Settlement of £1.5m in Wrongful Birth Case
A woman whose baby has been born with severe abnormalities after being told all her scans were normal has secured a large compensation award to help care for her child.
Pearson Solicitors’ Clinical Negligence Team recently secured a gross settlement of £1.15m in a wrongful birth claim against Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Mrs M was pregnant with her first child, she attended all antenatal appointments at Warrington Hospital and assessment revealed no significant abnormality and her overall antenatal risk was low.
She later attended for a planned anomaly ultrasound scan. The sonographer concluded that a repeat ultrasound scan of the foetal head and face was required and Mrs M was booked in with a consultant. The consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, with a specialist interest in high risk obstetrics and foetal medicine, reported that the baby was ‘all complete and fine’.
Our client worked with mentally and physically handicapped children, some of whom had been injured during birth, and she experienced increasing anxiety about the delivery of her baby and the health of the baby that she was carrying.
At birth there was immediate concern about the baby’s condition, he was floppy with poor respiratory effort. Resuscitation produced a good response but the baby’s colour remained poor and he had stridor. The baby was intubated before being transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at Warrington Hospital, then on to St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester.
Tests revealed various issues arising from an underlying genetic cause, including agenesis of the corpus collosum; a rare birth defect in which the structure between the hemispheres of the brain which coordinate signals across the brain has failed to develop normally.
Our client was told her baby would have severe delays in his motor and cognitive development, profound visual impairment, vocal cord palsy necessitating tracheostomy and PEG feeding via his stomach.
The baby would be totally dependent for life, with feeding and breathing difficulties as well as double incontinence, his mother was also told that his life expectancy was significantly impaired.
Pearson Solicitors were instructed by Mrs M to pursue a clinical negligence claim and expert evidence revealed that the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist performing the repeat foetal anomaly scan had failed to competently examine the midline structures of the brain and that, if this had been done, significant foetal brain abnormality would be been detected.
Our client could then have been advised of the significant risks of developmental delay, epilepsy and chromosomal abnormality. She would have been counselled on the option of terminating her pregnancy and, in light of her clear and significant anxiety about the repercussions for her child of being born with a significant abnormality, she would have opted for a termination of the pregnancy.
The Trust conceded liability after which Pearson Solicitors focussed the investigation onto quantifying the claim for damages. This element of the investigation required careful consideration of the baby’s life expectancy and the care, accommodation, physiotherapy, aids and equipment that would be required throughout the baby’s lifetime.
Proceedings were issued in Court, but were stayed to allow settlement negotiations to take place. After securing reports from multiple experts in various disciplines and quantifying the claim a settlement was secured.
Kenneth Lees, specialist clinical negligence solicitor with conduct of this claim, commented “Following the Trust’s admission of liability Mrs M was entitled to damages for the pain and suffering associated with the continuation of her pregnancy and with her childbirth, along with damages for the additional loss and expenses that she had incurred and that she will incur by reason of caring or her severely disabled child for the remainder of the shortened lifespan. The case law and issues in this claim were particularly complex and warranted careful and thorough examination.
“This was a particularly important case where the monetary compensation sought was desperately needed to provide a child with extreme needs with essential accommodation and care. Whilst no sum of money will ever correct the wrong done, having worked with Mrs M and her family to achieve this result I understand the positive impact that it will have and in particular the quality of life for her child going forwards”
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