Couple Instruct Medical Negligence Lawyers To Investigate Concerns And Support Son
The parents of a boy who suffered a brain injury at birth have spoken of their commitment to ensuring his life is ‘happy and fulfilled’.
The boy’s mum was 39 weeks into her first pregnancy when she attended Royal Preston Hospital for a planned induced labour.
Shortly afterwards, her son was born in a poor condition, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and he was not breathing. He required resuscitation and was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit where he was placed on a cooling mat for 72 hours. He remained in hospital in the neonatal unit for a number of weeks.
At six days old, the baby underwent brain tests which indicated he had suffered Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE), a type of brain injury that happens when a baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen around the time of birth. He was discharged home 15 days later, with an outpatient care plan in place.
Due to the boy’s severe brain injury he now has complex needs. He has a number of conditions including cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs, dystonia (a movement disorder) global developmental delay, daily seizures and a visual impairment. He also has home oxygen, and his disability is such that he cannot lift his own head and needs 24 hour care.
Due to his high care needs, the boy now has a care package in place where staff can support him in his own home. He has a large team of care professionals and has many hospital appointments and stays due to his life limiting conditions.
The boy’s parents instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate their son’s care under Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and help him access the lifetime specialist care and therapies he’s likely to require.
The couple, who have chosen not to be named, have now joined their legal team in marking World Cerebral Palsy Day on 6 October by speaking out on the daily challenges their son, now nearing two-years-old, could face as a result of his brain injury.
Expert Opinion“This young boy sustained a serious injury at birth which will affect him and his family for the rest of their lives.
His mum and dad have a number of concerns over the care provided following their admission to hospital and prior to their son being born. If during the course of our investigation any care issues are identified, it’s vital that lessons are learned to help improve patient safety.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to support the family to ensure that their son can access the specialist care, therapies and support he’s likely to require to live as independently as possible in the future.”
Sharon Williams - Senior Associate Solicitor
The mum’s pregnancy progressed without concern until an ultrasound scan at 36 weeks showed a reduction in the baby’s growth. A plan was made to induce labour at 39 weeks.
She was admitted to hospital at 3pm on 16 November, 2020, and the induction went ahead, as scheduled. A report sent to the family from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), which they have agreed to share with us, detailed the baby’s heart rate was monitored using a cardiotocograph (CTG) shortly after admission and was categorised as ‘normal.’
The mum’s labour progressed and she was transferred to the delivery suite around six hours after induction. At this time, mum and baby’s observations were reported to be within expected ranges.
The CTG was reviewed at around 10.55pm and, again, categorised as ‘normal.’ The HSIB report states the device was disconnected shortly afterwards as mum was considered to be in the early stages of labour. It wasn’t recommenced until around 12.15am the following morning, however the HSIB report explains that ‘continuous CTG was required from the onset and throughout labour’, particularly due to the pink, and later blood-stained, ‘liquor’ draining from the boy’s mum.
The HSIB further reports that ‘the baby’s wellbeing was not monitored in line with national guidance’ which recommends an assessment at least hourly or more frequently if there are concerns.
By 1.15am, the boy’s mum was thought to be progressing into the second stage of labour and began pushing alongside her contractions.
At 2.30am, mum and baby’s heart rates were checked and found to be different. The HSIB report states both mum and baby should have been assessed at this time, which ‘may have made a difference to the outcome for the baby.’ However, this was not performed, with the report considering these ‘missed opportunities.’
A discussion was held regarding an episiotomy – a surgical incision to assist with delivery of the baby. This was carried out around 18 minutes later, and the baby boy was born at 2.52am.
He was in a poor condition, pale and not breathing. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and he had to be resuscitated.
He took his first breath five minutes after birth however his breathing remained poor. A decision was made to intubate him. This was successfully achieved on the second attempt at around nine-and-a-half minutes of age.
He was transferred to the neonatal unit for therapeutic cooling and ongoing care. His brain function was monitored and he was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
An MRI scan was performed six days later, which the HSIB report stated was also ‘indicative of ischaemia.’
The boy was discharged home 21 days after birth, with a care plan in place from the paediatric team to monitor his development and progress.
His parents are supporting World Cerebral Palsy Day to raise awareness of the impact of the condition the support available.
The boy’s mum said: “When I was in labour, we were reassured everything was fine, but as soon as our baby was delivered, I knew something wasn’t right.
“To see him with the cord around his neck and having to be resuscitated was nothing short of traumatic and haunts us to this day.
“Our son’s coming up to two now and it’s incredibly difficult to watch him develop differently to other children and know that he will continue to face a number of challenges as he gets older. At the same time, he is a lovely little boy and does everything with a smile on his face. We hope that will continue.
“While nothing can change what’s happened, we’re committed to helping our son live a happy and fulfilled life. All we can hope for now is that by sharing our story, others will be aware of the help and support out there.”
World Cerebral Palsy Day is held on 6 October and helps raise awareness of the condition and the support available.