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£10.6 million agreed for young boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy

Baby boy was delivered an hour after he should have which left him with catastrophic disabilities

Lisa became pregnant with her first baby in 2008 and her expected delivery date was 1st April 2009. Up until February 2009, Lisa’s pregnancy progressed well. However, during an antenatal appointment in February 2009, she was noted to have protein in her urine and raised blood pressure. She was asked to give a 24 hour urine sample over the weekend and to return the following Monday for further review.

On the Monday, Lisa was admitted to the labour ward. Her blood pressure was high but it was felt that she didn’t have pregnancy related hypertension (high blood pressure). Lisa’s baby was considered to be active and she was therefore discharged home a few days later.

Unfortunately, by the time she got home, Lisa started to feel unwell with a tight chest and cold like symptoms. Lisa and her partner, Matthew, felt the baby wasn’t moving as much as before, so they returned to hospital the following day. Lisa complained that she was having pain in her abdomen and a CTG was commenced to monitor the baby’s heart rate.

Lisa remained in hospital with the CTG monitoring her baby. However, by 5.30am the following morning, the doctors were concerned that the CTG was showing her baby was in distress. Lisa was then prepared for theatre ready to undergo a caesarean section but there was a delay and Lisa’s son, Thomas, was not born until 05.53am.

Sadly, Thomas was born in a poor condition; he was not breathing and had no heart rate for 12 minutes. Thomas started fitting shortly after he was born and was later confirmed to have suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a form of brain damage, in the neo-natal period.

Thomas has been left with severe developmental delay and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Lisa and Matthew were concerned about the delays in delivering Thomas and instructed Lesley Herbertson of Potter Rees Dolan to investigate on their behalf. After a careful review and investigation, we were able to demonstrate that the care Lisa had received was below the standard she should have received and that Thomas ought to have been delivered by no later than 04.53am. We successfully argued that if Thomas had been born by this time he would have been born without his brain injury and consequent disabilities.

The hospital where Thomas was born conducted their own investigations and admitted that Thomas should have been born earlier and, if he had been, that he would not have been disabled. We were therefore able to concentrate on the proper valuation of Thomas’ claim to ensure that he will be appropriately cared for and have access to suitable equipment and therapy for the rest of his life. Thomas’ life expectancy has been limited by his injuries.

As a result of Thomas’ disabilities, he is not able to move about on his own and is unable to feed himself or independently perform any of the usual activities of daily living. Thomas therefore requires suitable accommodation where he can have the space he needs for his equipment, his carers and his family all on the same level so he can get about with help in his wheelchair.

Lesley Herbertson put in place specialist reports to identify all of Thomas’ need and has settled Thomas’ claim for an amount equivalent to £10,600,000. This money will enable Thomas to enjoy the best quality of life that he is able and will allow him access to the therapies and care he needs.

Commenting on the case, Lesley said:

This was a really difficult case as we had to prove that had Thomas been born just an hour earlier he would have avoided all disabilities. I was very pleased that the Defendant Hospital admitted early on that mistakes had been made as it removed a lot of the uncertainty that Lisa and Matthew would otherwise have faced. However, it was then important to properly value Thomas’s claim given his level of disability and consequent needs.

I am very pleased for the family that we have been able to agree the level of compensation required without having to put Thomas’s parents through the additional strain of a trial. Lisa and Matthew are hoping to purchase a house which will be suitable for all of Thomas’s care and equipment needs. It is very important that we have been able to put Thomas in a position whereby he will have the care and support he requires for the rest of his life.

Lesley Herbertson is a Partner and clinical negligence solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about clinical negligence issues and, in particular, birth injuries or neonatal death, and wish to speak with Lesley or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.

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