Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claims
Cerebral palsy is a very serious condition that is usually caused during pregnancy, childbirth or very early in life and can have an enormous effect on both the lives of the child and their family. If cerebral palsy is caused by the errors or mismanagement of a medical professional, parents should be able to claim compensation to make up for the suffering caused and to help care for the child throughout their lives.
The medical law experts at Hospital Negligence have decades of experience in handing cerebral palsy claims. For free, confidential advice about whether you can make a claim for compensation, call us on 0800 014 7481 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will get back to you.
Read about Cerebral Palsy Cases We've Handled
Case study: baby suffers brain damage due to failure to monitor blood sugar levels - £5 million
Ben was born completely healthy but due to the failure of midwives to monitor his blood sugar levels when he was a newborn baby he suffered catastrophic brain damage.
Ben has severe cerebral palsy and learning difficulties as well as epilepsy. He will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life and will never be able to live independently. After his parents contacted the team at Hospital Negligence for advice his case was taken on by medical law expert Eddie Jones.
After challenging the poor care that Ben received Eddie secured him £5 million in compensation to cover the cost of the life-long specialist care he requires.
Normal pregnancy and birth
Ben’s mother’s pregnancy was completely normal and he was delivered at 41 weeks perfectly healthy after an uncomplicated delivery. Ben was born in a good condition, albeit with a low birth weight.
Low blood sugar
Ben was taken to the postnatal ward where his blood sugar levels were checked and found to be low. Because of this he was taken to the special care baby unit, where he stayed for the next 24 hours and was given extra feeds.
His blood sugar levels continued to be monitored every four hours and moved into the healthy zone, where at this point they stayed. After checks by a consultant, he was discharged back to the postnatal ward with instructions that he should be breast-fed every three hours and his blood sugar levels monitored at regular intervals. Only if they remained at a safe level was monitoring to be stopped.
Midwives fail to monitor blood sugar levels
In spite of the clear instructions from the consultant, the midwives responsible for Ben’s care on the neonatal ward did not adequately monitor his blood sugar levels or ensure that he was fed at regular intervals. Ben was discharged from hospital the next day and the following day became very unwell. He was suffering from hypoglycaemia and his brain was being damaged because his blood sugars were too low.
Permanent damage and the claim
His parents rushed Ben to hospital and although staff managed to stabilise his blood sugars it was too late to prevent catastrophic brain damage from occurring. While nothing can turn back the clock and make up for the ability to lead a full and normal life the compensation secured for Ben will ensure that he is properly taken care of now and in the future.
Case study: quadriplegic cerebral palsy caused by birth errors - £150,000
Ciaran was left with severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy after mistakes made during his birth starved his brain of oxygen. Tragically Ciaran went on to die from his injuries when he was just two-and-a-half. The medical law experts at Hospital Negligence obtained £150,000 in compensation for Ciaran’s parents.
Ciaran was his mother Melissa’s second child and when she went two weeks past her due date she was booked into hospital for an induction. It was decided that pessaries containing a drug called prostin would be inserted into Melissa’s vagina to bring on labour. By the time Melissa was admitted to hospital she was experiencing some contractions, putting her at risk of her uterus over-stimulating. Overstimulation of the uterus can present a danger to the baby as it can cause oxygen deprivation.
Too much prostin endangers the baby
Melissa was initially given a 1mg dose of prostin at about 8.30pm, causing her contractions to increase to once every two to three minutes. At this point the baby’s heart rate was normal and Ciaran was not showing signs of distress.
Despite the frequency of the contractions Melissa’s labour progressed slowly and over the course of the night she did not dilate past 2cm. By morning maternity staff decided it was a good idea to double the dose of prostin to 2cm, despite the danger this posed to Ciaran. Melissa’s contractions unsurprisingly now came even more quickly; four or five times a minute.
Melissa’s uterus had become hyper-stimulated and there was no time between contractions for the uterus to relax which meant that Ciaran’s blood supply was compromised. Ciaran’s heart rate began to increase, a sign that he was in distress. Despite this the midwives did not call for a doctor to check on Melissa and Ciaran as they ought to have done.
Delay in calling the doctor
Later that morning Ciaran’s heart rate suddenly slowed – a sign that he was in severe distress and steps needed to be taken to deliver him immediately. However a doctor was not called until 15 minutes later. Astonishingly, despite the fact that Melissa was fully dilated and the baby was in severe distress due to oxygen deprivation, the doctor decided to continue with a vaginal delivery rather than intervening to ensure the baby was delivered urgently.
Ciaran’s distress and oxygen deprivation continued for another 10 minutes until he was eventually born. He was in a very poor condition and was later found to be severely brain damaged. He was diagnosed with severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and required 24-hour care until he died at the age of two-and-a-half.
After contacting the medical law experts at Hospital Negligence for advice Ciaran’s parents brought a claim against the hospital responsible for his birth. Investigations revealed that if a C-section had been carried out when the clear signs that Ciaran was in distress were first apparent his brain would not have been so severely damaged and he would have recovered without any permanent injury. His parents were later awarded £150,000 in compensation for their pain, suffering and the costs they incurred providing for Ciaran’s severe disabilities in the short time her was alive.
Case study: delayed delivery of baby leads to cerebral palsy and eventual death - £320,000
Midwives failed to take action when there were worrying signs that Michael was in distress during his birth. Subsequently his brain was starved of oxygen and was catastrophically damaged leading to severe cerebral palsy, learning difficulties and epilepsy.
Michael’s case was taken on by Olivia Scates, one of the experienced medical law experts at Hospital Negligence, who fought for justice on his behalf. Tragically Michel died when he was 13 due to complications relating to his injury but his case was continued in his father John’s name.
A compensation settlement of £320,000 as secured for John and his wife Elaine to cover the cost of the past care, equipment and aids they needed to provide Michael with due to the negligence.
When Michael’s mother Elaine went into labour she attended her local hospital and in the early hours of the following morning she was taken to the delivery suite.
Later that morning, CTG monitoring of the baby’s heart rate was started, which showed irregularities that signalled Michael was potentially at risk of oxygen deprivation. Moreover there was evidence that Elaine’s uterus was becoming hyperstimulated as it was not relaxing between contractions and this posed a danger to the baby. However neither of these two factors were picked up on by midwives.
Risky Syntocinon drip is used
At 9.20am a registrar found Elaine to be just 3cm dilated. The doctor ruptured Elaine’s membranes and ordered that she be attached to a Syntocinon drip – a drug used to speed up the frequency of contractions. Continual monitoring of the baby’s heart rate was established. The frequency of Elaine’s contractions was causing her significant pain and she was given an epidural.
The Syntocinon drip had caused further hyperstimulation of Elaine’s uterus, posing a significant danger to the baby as it can cause oxygen deprivation and subsequent brain damage. It should have been known to the midwives that the use of Syntocinon has this risk yet it was increased further over the next few hours, causing further hyperstimulation of Elaine’s uterus.
Abnormalities and permanent damage
The result was abnormalities with the baby’s heart rate, signifying that he was in distress and his oxygen supply was being compromised. However despite this, midwives failed to call for senior doctors to review the worrying situation and take action to prevent permanent brain injury.
Michael was eventually born at 7.15pm in a poor condition and needed to be resuscitated. He was later found to have catastrophic brain damage, leading to severe mobility problems, learning difficulties and epilepsy.
His parents had concerns about the management of Elaine’s labour and felt that something had gone badly wrong. They contacted the medical law experts at Hospital Negligence and after investigating Michael’s case we found serious errors in relation to the management of the Syntocinon and the failure of midwives to call for senior doctors when there were worrying signs that Michael was in distress. Michael he should have been delivered earlier than he was and proper care would have avoided his brain damage.
Although nothing could make up for Michael’s suffering and eventual death we were able to obtain £320,000 from the hospital trust for his parents to help them cope with the financial strain providing 24-hour care while he was alive had caused
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a condition caused by damage to the brain that occurs during pregnancy, birth or in the early stages of life.
Approximately one in every 400 children in the UK is affected by cerebral palsy, with 1,800 babies diagnosed with the condition every year (NHS Choices).
It frequently causes mobility and speech problems and can be associated with behavioural problems and learning difficulties.
The severity of cerebral palsy can range from mild to catastrophic. One person living with cerebral palsy may only have a minor disability virtually unnoticeable to the outside world, whereas another person may require 24-hour specialist care.
There are several different types of cerebral palsy including spastic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy and dyskinetic cerebral palsy and all have slightly different characteristics and effects.
How is Cerebral Palsy Caused?
A baby’s brain is particularly vulnerable to any damage it suffers either in the womb, during birth or in the early stages of life and this can be what causes cerebral palsy.
Damage occurs when the blood supply to the baby’s brain is reduced or cut off and there are many different reasons why this may happen, including:
- The baby’s mother caught an infection during pregnancy, such as rubella or German measles
- Complications or delays during delivery of the baby
- Mismanagement of infections or neonatal conditions by medical staff
- Premature birth
- Low blood pressure in the mother
- Use of cocaine during pregnancy
When the blood supply to the brain is reduced, or is suddenly cut off, this limits the amount of oxygen it receives and causes brain cells to die or stop developing as normal. This can have serious and life-long consequences as once a child has cerebral palsy it cannot be reversed, although various therapies can help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
The Impact of Cerebral Palsy
Perhaps the most well-known impact of cerebral palsy is the physical one due to the outwardly visible signs.
A child with the physical effects of cerebral palsy will have varying degrees of difficulty controlling their muscles and moving. This may affect just one limb leading to mild disability or all four, causing them to be wheelchair dependant.
Muscles may be permanently contracted, leading to severe stiffness. They may also be subject to involuntary movements.
The child may also have problems co-ordinating their movements and the combination of all these factors is what can cause the serious challenges that many children living with cerebral palsy face.
The child may need many adaptations to their living arrangements and may be unable to live independently as they grow into adulthood, or require much support to enable them to do so.
Impact on Learning, Social and Emotional Skills
Many children living with cerebral palsy are intellectually unaffected and although they may have physical barriers to their learning to overcome, are able to progress with their development.
However, brain damage leading to cerebral palsy can also cause mental impairment ranging from mild to severe, with a knock-on effect on the child’s learning, social and emotional skills.
For some children the mental impairment can lead to challenging behaviour due to their inability to understand situations and communicate their needs.
In the worst cases, the mental impairment can mean the child will never be able to live independently, hold down a job, or manage their own financial affairs.
Time Limits for Making a Cerebral Palsy Claim
The usual time limits do not apply when it comes to children and those with brain injuries. For instance, the time limit for children making a claim is their 21st birthday, but if the individual lacks mental capacity then there is no time limit to be imposed. People who are unsure about time limits and whether a claim can still be made after a period of time should enlist the help of specialist solicitors, such as the team at Hospital Negligence. We have the experience and know-how to investigate and establish whether or not a case can be brought.
Subject to the right financial criteria being met, cerebral palsy cases are eligible for legal aid. Our team at Hospital Negligence is able to apply for legal aid on behalf of families, making the whole process that little bit easier.
Cerebral Palsy and Medical Negligence
Although cerebral palsy is often unavoidable and no one is to blame for the child’s condition, there are some circumstances where it was caused by failures in care.
If something goes wrong during the baby’s delivery and maternity staff fail to realise and take the appropriate action then this can lead to the child’s brain being starved of oxygen and therefore cerebral palsy.
This can also happen if a drug used to speed up labour is used carelessly or if newborns with jaundice or an infection such as meningitis are not treated appropriately.
If a child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence then they are entitled to make a claim for compensation with the help of their parents or carers to cover the cost of the specialist care they may require.
Talk to Us
If you would like to talk to the cerebral palsy solicitors at Hospital Negligence about a potential cerebral palsy claim, call us on 0800 014 7481 or fill out our enquiry form and someone will get back to you. We have specialised in cerebral palsy claims for many years and have secured millions in compensation for families.