Hospital admits catalogue of errors caused baby’s brain damage

25/04/2014

A mother has called for lessons to be learned by a London hospital after her baby boy suffered devastating brain damage caused by a catalogue of errors by maternity staff.

The boy is just three but it is already clear that he will be severely disabled due to appalling mistakes that were made during his delivery at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

He cannot walk independently or speak and is likely to be dependent on others for the rest of his life after his brain was starved of oxygen as a result of the failures.

After his case was taken on by law firm JMW, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability for the brain damage.

JMW identified almost 30 separate mistakes by maternity staff, many of them extremely serious.

The failures included:

• Failing to treat the delivery as high risk despite the fact that he was in the breech position, was premature and his mother had to undergo an emergency C-section in a previous pregnancy.

• A breakdown in communication between the midwife caring for the boy's mother and the doctors in charge of her care, which resulted in vital information not being passed on and the failure to appreciate that an emergency C-section was required.

• Failures by the obstetric team to review the heart rate monitor during the ward round.

• Failure by the midwife to act upon serious abnormalities on the fetal heart rate monitor, which showed worrying signs that the baby was in distress.

A JMW solicitor commented: “There was a shocking catalogue of errors made during the delivery and this has had catastrophic consequences for him. Many of the errors are very worrying as there was a clear lack of appreciation of obvious warning signs that he was in danger.

“His mother and father are completely devastated and cannot believe that this has happened to their baby. Nothing can now be done to turn back the clock and they have been left to come to terms with the fact that if an appropriate standard of care had been given and guidelines followed the brain damage would have been avoided. This was not ‘one of those things’, it was completely preventable.

“However I am pleased that although there are many challenges ahead for the whole family a significant part of their legal battle has been won. I will now continue to work with the trust to negotiate a compensation package that will enable him to access the help he needs to cope with his disabilities.”

JMW’s own investigation established that the damage to the child's brain occurred in the last 15 to 20 minutes before he was born. If the worrying signs of fetal distress had been picked up by the staff caring for him would have been delivered over an hour earlier and his brain damage would have been avoided.

A serious untoward incident report done by the hospital following the delivery highlights this failure as one of the main problems that caused the delayed delivery. It also states that there was poor communication between team members and that the labour was not prioritised as it should have been.

The hospital’s investigation was completed when the baby was only four months old, but the findings were never shared with his family and they only found out that an internal investigation had been carried out after instructing JMW to investigate. The hospital’s failure to tell the family about the findings of the internal investigation added significantly to their distress.

Ends

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle on the details below:

Kelly Hindle

D. 0161 828 1868

E. Kelly.hindle@jmw.co.uk

Note to Editors

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.

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