This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who settled a case involving a baby who, through medical malpractice and the poor management of his birth, suffered shoulder dystocia resulting in right Erb’s Palsy.
The mother booked in at All Saints Hospital for antenatal care and delivery with a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. At each visit it was recorded that the abdominal circumference was in excess of the gestational age and at 36 weeks, the foetal weight was estimated at 4200g. A foetus weighing in excess of 4500g at birth is macrosomic, i.e. abnormally large. Macrosomia poses the recognised risk of shoulder dystocia in the foetus, which occurs when the shoulder of the foetus becomes trapped between the mother’s pubic bone or pelvis inlet following delivery of the head.
Despite all the indications that the mother was carrying a macrosomic foetus, no plans were made to prepare for this during delivery.
When the mother went into labour, there was slow progress initially. As there was no foetal descent, a Neville Barnes forceps delivery was commenced. However, the foetal head was in an occipito-anterior position and two cm below the spines. Strong traction was needed to deliver the head. The Senior House Officer in charge of the delivery then encountered shoulder dystocia. The posterior shoulder was rotated and it disimpacted the anterior right shoulder. The foetus was rotated to AP position before being delivered.
Failure to properly manage shoulder dystocia resulted in the baby suffering injury to the nerves of his shoulder, arm and hand. This was caused by excessive traction upon his head in the course of his delivery, which was avoidable with standard obstetric care. There has been incomplete recovery of the function resulting in right Erb’s Palsy, a wasting of the shoulder muscles.
The hospital’s medical professionals breached their duty of care to the claimant and the standard of care fell well below reasonable standards. The claim in medical negligence was successful and the claimant was compensated with an award of £215,000 in damages. With the assistance of the private client team at Thomson Snell & Passmore, a personal injury trust was created in his favour.
Find out more about our experience in birth injury and claims on behalf of children.
Fiona Mills specialises in obstetric cases. If you would like to ask her a question about a potential case involving birth injuries or you have a general query about medical negligence contact her on 01892 701286 in confidence.
We have one of the largest and most experienced specialist medical negligence teams in Southern England including London. Our team of highly experienced lawyers has the depth and range of expertise essential in this sensitive and often complex area of law. Our clinical negligence team is very proud to be ranked Number 1 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners UK.