Ben, 25

Ben, now 25, suffered catastrophic brain damage and lifelong disabilities after maternity staff failed to act on signs that he was in distress due a cord prolapse.

He has permanent mobility, speech and fine motor issues and will require specialist care, accommodation and equipment for the rest of his life. After a successful medical negligence case was brought on behalf of Ben by Melissa Gardner, a partner at JMW specialising in catastrophic injuries, and solicitor Rachael Heyes, the hospital trust agreed to pay him £9.8 million in compensation to cover the cost of this.

Monitoring errors

Ben’s mother Cathy had an uneventful pregnancy until she reached her 38th week, when she awoke one morning to find she was experiencing significant vaginal bleeding. Cathy telephoned the maternity unit at the hospital where she was booked for delivery but was wrongly advised that she did not need to come into hospital at that time.

Cathy attended hospital later that afternoon as she was concerned in relation to the bleeding and during an assessment with the midwife, her waters broke and were found to be blood stained. A doctor was informed and Cathy was transferred to the delivery unit where she was having contractions once every ten minutes.

Half an hour later, CTG tracing was commenced to monitor Ben’s heart rate. However the monitoring was discontinued after 30 minutes without being reviewed, despite there being abnormalities with Ben’s heart rate, and Cathy was advised to get up and move around.

Cord prolapse

A couple of hours later, Cathy returned to the midwife unit as she could feel something between her legs. A midwife who attended to her found that the umbilical cord had prolapsed and was protruding from Cathy’s vagina. Obstetric emergency staff were put on standby to attend theatre to deliver Ben. An attempt was made to monitor his heart rate, but this was done incorrectly and instead Cathy’s heart rate was recorded.

An examination of Cathy revealed that she was fully dilated and the baby’s head was visible. Ben’s head was descending rapidly and Cathy was pushing. Again, Cathy’ heartrate was incorrectly recorded instead of Ben’s. Ben was born a few minutes later in a very poor condition and had to be resuscitated. He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit.

The following day Ben suffered several seizures and had to be treated with medication. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

JMW’s investigation

 Ben’s family contacted specialist cerebral palsy solicitors at JMW, who conducted a thorough investigation with the help of leading, independent medical experts. Numerous failures by the maternity unit were identified, including poor monitoring of Ben’s heart rate, especially in light of the severe bleeding Cathy had experienced and her low lying placenta. This meant there was no suspicion that Ben’s oxygen supply was being compromised, which in his case was being caused by compression of his umbilical cord, and later prolapse.  Had Ben been monitored correctly and cord compression identified, he would have been delivered before he suffered permanent brain damage. Urgent delivery could have been achieved with instruments such as forceps or a ventouse cup or by caesarean section.

JMW set out a strong case against the hospital trust, leading to a full admission of negligence and enabling compensation to be negotiated.

Cerebral palsy compensation awarded

 JMW cerebral palsy specialist Melissa Gardner and solicitor Rachael Heyes, fought for a compensation package that would provide for Ben for the rest of his life. He is unlikely to be able to gain employment, requires specialist housing adapted to meet his needs and requires carers to support his day-to-day personal, along with domestic assistance and support to access the community. Melissa was successful in negotiating a settlement totalling £ 9.8million to cover the cost of this and provide Ben with a lifetime of financial security.




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