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Case study: severe brain damage at birth results in death
Charlie, aged two
Maureen was two weeks overdue with her second baby when she was admitted to hospital for induction of labour. She was beginning to have some contractions by this stage but the decision was taken to go ahead with the induction using prostin pessaries.
The first prostin pessary (1mg) was inserted into the top of the vagina at 8.30pm and the baby’s heart rate was normal at around 135 beats per minute. Contractions soon increased to one every two or three minutes and were regular.
Labour progressed slowly throughout the night. Contractions continued one every two or three minutes but the cervix had dilated only slightly to 2 cms. Because of this, the decision was taken to insert a second stronger (2 mg) prostin pessary.
There is a well-documented risk of uterine hyperstimulation with the use of prostin, particularly where some uterine activity already exists, and this is what happened to Maureen.
Following the second dose of prostin the frequency of the contractions increased to as many as four in five minutes. Because the contractions were occurring so frequently there was no time for the uterus to relax in between thereby compromising the blood/oxygen flow to the baby. By this stage, the baby’s heart rate had begun to increase.
Midwives fail to call for medical review
At 9.30am, Maureen was transferred to the labour ward and despite the fact that over the next couple of hours the baby’s heart rate was recorded as over 160bpm (ideal would be 135/140) the attending midwives did not call for medical review , as was the policy of the hospital.
At 11.25 am the baby’s heart rate suddenly slowed (bradycardia), demonstrating that the baby was in severe distress. The doctor was eventually called at 11.40 am and despite the fact that the cervix was now fully dilated and the baby clearly in distress, the decision was taken to proceed with a normal delivery rather than get the baby out quickly with forceps.
Severe brain damage
Charlie was eventually born at 11.50 am unresponsive and in a very poor condition and it was clear that he had been deprived of oxygen for some time and that he had been severely brain damaged.
It was claimed that had Charlie been born by caesarean section by about 11 am, when there were already clear signs of distress, he would have avoided permanent injury.
Long-term effects and tragic death
Charlie was diagnosed as having very severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and was acutely disabled, requiring constant care day and night throughout his life. He died aged 2 ½ years.
The claim was settled by one of JMW’s expert solicitors for £150,000.
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Shauna was left with severe cerebral palsy and requires 24-hour care for the rest of her life after maternity failures. Our specialist cerebral palsy team secured her compensation totalling £10 million to provide her with financial security.
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