Baby suffers severe brain damage during induction due to appalling errors- £24 million

Francesca, 14

Francesca suffered very severe brain damage during her birth after she was starved of oxygen due to maternity failures. She has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, severe learning disabilities and behavioural problems and epilepsy. Nothing could turn back the clock and give her an independent life, however Sally Leonards, a partner at JMW specialising in cerebral palsy claims was able to secure £24 million in compensation to provide Francesca with the lifelong care she requires.

Start of labour

Francesca was her mother Dawn’s first child and she had enjoyed a healthy pregnancy other than a period of gestational diabetes, which was well managed. Regular scans showed the baby was growing normally and an induction was booked for two days after her due date.

When Dawn’s due date arrived she was admitted to hospital and was found to be 1cm dilated and having irregular contractions. A pessary was inserted into Dawn’s cervix to begin the process of induction and a CTG monitor was attached to Dawn’s stomach to track the baby’s heart rate. Over the next few hours Dawn’s contractions became more regular however some abnormalities were present on the baby’s heart rate monitor. No action was taken in relation to this and Dawn’s labour progressed slowly over the next few hours.

Induction errors

In the early afternoon of the following day, the next stage of the induction was started with a Syntocinon (drug used to speed up labour) drip. The baby’s heart rate monitor was restarted and at this point did not show anything of concern. The dose of Syntocinon was steadily increased over the next two hours until it was paused to allow an epidural to be given to Dawn. The Syntocinon was then restarted and increased again at regular intervals. Early that evening Dawn was found to be 9cm dilated, the labour having progressed well over the last couple of hours. However despite this, the Syntocinon dose was increased further causing abnormalities with the baby’s heart rate as her oxygen supply became depleted due to the frequency of the contractions. The doctors overseeing Francesca’s delivery failed to appreciate to begin with that there were any signs of distress on the monitor.

It took another two hours for doctors to appreciate the seriousness of the situation and attempt to deliver Francesca. A normal vaginal delivery was initially attempted however, when Dawn was unable to deliver Francesca by pushing, she was taken to theatre where an episiotomy (a cut to the outside of the vagina to make more room for the baby) was performed and forceps were used to get Francesca out. She wasn’t breathing and had to be resuscitated. Francesca was taken to the special care baby unit where she showed signs of brain damage due to oxygen deprivation,

Cerebral palsy compensation awarded

Tragically Francesca was later diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. She has significant mobility problems and learning disabilities and will never be able to be able to work for a living, live independently or have her own family. She requires a team of specialist carers 24-hours a day to keep her safe and to provide her and her family with any semblance of a normal life. Francesca’s parents suspected her birth had been mismanaged and were put in touch with the cerebral palsy solicitors at JMW. Francesca’s case was taken on by Sally Leonards, a partner in our clinical negligence team, who was able to secure a lifelong care package worth approximately £24 million for Francesca to enable her to have the best possible care and lifetime financial security.

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