Birth Injury Claims
Birth injuries can be extremely serious and can have both a physical impact on the baby and a psychological impact on the family. It is therefore imperative that you are able to make a birth injury claim if this has affected your child.
Birth injuries defined
A birth injury is defined as any type of damage caused to the baby before, during or shortly after birth. The damage can vary greatly from minor to severe and from temporary to permanent and may be serious enough to cause the death of the infant. Common injuries include paralysis, fractured bones, brain injury and nerve damage.
Medical complications during labour and delivery can cause a wide variety of problems for a newborn baby.
Common birth injuries
Numerous injuries are caused as a result of medical negligence by doctors or hospitals during delivery. Damage can occur if excessive force is applied during delivery or there is a delay in performing a caesarean section delivery. The most common injuries are:
Birth trauma refers to both the physical and psychological experience of the mother and baby during birth. It is defined as a difficult labour that results in either physical or psychological injury to the mother and/or baby.
There can be lasting psychological effects from birth trauma for either parent if they believed that there was a threat to the health of the mother or baby, or that one or both of their lives were in danger.
Childbirth should be a happy experience for both parents and babies, yet some women can suffer a traumatic birth. The experience can leave them suffering from:
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Difficulty sleeping
- Panic attacks
- Fear of getting pregnant again
- Postnatal depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Read about birth injury claims we've dealt with:
Case study: traumatic birth causes psychological injury - £15,000
Leanne suffered a very traumatic birth of her son Sam due to the negligence of the maternity staff responsible for the delivery. Thankfully, despite being starved of oxygen, Sam did not suffer permanent brain damage. However the experience left Leanne psychologically scarred and she developed an anxiety disorder requiring her to have therapy to be able to cope. Leanne’s case was taken on by the specialist medical negligence solicitors at Hospital Negligence and she was awarded £15,000 in compensation.
Start of ordeal
Leanne had an uncomplicated pregnancy and all her scans were normal. When she was a few days overdue she began having contractions and attended hospital. The baby’s heart rate was monitored with a CTG trace which at times showed some abnormalities or cause for close monitoring of the situation.
That evening Leanne was given an epidural and a couple of hours later her contractions were found to be very strong. Leanne was reassured that everything was progressing normally by both the midwives and a doctor who assessed her.
When the night team took over the birth, Leanne was again told by two doctors that everything was fine. Almost two hours later Leanne was told that she was fully dilated and that she should rest for an hour before beginning to push. Leanne was told that the labour was going well and maternity staff could see the baby’s head coming down.
Leanne pushed for two hours to no avail. She was examined in the early hours of the morning by a doctor who told her the baby could not be delivered by pushing as it was in the wrong position and was a brow presentation, which is when the baby faces the wrong way. Shortly after Leanne was told the baby would need to be delivered with either forceps or a caesarean section. Sam was now in distress as he was not receiving enough oxygen however maternity staff did not tell Leanne this.
Leanne was told that she needed to be moved to theatre quickly so that an attempt at delivery with forceps could be made. However after waiting for 30 minutes for this to happen Leanne was told there was another lady in theatre and there might be a further long wait. Leanne was now feeling very distressed and was worried that baby Sam would be struggling too.
Failure to see signs of distress
The doctors and midwives in the room were showing a lot of concern about the baby’s heart rate on the CTG monitor, which was showing signs of distress. In fact these signs of distress had been present hours earlier but a midwife had failed to recognise this and summon a doctor so that Sam could be delivered more quickly.
A doctor then made the decision to deliver Sam with forceps in the delivery room rather than theatre. This took much longer than it should have done and would have been avoided if the signs of distress had been picked up when they ought to have been.
Sam was born in a very poor condition and Leanne was initially told that he would have cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation. Thankfully after numerous tests it transpired that Sam had luckily avoided brain damage however Leanne was left with deep psychological scars from the traumatic birth.
Leanne’s case was taken on by the specialist solicitors at Hospital Negligence who investigated the circumstances of Sam’s delivery and found several failings. This included failing to notice signs of distress on the CTG which would have ensured Sam was born much earlier by either forceps in theatre or a caesarean section. If this had been done he would not have been at risk of brain damage and his birth would not have been traumatic for him and his mother.
Although nothing could compensate Leanne for these failings fully Hospital Negligence was able to secure her £15,000 for the suffering she had endured and to help her to pay for the therapy she needed to cope with the psychological trauma.
Causes of birth trauma
If something goes wrong during birth, or it did not go as planned, this can be very traumatic for parents. Likewise, if either mother or baby suffers injury, or has to have emergency treatment, this can also lead to birth trauma.
Often, helplessness can cause a woman to feel as though she has experienced a traumatic birth, particularly when a doctor or midwife is administering medication or taking action on her body without fully explaining the implications. In addition, she may also be experiencing the pain of the after effects of an episiotomy or a caesarean, or worry about the impact of treatment (or a lack of treatment) provided to her newborn.
Among the most common causes of birth trauma for parents are complications during childbirth. These include:
- Traumatic delivery
- The baby getting stuck
- The baby showing signs of distress
- An emergency C-section being carried out
- The mother being left alone for significant periods
- Assisted delivery being carried out
- Poor monitoring of the situation
Often women who are suffering from the impact of birth trauma feel as though their doctor or midwife did not consult them during the birth, take their feelings into consideration or fully explain what was happening.
If you felt as though the medical needs of your baby were ignored during birth and you have subsequently suffered lasting psychological effects or developed PTSD, then you should consult a specialist birth trauma solicitor to see if you can make a claim for compensation. Where something avoidable has gone wrong, compensation can be awarded to enable parents to obtain the counselling they need to feel better.
Funding your claim
It can be difficult to know how to manage with birth injuries and most families simply don't have the resources to cover all the expenses and provide for the child victim over his or her lifetime. That's where we come in to help your child receive the compensation they deserve. One of our medical negligence experts will telephone you with no obligation. We have highly experienced solicitors including those on the Law Society’s panel of medical negligence experts, so you can be assured that your case will be handled professionally and sensitively.
Many children who have sustained a brain injury during birth will qualify for legal aid even though the child's parents may have substantial income and assets as only the child’s income if any is taken into account. Few solicitors are authorised by the Legal Aid Agency to apply for legal aid for medical claims. Claims involving brain injuries may be funded by the Legal Aid Agency with no financial contribution being necessary from the parents. We have solicitors who are members of The Law Society panel of medical negligence experts and are entitled to make an immediate application for legal aid.
Talk to us
If your child's condition resulted from medical negligence, we can help you assert your rights and get the compensation your child deserves. If you would like free legal advice without obligation, complete our contact form and an experienced solicitor will telephone to discuss your claim. You can also contact us directly by calling 0800 014 7481.