Errors at Birth Centre Lead to Severe Cerebral Palsy – £6.4M

Compensation - £6.4 million

Young Theo has severe cerebral palsy which has left him with very little mobility and unable to sit up unaided after his brain was staved of oxygen due to the negligence of a birth centre. He also has significant learning difficulties and will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

Theo’s case was taken on by Eddie Jones, one of our specialist cerebral palsy solicitors, who secured an admission of negligence from the trust responsible for the birth centre and £6.4 million in compensation to enable Theo to cope with his disabilities.

Misleading information

When Theo’s mother Janet fell pregnant in 2001 when she was 38, she and her husband Earnie spent a lot of time researching options for the delivery and eventually decided on a birthing centre.

Deliveries at birth centres are managed entirely by midwives with no doctors present however Theo’s parents were advised that the midwives at birth centres are better trained and more experienced than hospital midwives, making them a safer option. They were also told that in the event that their baby needed to be delivered in hospital this could be arranged potentially more quickly than it could for a woman who was already in hospital.

In April 2002 Janet went into labour and was admitted to the birth centre. She was put under the care of a midwife initially. However this midwife said she had to leave to attend a social engagement and that she would send another experienced midwife to take over. In the meantime Janet was left under the care of a student.

At about 2.30pm Janet was taken to the birthing pool. The baby’s heart rate was monitored with a stethoscope rather than electronically. However a stethoscope carries a high risk of failing to achieve accurate monitoring when the mother is in a birthing pool.

Resuscitation at birth 

Janet’s labour progressed for several hours and at 8.45pm she had a heavy ‘show’ and when she was examined at 9.20pm she was found to be fully dilated.

Theo was born at 9.55pm with the cord wrapped tightly round his neck and in a very poor condition. When his head emerged there had been a thick presence of meconium (a sign of fetal distress). Theo had to be resuscitated and did not take his first breath until 10 minutes after birth.

At 10.03pm the midwives called an ambulance, which had been described to Janet and Earnie as being just five minutes away by a virtually instantly available ambulance. However the ambulance did not arrive for half an hour and reached the hospital approximately one hour after Theo has been born.

Cerebral palsy diagnosis

Theo was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy caused by oxygen deprivation due to the cord being wrapped around his neck, which would have been avoided if Theo had been monitored effectively, if the signs that he was in distress had been picked up on and he had been delivered more quickly. After Eddie Jones challenged this poor care on behalf of Theo the trust responsible for the birth centre admitted the tragic errors and agreed to pay him £6.4 million to cover the cost of the life-long specialist care that he requires.

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