Girl's life devastated by avoidable cerebral palsy due to poor monitoring - £22 MILLION

‘Sienna’, 9

Sienna has severe physical disabilities due to cerebral palsy that was caused by negligent maternity care when she was a newborn. Her family were put in touch with the specialist cerebral palsy solicitors at JMW and after a successful claim, Sienna was awarded more than £22 million in compensation to enable her to have the best possible quality of life.

Sign of distress

Sienna’s mother, Anna, attended the hospital’s maternity unit after her waters broke in the early hours of the morning. This was Anna’s second baby and she noticed that her waters were brownish in colour.

Anna was seen by midwives on the labour ward at 2.50am who found that she was still losing brown coloured fluid and meconium. Meconium is the contents of the baby’s bowel and when evidence of it is found during birth it is a sign that the baby is in distress. An examination revealed Anna was only 2cm dilated, a doctor was informed and Anna was transferred to a labour room and continuous monitoring of the baby’s heart rate started.

The plan by maternity staff was to wait two or three hours for Anna’s contractions to become regular before starting a Syntocinon drip to increase their frequency. Meconium was still noted to be present but the baby’s heart rate was normal at this time.

Baby collapsed

At 6.10am, three hours after Anna’s admission to the maternity unit a Syntocinon drip was started. About an hour later some abnormalities with the baby’s heart rate were noted. Anna’s contractions were coming very quickly and she was extremely distressed and not coping with the pain.

At 6.55am more abnormalities with the baby’s heart rate were present and they were becoming more frequent. The baby’s heart rate dropped to a worryingly low level on several occasions.

By 8.08am Anna’s contractions were very fast and the midwife turned off the Syntocinon drip in light of this.

At 8.15am fresh meconium was seen and a paediatrician was called so that the baby could be checked when born. At 8.23am Sienna was born covered in thick meconium. She was pale, did not cry and was grunting. She was given oxygen and finally cried when she was stimulated and dried, but she was not interested in a feed as would be expected from a healthy newborn baby.

At 9.05am the paediatrician reviewed Sienna again but, despite her poor condition at birth, they failed to check her oxygen saturation levels or arrange for her immediate admission to the special care baby unit.

About half an hour later a midwife checked on Sienna and found she had collapsed. She was pale, floppy, had a low heart rate and had to be resuscitated. The midwife called for assistance and three paediatricians arrived who continued to try to stabilise Sienna before admitting her to the special care baby unit.

Sienna later displayed abnormal neurological behaviour and investigations revealed she had severe brain damage and cerebral palsy caused by the oxygen supply to her brain being cut off when she collapsed.

If Sienna had been monitored correctly after her birth, and given the correct treatment for a baby who was obviously in need of special care then this would have been avoided and she would have gone on to lead a full and normal life.

Although cognitively Sienna is extremely bright she has been left with severe physical disabilities and requires specialist 24-hour care, an adapted house and intense support to pursue an education and social activities that other children take for granted.

Successful medical negligence case

Sienna’s family were put in touch with the specialist cerebral palsy team at JMW who brought a successful case against the hospital responsible for the failures. Melissa Gardner, a medical negligence partner at JMW, later secured Sienna a compensation package totalling more than £22 million to provide the specialist care, support, housing, technology and equipment. As far as possible, this will enable Sienna to achieve the standard of living and life that she would have had but for the negligence she suffered.

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