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Severe cerebral palsy caused by maternity failures - £8.8 million
Sam suffers severe cerebral palsy due to errors made by maternity staff during his birth. He will never be able to live independently or hold down a job and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life. After his family were put in touch with the cerebral palsy specialists at JMW Solicitors Sam was awarded £8.8 million in compensation.
Start of labour
Sam’s mother Elaine had a fairly normal pregnancy and aside from two abnormalities detected at her 20 week scan which later corrected themselves, everything progressed well.
When Elaine was 13 days overdue she attended hospital for a check up and it was decided that she would be given some help to get labour started. Elaine had had a ‘show’ that morning so things were clearly starting to happen and maternity staff decided to insert a Prostin pessary to help things along.
That night Elaine tried to get some rest in the hospital but didn’t really sleep. Although she wasn’t in pain she did have some discomfort and was given Co-codamol by hospital staff for this during the night.
Elaine had some breakfast at about 6.30am and monitoring of the baby’s heart rate was started at about 7.30am. Two midwives starting their shift then took over Elaine’s care.
At about 8am one of the midwives broke Elaine’s waters using an instrument and she told Elaine that there was meconium present and it looked like it had been there for some time. Meconium is the bowel contents of babies while they are still in the womb but is not normally expelled until after birth. When meconium is released by the baby during birth it can be a sign that the baby is in distress.
Elaine was by now having contractions and was moved to the labour ward at about 8,15am. At 8.45am Elaine was attached to a Syntocinon drip to speed up the frequency of her contractions and shortly after she was given an epidural to help with the pain.
The Syntocinon drip was adjusted by doctors and midwives numerous times. Meconium was found again at about 10am.
From Elaine’s bed she could see the monitor that was tracing the baby’s heart rate. When it dropped she was told by a midwife to lie on her left side. At about 10.45am the midwives called a female doctor into the room who examined Elaine and checked the Syntocinon drop. Elaine began to feel quite frightened.
The staff continued to change the bed sheets due to the presence of meconium and at 11.40am Elaine’s epidural was topped up. At 1.40pm Elaine was experiencing strong pressure as if she needed to go to the toilet. A doctor appeared and said that he wanted to take blood samples from the baby to check its condition. These were done but the results were not obtained because the blood samples had clotted in the test tubes. After this the Syntocinon drip was increased twice at the request of the doctor.
At 3.45pm Elaine was 9cm dilated and the midwives and doctor told her to push. Sam was born at 4.58pm in a poor condition. He was blue and had to be resuscitated. After quite a few minutes Sam finally cried, however it was not the cry of a healthy newborn and Elaine could sense that something was wrong. Sam spent a week in the special care baby unit and a month after his birth was diagnosed with severe brain damage.
Medical negligence case
Elaine had serious concerns about the care provided to her and Sam during her labour; especially relating to the amount of Syntocinon she was given. After investigating the care provided, JMW found that it had been negligent for the drip to be increased, particularly given the signs that Sam was in distress, and that action should have been taken to deliver him more quickly. JMW gathered independent medical evidence that found that had these errors not been made, Sam’s brain damage would have been avoided.
The hospital made a full admission of negligence and JMW negotiated a compensation settlement of £8.8 million to cover the cost of Sam’s specialist care.
Has your family suffered in a similar way?
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