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Mistake by midwife at Kings College Hospital causes brain damage


Jan 2018

£16m compensation awarded after a mistake meant a lack of oxygen at birth caused brain damage 

Oxygen deprivation (asphyxia) is a significant risk for babies during labour and delivery. A lack of oxygen at birth can have long-term effects for the infant and their family. Hypoxia, or reduced oxygen to the brain, can cause long-term disabilities and developmental delays.

Lack of oxygen at birth can be caused by several factors, or a combination of unfortunate circumstances, including:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Inappropriate use of medication
  • Trauma
  • Problems with the placenta or umbilical cord
  • Preeclampsia and eclampsia

Obstetricians and midwives are specially trained to manage labour and delivery. A failure to quickly recognize problems and provide solutions can result in significant damage to the infant’s body and brain.

Where a child has suffered injury due to substandard practice on the part of the clinical team, he or she may be able to obtain compensation.

The case

On 12th January 2018, Mr Justice Foskett of the High Court approved an out of Court settlement amounting to almost £16,000,000 (sixteen million pounds), where a child had been damaged as a result of oxygen deprivation at birth.

Solicitors acting on behalf of the child alleged that the midwifery staff at Kings College Hospital had failed to notice and act upon various signs of concern, and that this had led to the child suffering oxygen deprivation, leaving them with cerebral palsy and ‘very severe disabilities’.

Longden Walker and Renney’s Richard Ebdon is an expert in complex, high value support of children who have suffered birth injuries.
He commented: “Financial support for children who have been caused to suffer brain damage is vitally important for the child and their family.  It is crucial that proper specialist representation is obtained, so that the child and family can get appropriate support, without delay, and of a nature that will ensure that the child is adequately provided for the rest of his or her life.”

The settlement approved by the High Court provided that the child will receive a lump sum of £5.2m, together with index-linked, annual payments starting at £138,750 per year until he turns 18, then increasing to £210,000 per year.

Compensation is integral to provide a suitable quality of life for people affected by a serious injury.

An appropriately structured compensation agreement is integral to provide a suitable quality of life for people affected by a serious birth injury. It may be inadequate for such an injured child to simply receive a lump sum settlement.  The child’s long term needs must be given appropriate consideration and adequately planned for, with the help and guidance of a range of experts.

How we can help in cases of clinical negligence

If you, a friend or relative, has suffered injury whilst being born and suspects that the injury was caused by your having received substandard medical treatment, it is crucial that you receive expert advice from a specialist solicitor. 

Do not hesitate to contact us for a No Obligation, Free Consultation about securing compensation and getting rehabilitation support as quickly as possible.

 Any claim for compensation will need to take into account pain, suffering and loss of amenity together with any past and future financial loss and expense including earnings, rehabilitation and treatment costs, nursing care, disability equipment and the cost of adaptations to meet the injured person’s housing requirements.

Richard Ebdon has over 40 years’ experience of representing people who have suffered injury as a result of negligence.  He is a member of the Law Society's Specialist Panel of Clinical Negligence Solicitors and has been a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since the organisation started in 1990.

You can contact us by email at [email protected] or by telephone on 0191 5666 500. Alternatively, fill in our short enquiry form and one of our specialist solicitors will be in touch.

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