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  • Overview

    This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who recently recovered £2.3 million for a patient who suffered asphyxia during birth, leading to damage including learning difficulties and hearing loss.

    The case of CK v East of England Strategic Health Authority [2009] had been defended for over thirteen years when Thomson Snell & Passmore was asked to take over from another firm of solicitors.

    Mrs K's labour was mismanaged as she was given an excessive dose of buccal pitocin (a uterine stimulant no longer used). Fetal monitoring was also inadequate and the hospital failed to deliver by emergency caesarean section. At the end of the labour the obstetrician negligently used Wrigley's forceps which were inappropriate for a delivery requiring traction.  As a result of negligence Miss K suffered asphyxia causing a very unusual pattern of damage including moderate learning difficulties, hearing loss in both ears with attendant poor speech, orthodondic problems, epileptic type seizures and clumsiness and motor weakness.

    Miss K's parents originally instructed a firm of solicitors in Essex who had no genuine expertise in dealing with medical negligence cases. Liability was denied for many years and eventually court proceedings were issued. Her solicitors then conceded that they were out of depth and the barrister assisting the case recommended Thomson Snell & Passmore to take over the litigation. 

    Despite the severity of her learning difficulties, and the additional handicap of hearing loss, the claimant was able to live semi-independently and engage in sheltered employment.  Nonetheless she required extensive care, speech therapy and specialist audiological referral for the rest of her life and was very vulnerable to exploitation.

    On taking over the case we instructed a new team of experts and were able to reach agreement with the defendant that judgment should be entered for the claimant on favourable terms. We were then able to obtain an interim payment in order to address the claimant's immediate needs including the provision of state of the art hearing aids which very considerably improved her hearing. These hearing aids had not been available on the NHS.

    Following the obtaining of further expert evidence the case settled on terms by which the claimant received damages comprised of a lump sum and periodical payments worth £2.3 million. The damages were intended to provide for the claimant's future care, specialist audiological treatment, extensive speech therapy requirements and the appointment of a deputy to manage the claimant's damages at the court of protection in view of her vulnerability.

    The case had a number of unusual features including the fact that we took over a maximum value case when court proceedings had already been issued, the extremely unusual pattern of the claimant's injuries, the replacement of medico-legal experts very late in the case and the unusual prominence of audiological and speech therapy evidence.

    Graham Bell specialises in birth injury and cerebral palsy cases. If you would like to ask Graham a question about a potential case involving birth injury or cerebral palsy or you have a general query about medical negligence contact Graham Bell on 01892 701358 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.

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    Birth injury claims on behalf of children are among the most complex of medical negligence claims. We are specialist in this area and have vast experience of dealing with compensation claims for birth injuries sustained in hospitals throughout London, Kent, Sussex and the South East.

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