Edward is an eight year old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy, affecting all of his limbs, as a result of negligent obstetric treatment during his birth.
Edward’s mother had a healthy pregnancy and went to hospital to have her labour induced as planned. In the early hours of next morning her contractions started and she was given Entonox (gas and air) and Pethidine to help with her pain. The midwife listened to Edward’s heart using a Sonicaid (a device used to hear foetal heart sounds), but did not use a CTG as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and Trust protocols.
An hour and a half later, Edward’s heart rate began to slow but thankfully Edward was born by vaginal delivery with vacuum extraction. However, he was found to have the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.
Irwin Mitchell worked on Edward’s behalf against the hospital’s Trust. Several different experts looked into the medical care given throughout his birth, including a neuro-radiologist, paediatrician, neonatologist, midwife and obstetrician. The specialists confirmed that Edward’s brain injury was caused by a period of profound near total-asphyxia (oxygen deficiency) prior to birth, and lasted for two minutes after birth.
The Defendant denied breaching their duty of care to Edward, arguing that it was a reasonable practice to listen to Edward’s heartbeat using a Sonicaid. They also added that they didn’t need to start a CTG trace earlier because Edward’s mother wasn’t in established labour and even if the CTG had been set up earlier, it would have been normal.
To ensure that Edward’s needs were fully considered, we sought advice from 11 different experts in areas such as paediatric neurology, care, occupational therapy, speech and language, physiotherapy, accommodations and assistive technologies.
Edward will require a significant amount of care with daily life throughout his lifetime. To this point, care had been provided entirely by his mother and other close family members, with no assistance from social services. Whilst Edward can move around the house by crawling or bunny hopping, he can’t walk without a walking frame and uses a wheelchair when he’s outside or at school. He also needs help when it comes to eating and going to the toilet.
We argued that when Edward reaches adulthood, he will require two carers to support him during the day, and one carer at night. This was contested and the Defendant said that he would be able to manage with just one carer together with his mother’s assistance where necessary, therefore decreasing the value of his claim. We also sought funds to pay for his additional care support, including physiotherapy.
Edward, his mother and his two siblings, currently live in a small two bedroom flat. This is far from appropriate for Edward’s needs, particularly because he can’t use his wheelchair at home to move around. To improve this situation, we claimed funds to purchase a larger property with room to provide suitable turning space for a wheelchair, as well as accommodation for carers and a therapy room.
Different aids and equipment can help the quality of Edward’s life. Therefore, we included a claim for funds to purchase an adapted car, motorised wheelchair and a hoist to assist with transfers.
Despite the dispute over liability, we secured a settlement for Edward and his family which will amount to £10.2m over his lifetime. These funds include a lump sum, which can be used to purchase a property and to adapt it to meet his needs. He will also receive annual payments for the rest of his life to fund his care needs. Furthermore, additional annual payments during the years where Edward could have been working will be paid to reflect his loss of earnings.
This settlement will enable Edward to receive the care, support and opportunities needed to reach his full potential throughout his lifetime. It will also assist his mother by allow her to enjoy quality time with Edward and her other children, and to be reassured that no matter what the future holds, Edward will be well cared for.
Anne Kavanagh looked after Edward’s case alongside a number of solicitors from Irwin Mitchell who specialise in cerebral palsy claims, supervised by Amanda Stevens. Anne is a solicitor based in our London office and in relation to the case she said: “Edward’s case was complex both on the legal issues relating to liability and on the assessment of his future needs.
“The settlement achieved, although it was made without any admission of liability, represents a tacit acceptance by the Trust that the care provided to Edward’s mother during her labour was substandard.”
She also added: “Edward and his family can now move on with their lives in the knowledge that his needs will be provided for throughout his life.”
If medical errors during birth caused your child’s cerebral palsy, our expert solicitors could help you claim compensation. Visit out Cerebral Palsy Claims page for more information or call or free on 0808 163 4557.
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