Cerebral palsy claim after medical mistakes at birth

Couple sitting looking out to sea

A couple from Scotland were unfortunate victims of medical negligence during the birth of their first child.

Mother: “They were really busy when we went in and didn’t have enough time to spend with patients. At the time, the midwife didn’t even seem to want to be there, turning her back to us and writing a lot in a notebook while she was in room with us.  Even now I don’t know what she was writing as her notes didn’t seem very extensive.”

Father: “The midwife couldn’t see my wife was exhausted and kept saying ‘you don’t want intervention, keep pushing’. She thought she knew what she was doing but she should have called the doctor in sooner.

“We had even asked for the doctor but the midwife said he was busy. However, the doctor said he was never called.”

Delays in delivery cause cerebral palsy

As a result of delays to their son’s delivery, he developed cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disorder of body movement and muscle coordination resulting from damage to the developing brain before during or immediately after birth.

“When he was born they knew they should have delivered sooner. He was limp and had dark coloured skin. The senior midwife actually looked quite shocked at the condition he was in.”

Hospital staff admit they should have delivered earlier

The couple raised concerns and senior NHS management admitted they should have intervened earlier and delivered the baby.

“They were pretty honest at that point and put their hands up. They said there was going to be issues with our son but they couldn’t say what they were going to be as everyone is different.”

CTG trace monitoring baby during birth went ‘missing’

Worryingly, the CTG trace monitoring the baby’s heartbeat during labour and delivery had gone missing. Hospital management suspected someone may have panicked and removed it.

“Management also said CTG traces don’t just go missing, someone must have taken it. However, no one ever came forward and the trace was never found.”

Signs of cerebral palsy began to emerge

“The first year we didn’t really notice anything but after that we noticed he was missing big milestones.

“It took him longer to start walking – he was about 22 months old - and when he did, it was slow and he had an unusual gait. His speech was also delayed. At the age of 3 he wasn’t really talking when other 3 year olds were talking quite well by that age.”

The paediatrician confirmed he had mild cerebral palsy. At 3 years old, he had focal seizures, and an MRI confirmed brain damage.

Impact of cerebral palsy on family

“We’re pretty knackered to be honest. Our son is up a lot of the time as his seizures tend to happen at night which can be a bit disruptive and sometimes we have to go to hospital. I still have to get up for work in the morning and my wife will need to stay in hospital with him.

“If we go on a day trip, we have to think about it and plan the day. Our son can get fatigued quite easily so we use his wheelchair as much as we can but in 2-3 hours he can have a meltdown and then we just need to pack up and go home.

“If we go on holiday, we constantly have to think about the time – how long we’re at the pool, we can’t stay out too late as he needs his routine and if he doesn’t get it he could be prone to seizures.

“It can be very disruptive on family life but we’ve learned how to cope and manage it as best we can.”

Cerebral palsy claim for compensation with Digby Brown

The couple contacted Digby Brown and spoke with Sue Grant, Head of Clinical Negligence. Sue is a recognised leader in this complex area of law and she and her team are specialists in cases where children have developed cerebral palsy as a result of negligence during birth.

She knows and works with the very best experts in the UK to secure the result her clients need.

“Although the hospital had held their hands up at the time, as soon as we began to pursue a cerebral palsy claim for negligence and started to ask for information from them, the shutters went up.

“It took 3 years to get information from them and when we received the medical records, there were contradictory retrospective notes in them.”

Professional assessments of cerebral palsy to establish impact on his future

“We didn’t know the full impact of his cerebral palsy and always hoped in the background he would be okay. After meeting with professionals, we now know his cerebral palsy will affect his future and he will need help.

“In regards to working out what he may need and the type of care he needs; we were surprised by how expensive it all was.”

Treatment from NHS during cerebral palsy claim

“It took a long time to go from the point where they admitted wrong doing to saying no, we’re not at fault, to then finally years and years later conceding everything – the week before the court date.

“If they had just been upfront, it would have saved everyone a lot of time and money.”

How would you rate the service from Digby brown?

“From the very beginning, there were really helpful and supportive, keeping us updated throughout the case. They weren’t just there to make money.

“They had professionals assess our child to not only help with the case but to also help us as a family know certain things.

“We both called Sue quite a lot but never once did we feel she didn’t have time to take our call, she was always friendly and helpful.”

How will the cerebral palsy compensation help?

With the help of specialist solicitors in cerebral palsy claims, the family received several million pounds in compensation.

“With the compensation, we have now bought a house all on one level so it is better for our son. He suffers from mobility and cognitive issues, and we’ve been living with my wife’s parents for 4 years as our house wasn’t suitable.

“The second main benefit for us is although the NHS is great, you normally have to wait some time to get treatments and help. With the compensation, we can now access private care straight away which we couldn’t afford before.

“The compensation also gives us options which we simply didn’t have before. We can now look at getting a buddy or carer for our son to help make it easier to go on family outings.

“And also knowing he is cared for the rest of his life. We are both getting older and the compensation means we can get carers to help in the future and when we are not around, we know he will always be taken care of.”