Birth injury news

 

Sports prostheses for children

The Department of Health has announced that £1.5 million has been made available to provide specialised sports prostheses on the NHS for children in England.

Taking his inspiration from Team GB’s outstanding performance at the 2016 Paralympics, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, says that every child should be able to participate in sport. He believes this investment in children’s specialised sports prosthetics will enable the next generation of children suffering from limb loss to lead more active lives.

Of the £1.5 million of funding, half has been allocated to a Child Prosthesis Research Collaboration, intended to support research and bring the latest prosthetic technology into the NHS. The remaining £750,000 will be made available to Limb Centres, which must apply on a patient by patient basis for grants of up to £5,000 per limb, including fitting and associated costs. Applications must come from Limb Centres which have assessed the child’s prosthetic needs and prescribed a suitable prosthetic limb. Patients cannot apply directly or through their doctor. The funding will be available until March 2018.

In order to qualify for NHS funding towards a specialised sports prosthetic, such as a running blade, the Limb Centre’s application must demonstrate that the child meets the government’s eligibility criteria:

  • The child or teenager must be under 18
  • They must have suffered limb loss or have been born without one or more limbs – either upper or lower limb.
  • They must be medically fit to engage in physical activity, as assessed by the Limb Centre
  • The Limb Centre assesses that the child or teenager will benefit from the prosthesis and from engaging in physical activity, whether that is participating in school sport, organised group sport, recreational activity or active play with other children.
  • For more specialised sport prostheses, it must be demonstrated that the child or teenager has an active interest or past history of participation in that sport
  • The prosthetic limb must have been prescribed by the Limb Centre as suitable for the child and, ideally, should have been trialled by the child before an award is made

The Department of Health’s announcement of 7th January 2016 doesn’t say whether the sports prosthesis grants will be made on a one-off basis or be renewable for further limbs as the child grows and their prosthetic needs inevitably change or the proportion of child amputees who will be able to benefit from the total funds of £750,000. But Boyes Turner welcome this initial move by the Department of Health towards improving mobility, health and accessibility for disabled children in the knowledge that individual lives will be improved, alongside the benefits to all that come from greater understanding, inclusion and facilities for those with disabilities.

Boyes Turner’s clinical negligence and personal injury claims lawyers act for clients who have suffered amputations and limb loss. Our clients have lost limbs as a result of negligent medical care, such as delayed treatment of sepsis, meningitis and infections, mismanaged diabetes and its associated conditions, negligent surgery and mismanagement of vascular conditions, and accidents which were caused by someone else’s fault, either at school, on the roads, on holiday or in the workplace.

We understand the importance of early rehabilitation and the restoration of mobility to our clients, and the essential role that expert prosthetic assessment and correctly fitted and suitable prostheses  play in an amputee’s recovery, dignity and quality of life. We are experts in securing the highest levels of compensation and early interim payments to get your rehabilitation started and your life back on track as soon as possible. Watch a video about how we have helped one of our previous clients here.

£90,000 compensation awarded following tragic stillbirth

The lady’s pregnancy was reported to be normal and all the usual scans were undertaken during the pregnancy. At 36 weeks, the midwife considered that the baby was breech and sent the lady for a scan. The scan confirmed breech presentation but showed normal growth.

Two weeks later, the lady had a further scan which showed that the baby was no longer breech but the sonographer previously failed to pick up that the baby had a growth restriction. Despite this, the lady was informed that her baby was developing normally. The following week, the baby was not moving as much as usual but the midwife advised this was normal as she was close to her due date.

At 40+3 weeks of the pregnancy, the lady had not felt any movement for some time and was sent to the hospital for a scan. The baby’s heartbeat could not be found and the baby was stillborn the next day.

The couple brought a medical negligence claim against the hospital trust alleging that the hospital had not recognised that the baby was growth restricted, but if it had been identified and acted on, the baby would have been born alive.

The hospital trust admitted their mistakes which resulted in the stillbirth. The parents’ legal representatives negotiated a settlement of £90,000 which included a claim for loss of earnings, funeral costs, therapy costs and damages for psychiatric injury.

“Here is a further case of a failure to identify and act on an abnormal growth scan, leading to a devastating stillbirth. It is unclear from this case whether the midwife’s actions were criticised but questions may have arisen as to whether the midwife appropriately took on board the mother’s concerns of reduced movement and whether she acted appropriately”.

Stillbirth negligence claim settled for £68,750

A lady who had a relatively straightforward first pregnancy and attended the usual appointments, sadly lost her baby at 38 weeks gestation. 

When she was 36+5 weeks pregnant, she attended an antenatal appointment at which the fundal height was measured as 33cm. Two weeks later it was measured at 36cm and a further two weeks later, 35cm.

At that final appointment, the baby’s heart rate was monitored and was strong. The following afternoon, however, the lady noticed that the movements of her baby had decreased and she attended the birthing centre. Very sadly, no heart rate could be detected and the baby’s death was confirmed by scan.

The parents attended a meeting with the hospital who told them that a growth scan should have been offered at the appointment when the measurements were 33cm, as the baby’s growth was restricted.

It was alleged that if the baby’s growth had been correctly measured and monitored, the lady would have been referred for a growth scan and had closer monitoring.  She would have been induced at an earlier stage which would have taken place before the baby died.

The hospital admitted the mistakes made in this case and the parents were able to settle the claim for £68,750.  The compensation award included claims for loss of earnings, headstone costs, psychiatric therapy and damages for the psychiatric injury for the mother and the father.

Sita Soni, solicitor with the Boyes Turner Medical Negligence Team, comments:

“It is extremely concerning how many cases we hear of where a baby’s growth is incorrectly plotted on a growth chart or not identified at all, but if it had been identified, closer monitoring and additional scans would have taken place, the baby’s death would have been avoided.  It is important there where hospitals admit their mistakes, lessons are learned to avoid the same errors being repeated.”

£80,000 compensation for couple following the tragic stillbirth of their baby

Facts of the case

The lady was informed that her pregnancy was progressing normally until she was around 34 weeks pregnant, when she was informed that her son had parvo virus and this might be harmful to the unborn child, it was reported.  The mother was feeling unwell herself, being hot and sick.  Blood tests were taken to check whether she had the virus herself.  The mother was told that if she had heard nothing further from the hospital within 10 days then she could assume that everything was fine.

When she was 36 weeks pregnant, she had a further appointment with the midwife.  The midwife told her that if anything was wrong then she would have been contacted. The midwife did not contact the hospital herself.

Two weeks later, the lady attended a midwife appointment, and very sadly the midwife was unable to detect a heartbeat. A scan confirmed that the baby had passed away.  It was reported that the baby had fluid on its lungs which could have been caused by anaemia or parvo virus.

The legal claim

The parents brought a claim against the hospital and the midwife alleging that they were negligent in failing to follow up the blood tests or taking fresh blood for testing.  It is unclear whether these failings were admitted.  It was however admitted that if the bloods were checked or more tests had been undertaken and the parvo virus detected earlier, then the unborn baby would have undergone a blood transfusion or would have been delivered alive earlier.

Both parents suffered psychiatric injuries as a result of the stillbirth.  The couple recovered compensation for the pain and suffering they experienced as well as a bereavement award, loss of earnings and funeral costs.

Sita Soni, solicitor with the Boyes Turner Medical Negligence team comments:

“In such devastating stillbirth cases as this, the hospital’s recognition of their mistakes is vital to ensure appropriate action so that errors like this do not happen again.  Here, a simple follow up call or retest would have detected the virus and saved this baby’s life.”

Are home births the answer to our NHS funding crisis?

Draft guidelines have been produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) regarding the care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth.  These guidelines recommend that home births and midwifery-led care should be encouraged for women with a low risk of complications.

“Low risk” has been described as women without any pre-existing medical conditions or risk factors such as, high BMI, high blood pressure or a previous history of caesarean section.

First time mums with a low risk of complications will be advised to give birth at a midwifery –led unit which could be either based at the hospital site or elsewhere.

Low risk mums who have given birth before will be advised to give birth at home where possible.

The guidance is a result of new evidence that suggests that in low risk women, the rate of intervention during labour is much lower and the outcome for a baby who is born at home is comparably the same as a baby born at an obstetric facility.

The guidelines are only in draft form and are open to consultation until 24 June 2015.

Emily Hartland, a solicitor in the Medical Negligence team at Boyes Turner, commented:

“Whilst some organisations are in support of the new guidelines, others such as the Birth Trauma Association have expressed some concerns that there is ‘no robust evidence to justify NICE assuring low risk first time mothers that to give birth in a free standing midwifery unit is as safe as is a hospital…… there is evidence to suggest the contrary.’ Boyes Turner act for many families where urgent care has been delayed with tragic outcomes.  Whilst these draft guidelines refer to low risk mums only, women should think very carefully about the risks of delivering at home or at a midwifery-led unit without immediate access to emergency care should obstetric complications occur. It is crucial that women are able to make informed choices and that any risk factors are carefully assessed throughout their antenatal care.  We are concerned that the failure to recognise complications early, either in the antenatal period or at delivery, could led to an increase in birth injuries both for mum and child and that pressure to cut costs  may be a key factor in the development of these guidelines.” 

Each Baby Counts' - RCOG launch campaign

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists launched a 5 year project to halve number of baby deaths due to complications during labour

In the UK, around 500 full term babies die or are left severely disabled each year because something goes wrong during labour, such as they are starved of oxygen.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has launched a new five year project which aims to halve the number of stillbirths, early neonatal death and brain injuries occurring in the UK as a result of complications during labour by 2020.

From January 2015, the ‘Each Baby Counts’ project, which is part funded by the Department of Health, will being collecting, pooling and analysing data from all UK maternity units to identify avoidable issues to improve future care and prevent these tragic events.

Professor Alan Cameron, RCOG Vice President for clinical quality has stated:

“We will monitor where these incidents occur and why.  Sharing of these sensitive data will provide us all with a unique opportunity to improve the care we provide and save lives”.

Rhiannon Jones, solicitor with the Boyes Turner Medical Negligence team, comments:

“We have significant experience of dealing with cases where the stillbirth, neonatal death or birth of a baby with brain injuries has a devastating effect on women and their families. By collecting information from around the UK, hopefully much can be learned to prevent these tragedies from occurring.”

Undetected hip dysplasia claim - £488,000 compensation awarded

A 9-year-old girl received £488k for alleged failures in diagnosing, treating and managing her congenital dysplasia of the hip following her birth in April 1994.

When the claimant was born at a hospital, the defendant health board did not examine her hips and no abnormality was detected.

At four days old, the baby was transferred to a second hospital of the same health board for a further examination and again, no abnormality was detected.

At 8 ½ weeks a follow-up appointment with a doctor also recorded that her hips were stable and no abnormality was detected.

Over the following months, the claimant’s mother became concerned that her daughter was dragging her foot whilst ‘walking’. After an urgent referral it was confirmed by examination and X-ray that she had a dislocated left hip.

The claimant was then admitted for treatment and specialist procedures but, despite these efforts, the hip had not been fully reduced by December 1995.

Private treatment

A private examination took place in December 1995, followed by a reduction procedure in January 1996.

Action was brought against the Defendant Hospital for a number of alleged failings.  Liability was admitted in relation to adequate treatment and care following diagnosis of an abnormality and that the outcome was worse than would otherwise have been expected.

The case settled out of Court for £488k.  This comprised an award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in the approximate sum of £50,000.  The remainder of the total award included claims for past costs, future care costs, future aids and appliances, future surgery costs, future loss of earnings and future holiday costs.

Julie Marsh, Boyes Turner Medical Negligence lawyer, comments:

“We have seen a number of children’s medical negligence cases where this congenital condition is missed by doctors treating newly born children.  This can sadly result in a long and protracted treatment plan, involving many surgeries, and can also lead to permanent restrictions in mobility, which can have a lifelong impact, as is the case in this example. It is hoped that by drawing attention to the cases where these early checks on newborn children have missed this type of abnormality, hospital staff will undertake more thorough checks in the future, and will be trained to spot these abnormalities at a much earlier stage, avoiding so much pain and suffering in such young children.”

Compensation recovered after tragic stillbirth

Specialist medical negligence solicitor Vanessa Wand has recently secured formal judgment against a hospital in London for a young woman following the death of her baby in-utero at 39 weeks gestation. 

As a result of her baby’s death the woman suffered psychological injury and requires therapy.  The value of the claim is now being negotiated and it is hoped that a settlement will be achieved shortly.

Boyes Turner secure £200,000 compensation for 40 yr old Melanie

Specialist medical negligence solicitor Vanessa Wand secured a settlement of £200,000 for Melanie, following a negligent repair of a third degree perineal tear which was sustained during the delivery of Melanie’s first child.

As a result of the negligence, Melanie suffers from faecal incontinence and significant psychiatric injury. The compensation award will enable her to pay for private biofeedback treatment, and also psychological therapy.

There was no cost to Melanie in bringing the claim, which was funded by No Win No Fee Agreement.

8 yr old awarded £525,000 compensation following erb's palsy injury sustained through birth negligence

On 11 March Helen*’s mother was admitted to the defendant hospital, to be induced.  Her progress was slow, and so syntocinon was given to speed up the labour.  By 4pm Helen’s mother was fully dilated and she started active pushing at 6.15 pm. 

At 7.25 pm the obstetric registrar reviewed the situation and decided to attempt to deliver Helen using ventouse.  The ventouse was first applied at 7.30 pm, but Helen wasn’t delivered until 8.03 pm.  Suprapublic pressure was not applied, and although shoulder dystocia was noted, the McRobert’s manoeuvre was not performed.

Helen was reviewed the day following her delivery, when it was noted that he had a limp right arm.  She was referred for physiotherapy.  She subsequently developed Erb’s Palsy, and was found to have damage to her spinal cord.

Helen underwent two operations at 6 month’s of age, which improved her elbow flexion, hand function and relocated her right shoulder. However, she still has weakness during elbow flexion and was unable to reach her face with her right hand.  As a result she will experience difficulties with most aspects of daily living for the rest of her life.  She is also at risk of depression and anxiety, and would be handicapped on the labour market.

Helen’s parents brought a claim against the hospital, who admitted that the care provided during her delivery was negligent.

A settlement of £525k was negotiated for Helen.

Vanessa Wand, an experienced birth injury negligence claims lawyer at Boyes Turner, commented on the outcome:

“Unfortunately we have experience of dealing with cases very similar to Helen’s, where injury caused during delivery causes Erb’s Palsy and lifelong issues”.

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