Date Published: 3 February 2011

Cerebral Palsy resulting from avoidable errors at birth

Health News from Oxford, England (UK).
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10 Year Old Boy With Cerebral Palsy Recovers £7,850,000 For Injuries at Birth

It is difficult to imagine the stress that must have been involved in caring for a child with very special needs at the same time as pursuing a legal case to obtain for him financial compensation associated with the start of his problems.

Information about the case of 10-year-old TBE* who has severe cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence during his birth has recently been made available by Darbys solicitors in Oxford and may be of interest - and even inspiration - to other parents in similar circumstances.

TBE's Story (Re. Cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence at birth)

TBE was born on 15 September 2000 at The Royal Berkshire Hospital and is now 10 years old. His mother, SB, had had a caesarean section delivery with her first child in 1998. Her pregnancy with TBE progressed normally and TBE was due on 19 September 2000. It was agreed with her doctor that she would attempt vaginal delivery of TBE but that should the baby's heart rate start to show abnormality, she and the baby should be continually monitored by CTG and the baby would be delivered. On 15 September 2000, SB went in to labour and was admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading (Berks).

From the outset of labour, the CTG recording showed abnormalities indicating a decelerating heart rate without a return to the original baseline. This was not recognised by the midwife and not reviewed by the obstetrician. The CTG monitoring was discontinued for 20 minutes to allow transfer to the delivery suite. When it was recommenced it showed deep early decelerations in the baby's heart rate with increasingly delayed returns to the baseline heart rate, indicating fetal distress. SB was advised to start pushing with no progress. An epidural was attempted to aid a forceps delivery but this was abandoned in favour of a general anaesthetic and an emergency caesarean section the baby's heart rate dropped to a persistently low level. TBE was born in a very poor condition, requiring intubation, and was transferred to the Neonatal Unit where he began to suffer from seizures. He was subsequently diagnosed with dyskinetic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He is severely disabled having lost all useful function of his limbs and he is unable to speak, communicating with facial gestures and through communication aids, and is fed via a gastrostomy. He has delayed cognitive function but is a bright little boy with a brilliant sense of humour.

The evidence showed that, in the context of SB's previous caesarean scar and the abnormalities on the CTG trace that could indicate imminent rupture of the womb, which would be life threatening to both mother and baby, there was a negligent delay in TBE's delivery. This caused him to suffer a deprivation of oxygen and sustain a severe hypoxic ischaemic brain injury within the last hour of labour. This could have been avoided had the hospital staff recognised the abnormalities on the CTG trace in the background of a previous caesarean scar and taken the appropriate action to deliver TBE sooner.

Helen Niebuhr, Medical Negligence specialist at Darbys Solicitors LLP acted for 10-year-old TBE who has severe cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence during his birth. TBE has now succeeded in recovering substantial damages from the Trust to provide for his future care and needs for the rest of his life.

The Trust admitted liability following detailed letters of claim being submitted by TBE's solicitors, Darbys. The Trust made an interim payment of £800,000 in 2009. A settlement award has been agreed: Lump sum payment of £3,660,700 plus annual payments index linked to ASHE 6115 of £140,000 to age 19 and £225,000 from age 19 for life (Capitalised current value of claim is £7,850,000 million).

The award of damages will be overseen by the Court of Protection and will be used to provide TBE with the 24 hour care, equipment, therapies and accommodation he will need for the rest of his life. TBE gets particular pleasure and benefit from hydrotherapy and it is intended that part of his damages will be used to build a hydrotherapy pool at his home, where he can enjoy some freedom of movement and fun that he deserves.

Helen Niebuhr, the family's solicitor at Oxford based medical negligence solicitors, Darbys, commented:

" TBE is a unique and delightful little boy who, despite his incapacitating physical disabilities, is fully aware of his surroundings and the people in his life and wants to be as normal a young boy as possible. He has a sharp sense of humour and is very entertaining. Because of his brain injury, he is completely reliant on others for all of his daily needs. He cannot speak but is now able to communicate using an eye-gaze communication aid, and can mobilise around his home and school in his powered wheelchair giving him some degree of independence. The damages awarded to TBE will be in trust to pay for his care and equipment, and everything else he needs, for the rest of his life, but it will never truly compensate for the devastating injury caused to him at birth or enable him to live the life he should have had. TBE's parents are pleased with the settlement and to know that their child will now be secure and have his needs met for the rest of his life but would very much have preferred their son not to have been injured and to have never needed to make this claim."

This story is extremely touching and one can only wish TBE and his family and carers the very best for the future.

*name abbreviated to protect his and his family's privacy

Source(s): Darbys Solicitors, Oxford

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