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Midwives fail to provide feeding advice leading to brain damage - £13 million
Onveer, now 15
Onveer suffered catastrophic brain damage as a newborn after midwives failed to provide the adequate feeding advice and support that his mother required, causing him to become hypoglycaemic. Onveer has cerebral palsy and is severely physically and learning disabled. He will require specialist 24-hour care for the rest of his life, as well as adapted housing and therapy. JMW was successful in obtaining £13 million in compensation for Onveer, to help to cover the cost of this.
Onveer’s mother and father did not speak English as their first language. While his father Ayush could speak and understand a few basic words, his mother Deepa could not. However, Ayush could by no means be relied upon to understand and translate feeding information to his wife.
Onveer was parents’ first baby and his mother attended the routine antenatal appointments, where it would have been obvious to the midwifery team that there was a significant communication barrier and she required a translator.
At one point during the pregnancy a doctor who could speak Deepa’s first language explained important screening information to her. However other than this occasion an interpreter was not provided at any point during her labour or the first few days of Onveer’s life.
Onveer was born by emergency caesarean section due to concerns about his heart rate. His initial condition after birth was good and during his first day of life he appeared to be feeding well.
However Deepa was struggling both physically and mentally. She was bed bound due to the emergency surgery, had developed an abnormally fast heart rate and attached to tubes and monitors. She was reliant on the midwives or Ayush to bring the baby to her for feeding and felt isolated on the ward, especially as she could not understand what the midwives were saying.
Deepa did not understand what the normal feeding pattern of a newborn baby was and was reliant on the midwifery team for her baby’s wellbeing. She was awake for most of the night and the following day and by that evening was absolutely shattered.
Early that evening a midwife demonstrated how to bath Onveer and shortly after he became quiet. He took a short feed of five to ten minutes.
Later than evening Deepa tried to feed Onveer two or three times but he was uninterested and his head away, latching on for only a few seconds. Deepa was not aware this deterioration in Onveer’s feeding pattern was any cause for concern. A short time later Deepa feel asleep and Onveer did not wake her all night for a feed, nor did the midwives bring him to her.
Early the following morning, due to Deepa’s inability to speak and understand English, a midwife who attended wrongly recorded in the notes that he had fed well overnight.
Around three hours later, Onveer was found to be cold and with severely low blood sugars (hypoglycaemia). Five minutes later an interpreter was brought to see Deepa and obtained the correct information that Onveer had not been feed since early the previous night.
Maternity staff attempted to give Onveer a formula feed and it was not until a further three hours later that an intravenous infusion of nutrition was given to him. However by now it was too late to prevent permanent brain damage from being caused
Onveer began fitting and severe brain damage was later confirmed by an MRI scan. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, global development delay and epilepsy. Onveer is also registered blind and will never be able to work for a living or have his own family.
Melissa Gardner, a partner at JMW specialising in cerebral palsy cases, commented:
This was an avoidable case and simple steps could have enabled Onveer to avoid the appalling injuries he suffered. Feeding advice in the newborn period is one of the principle responsibilities of midwives and Deepa needed this advice as much as any other first-time mother. This case highlights the catastrophic consequences that can follow when something as vital as this is overlooked.
Ayush and Deepa were put in touch with JMW and Onveer’s case was taken on by Melissa Gardner, a partner specialising in cerebral palsy and other brain injuries. Melissa conducted a very detailed investigation into the midwifery care provided to Deepa and Onveer utilising leading independent medical experts. The evidence showed that it had been negligent for advice and support not to be given to Deepa by the midwives about the feeding requirements of a newborn.
Melissa built a strong case against the hospital trust, which led to it accepting that it was liable for 80 per cent of Onveer’s injuries. Following this milestone being reached, Melissa then began investigating how much compensation Onveer would require to cope with his severe disabilities for the rest of his life.
Evidence was gathered from experts specialising in housing, therapy and care to determine what Onveer’s very complex needs were. This enabled negotiations to begin with the hospital trust to ensure Onveer is taken care of for the rest of his life, which led to a settlement of £13 Million being awarded.
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JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading lawyer, Eddie Jones.