. Xander and his family will have to live with the consequences of this appalling treatment for the rest of their lives but after being put in touch with Eddie Jones they have won their case against the hospital trust. Eddie built a successful case which led to an admission of negligence and he will now negotiate a significant compensation award to provide the 24-hour care, specialist accommodation, equipment and financial security he requires for the rest of his life.


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