Our Medical Negligence team secured a six figure compensation sum for a young man who was born with Erb’s palsy after a negligent delivery.
In 1996 James was born after a difficult delivery. There were complications when his shoulder became stuck during the birth. This is recognised obstetric emergency for which certain guidelines should have been followed: damage to the shoulder nerves during birth can cause serious injury to the baby and lead to permanent problems.
The midwives should have called at this point for more experienced staff to assist with the emergency – instead, they continued with a negligent delivery, applying too much force as they pulled the baby out. James was left with Erb’s Palsy and permanent scarring.
Erb’s palsy is a condition that affects the nerves in the shoulder, causing stunted growth in the arm and making many everyday tasks difficult. The effect on James’ life became more apparent as he got older: he struggled with dressing himself and with personal care, and found it difficult to enjoy sports that he enjoyed, such as football, as he could not fully participate in all the manoeuvres of the game and throw the ball as well as he wanted. Increasingly he became self-conscious about the appearance of his arm.
His mother had sought legal advice when he was born, but she’d been told she had little chance of making a successful claim. As James grew older and his problems persisted, she approached our Medical Negligence team for a second opinion.
We began an investigation into the medical management of James’ delivery. This was complicated by the fact that a significant number of medical records appeared to be missing or apparently had never been made in the first place.
Despite this, we secured an out of court settlement for £200,000. The Trust maintained that the delivery had been handled appropriately, however they agreed to settle James’ claim.
Now 20, James is studying at university and is determined his injury will not hold him back from whichever career he sets his heart on – which he thinks may even turn out to be law.
Louise Forsyth, a specialist lawyer in our Medical Negligence team, represented the case. She said: "James’ mother has fought long and hard for her son – after she was advised he did not have a case, we’re delighted to have achieved this settlement to compensate him for his injury and the impact this has had – and will continue to have – on his life. Although the Trust declined to admit liability, this settlement also acknowledges that the emergency and life threatening situation which arose during James’ delivery was not managed appropriately.
During our investigation we discovered that the hospital had lost significant parts of James’ medical records, or possibly those records were never made. This hampered our understanding of what happened during delivery and raises concern as to the standard of clinical practice. We hope that through this litigation the Trust will have learnt lessons and improve their practice and in turn improve patient safety."
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