Clinical Negligence

Hypoxic brain damage after delayed caesarean section

The team of specialist clinical negligence lawyers based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured over £4 million for a child who suffered a hypoxic brain injury after being starved of oxygen during a delay in performing a caesarean section.

The claimant in this medical negligence compensation claim was a child who suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (a condition where the brain does not receive enough oxygen) during her birth.

In the last days before her due date, the claimant’s mother noticed that the claimant was not moving as much as she should. She went to Poole Hospital, arriving at 11:30am and giving birth to the claimant the following day at 01:00am by emergency caesarean section.

The claimant was in a poor condition when she was born and had to be resuscitated.

It was later confirmed that the claimant’s cerebral injury was consistent with chronic partial hypoxia occurring at the time of her birth. At the time of the claim it was considered that the claimant had a life expectancy of only another 58 to 59 years, as a result of her brain injury.

The defendant hospital trust admitted early in the claims process that the emergency c-section should have been carried out six hours earlier. However they denied that this would have changed the claimant’s injury.

The team acting for the claimant, argued that the claimant should have been delivered 12 hours prior (13:00pm) on the day she was admitted, and that the claimant would have been uninjured if delivered at that time.

Issues were made more complicated by the fact that all experts (both for the claimant and the defendant) agreed that a feto-maternal haemorrhage (where the baby’s blood cells are lost into the mother’s own blood circulation) must have already occurred at the time the claimant’s mother was admitted to hospital, as the claimant was clearly already in difficulties at that time.

The central question was whether this was a damaging haemorrhage or whether it was a sentinel (early warning) bleed, after which the claimant’s condition improved.

After obtaining a variety of medico-legal expert reports, the team were able to negotiate an out of court settlement of the clinical negligence claim of £4,325,000 to compensate the claimant for her injury and to provide equipment, care and treatment for the rest of her life.

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