Clinical Negligence

Lack of respiratory support causes cerebral palsy

Our team of specialist clinical negligence lawyers based at Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Tunbridge Wells and Dartford (Thames Gateway) offices, has secured £5.4 million for a child who suffered brain damage and cerebral palsy after a considerable delay in being provided with respiratory support when he suffered breathing difficulties.

This clinical negligence claim involved a baby who was born at Poole Hospital in Dorset, at 28 weeks’ gestation by elective caesarean section, due to maternal pre-eclampsia and severe placental insufficiency.

Despite his prematurity he was born in good condition and was initially intubated. He was later extubated and transferred to the Neonatal Unit whilst breathing oxygen. He was then started on nasal CPAP (continuous pressurised airway pressure) to help him breathe, and was treated with respiratory medications. After three days he was breathing on his own, and he was discharged home at just under two months of age.

Around three weeks after his discharge, the claimant’s mother took him to a walk-in GP clinic as he was grizzly and had only taken half of his feeds. The claimant was diagnosed with apnoeic episodes, where he would stop breathing for a number of seconds following by gasping breathes. The claimant was admitted to hospital that same day.

It was ordered that the claimant should be started on CPAP to maintain his airway pressure, however there was a delay of five hours in starting this treatment. During that period the claimant had continuous apnoeas, with his oxygen saturations down by 50%, causing him to develop seizures. He was treated with anti-convulsant medication.

The claimant was later diagnosed with serious hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury. This left him with cerebral palsy, visual impairment, developmental delay and cognitive impairment.

The team acting on behalf of the claimant, claimed that the claimant’s brain injury occurred as a result of the defendant’s failure to arrange a CPAP for him when requested by the consultant, as well as when the apnoeas became more troublesome, and for failing to perform timely intubation and ventilation after he collapsed with seizures.

After detailed negotiations the team obtained an out-of-court settlement for the claimant of £2.25 million plus periodical payments (every year for the remainder of his life) for his future care. The overall package was worth over £5 million.

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