Midwife errors cause baby to be born with brain damage- £25 million in compensation

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Midwife errors cause baby to be born with brain damage- £25 million in compensation

‘Amelia’ 7

Amelia has severe physical disabilities after appalling errors were made by a midwife during her birth. The impact on Amelia’s life has been huge, and as well as not being able to do many of the things other children take for granted, she will have significant care needs as an adult and will be unable to one day work for a living. Amelia’s parents Katy and Tyrell felt something had gone badly wrong when she was born not breathing and with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times, cutting off her oxygen supply. After Amelia was diagnosed with brain damage and cerebral palsy, they sought help from Eddie Jones, a cerebral palsy specialist solicitor at JMW. Eddie launched an investigation into the hospital trust responsible for the midwife and Amelia was later awarded a total of £25 million in compensation to cover the lifelong specialist care she requires.

Midwife’s negligence

Katy’s pregnancy with Amelia was normal and she and Tyrell were looking forward to welcoming their healthy baby girl. When Amelia’s due date came and went, with no signs that labour was starting, Katy was admitted to the hospital for an induction.

By the late afternoon of the following day Katy was 4cm dilated and was taken to midwife-led birthing unit for the next stage of the birth. The midwife caring for Katy listened to Amelia’s heart rate at regular intervals, but only very fleetingly and not long enough to obtain accurate readings. The midwife recorded the heart rate as being normal, when in fact there were abnormalities, but these were neither recorded in the notes, nor acted on by the midwife.

At the birthing unit Katy’s labour progressed very quickly and just 45 minutes after arriving she was 8-9cm dilated, and 45 minutes after that was fully dilated. At this point, Katy’s waters broke and thick meconium, the baby’s first stool, gushed into the birthing pool. The presence of meconium is a sign that the baby is distressed and NHS guidelines state that when present during a birth, the mother must be transferred to the hospital labour ward for continuous electronic monitoring of the baby’s heart rate. However, the midwife failed to take any action and told Katy and Tyrell that it was nothing to worry about.

Despite Katy being fully dilated, her waters having broken and worrying signs that the baby was in distress, Katy was left to push for two hours. Amelia was finally born after the midwife carried out an episiotomy on Katy, a small cut that makes the vaginal opening bigger. Amelia was in a very poor condition and had to be resuscitated. She was taken to neonatal intensive care where she showed signs of brain damage, which was later confirmed with an MRI scan. Amelia was later diagnosed with tetraplegic cerebral palsy, which means she has poor control of all four of her limbs and is unable to walk. Amelia’s speech is also affected, and her learning was delayed as a result. Amelia will be reliant on others for the rest of her life.

JMW’s investigation

When JMW’s Eddie Jones initially took on Amelia’s case he found it concerning that no problems had been identified with Amelia’s heart rate until immediately before delivery, yet when she was born it was clear she had been deprived of oxygen for some time during labour. Eddie suspected that there had been signs of distress at an earlier stage but that these had not been acted on.

Eddie asked leading independent midwifery and obstetric medical experts to look at what happened in Amelia’s birth and examine the midwife’s records. The experts compiled reports that confirmed Eddie’s suspicions. The experts agreed found that the midwife’s monitoring of Amelia’s heart rate had been inaccurate and that it was negligent not to move Katy to the hospital labour ward for continuous monitoring of Amelia’s heart rate when meconium was present, and when Amelia still had not been born after continuous pushing. The experts confirmed that these appalling errors had prevented Katy and Amelia from receiving appropriate care that would avoided brain damage from occurring.

Compensation awarded

Eddie built a strong case against the hospital trust responsible for the midwife and it agreed that it should pay the compensation Amelia needs to cover the cost of the lifetime of specialist care she requires, the equipment, therapy, and technology she needs and to provide future financial security, which amounted to £25 million in total. Although final settlement of the case took several years so that the amount required could be carefully investigated, Eddie was able to obtain interim compensation payments much sooner than this to cover the cost of an adapted house suitable for Amelia’s disabilities.

Eddie Jones, a cerebral palsy specialist solicitor at JMW who handled Amelia’s case, commented

“Amelia should never have been in the position of needing our help and the midwife’s failures were appalling and avoidable. However, I am pleased to have been able to help her to have a more secure future and achieve the support she and her family requires.”

Eddie Jones, Partner


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.

For more information please contact the team on 0345 872 6666.

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