Midwives and doctors fail to monitor baby leading to severe cerebral palsy - £10 million

Lily, eight

Lily was left seriously physically and mentally disabled after a catalogue of failures by hospital maternity staff. Signs that Lily was in distress were therefore not picked up or misinterpreted and by the time staff realised she was in significant danger it was too late to deliver her in time to prevent permanent catastrophic brain damage. Lily’s case was taken on by JMW’s Olivia Scates who secured £10 million in compensation to cover the cost of her 24-hour care.

Start of ordeal

The majority of Lily’s mother Kirsty’s pregnancy was uneventful and there were no concerns whatsoever about mother and baby. However, when Kirsty was 40 weeks pregnant and Lily was expected to arrive any day she became concerned that the baby was not moving as much as she would normally expect. Kirsty took herself to hospital to get checked out.

The midwife who attended to Kirsty carried out some tests and the baby’s heart rate was monitored with a CTG trace. This initially was reassuring but when it was checked again two hours later showed abnormalities. However, these worrying signs were not picked up by the maternity staff. However, Kirsty was given the option of staying in hospital, where no further investigations would be done overnight, or to return home to rest. Kirsty felt pressured to go home so reluctantly did so.

Further failures

Kirsty remained worried for the health of baby Lily and returned to hospital at 2am as she felt something was not right. However, hospital staff did not repeat the CTG monitoring and did not heed the significant warning signs: continued reduced movements, a previously suspicious CTG and that it was likely that the cause was the baby’s oxygen supply being compromised. As a result, Kirsty was once again sent home and told she could return at 8am.

Kirsty returned to the hospital at 8am as instructed and at 8.10am the CTG monitoring was restarted. However, the midwife overseeing this failed to interpret this and therefore again signs of distress were overlooked. The midwife should have called for a doctor urgently however it was an hour later before this was done.

When the doctor finally reviewed Kirsty at 9.10am, he also failed to recognise the seriousness of the situation and that steps needed to be taken to deliver Lily urgently. Inappropriate advice was given until Lily was finally delivered by emergency C-section at 10.10am. Lily was born in a very poor condition and made no attempt to breathe. She was resuscitated and transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and she was later diagnosed with severe and permanent brain damage.

Successful medical negligence case

Kirsty and he family were put in touch with a partner in JMW’s medical negligence team specialising in cerebral palsy cases. Olivia investigated the care provided to Kirst and baby Lilly and found that appalling errors were made and delivery had been unacceptably delayed, starving Lilly’s brain of oxygen. Lilly was left with significant specialist care needs and Oliva secured £10 million to cover the cost of this for the rest of her life. The compensation also enabled Lily’s family to provide her with a hydrotherapy pool which helps to ease the pain from her muscle spasms caused by the cerebral palsy.

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